TKI a Daly Reminder

Hanover — The Tommy Keane Invitational committee members would have been well within their rights to have said no.

Jeremiah Daly will be forever thankful they didn’t.

Jeremiah was 17 in the summer of 1998, just shy of the 18-year-old cutoff to play in the venerable Hanover Country Club tournament. His father, Jerry, twice a Dartmouth captain and the college’s only four-time All-America golfer, had been so looking forward to teaming up with him that he petitioned the Keane committee in hopes of getting an exception for his oldest child, who would turn 18 that December.

Out of respect for the senior Daly, who won the inaugural Keane in 1975, repeated a year later and claimed the title for the third time in 1982, the committee elected to let father and son share a weekend on the links together.

Although the Daly team would fall in 20 holes in the Keane quarterfinals, their Tommy Keane pairing was one they would never forget, because they would never have the chance to repeat it.

Jerry Daly was diagnosed with brain cancer the next year. He passed away after a battle with the disease on Feb. 9, 2002, at age 48.

“The rule was 18, but we sent them a letter asking if they would let us in and they let us in,” Jeremiah recalled this week. “I am really glad that they let me play with my dad, because that was the only time. If they had said, ‘No thanks, wait until next year,’ there would have been no next year for us.”

Team Daly proved to be a formidable duo, with Jeremiah getting Dartmouth golf coach Bill Johnson’s attention by breaking 70 for the first time by shooting a 66 in the qualifying round, Jerry posting a 65 and the father-son team shooting 60 to take medalist honors in record fashion.

Jeremiah would follow in his father’s footsteps as a Dartmouth golf captain before graduating in 2004. Several years later, the Tommy Keane committee elected to honor his late father by establishing the Daly Medalist Award.

“That means a lot to me,” said Daly, who fondly recalls Johnson cutting down a 7-iron for him to swing on early trips to Hanover to watch his dad play in the Keane, and then caddying for his father in the tournament when he grew older.

“I want to win this some year really, really badly,” he said. “I’ve wanted to win it since I was a little kid. It would be extra special to follow in my dad’s footsteps again.”

But that’s just one of the reasons why Daly goes out of his way to return to Hanover, including one year when he was working in London and jetted back just to play in the Keane. The nature of the event, which combines good golf with great camaraderie, has a special hold on him.

“I made a lot of lifelong friends from the Upper Valley area through the tournament,” the Massachusetts resident said. “There are people I would play golf with on the weekends when I was studying at Dartmouth that I probably wouldn’t have known or met otherwise. Guys like Scott Peters, Jimmy Jankowski, John Donnelly and his dad, as well as Art Bemis. This is the one time of year I get to see people like that and rekindle our friendship.

“Not many tournaments have had the longevity that this one has. Not many tournaments mean as much to people as this one does.”

And rest assured, because the Tommy Keane committee once bent a rule, not many tournaments will ever mean as much to Jeremiah Daly as the one he played in on the final weekend of July back when he was 17.

Obar, Toland Lead Qualifying: In what should have been a surprise to no one, the 2013 TKI qualifying round saved its best for last.

Brothers Scott and Mike Peters shot a 4-under 67 in the first tee time of the day, and no one was able to beat them until former Hartford High School standouts Jake Obar and Joe Toland carded a 65 in the final grouping of the day to claim the 2013 TKI Daly Medalist Award.

Nor should it have been a surprise that former champions Shane and Nick MacDonald matched the Peters with a 67 playing with Obar and Toland.

Also coming in at 67, in the penultimate tee time of the day, was the tandem of Hartford golf coach Mike Hathorn and Mitch Cable, his cousin and former former player.

The shot of the day came on the 145-yard, par-3 14th hole when Paolo Bentivoglio recorded his third career hole-in-one at Hanover. Ironically, all three have come on different holes.

Bentivoglio’s shot came seconds after Matt Wood’s tee shot hit the pin. Teammate Torrey Viger followed by hitting a shot that, from the tee, had the group thinking it might have gone in the hole.

Action continues today with morning and afternoon matches. The championship will be decided Sunday afternoon when the survivors of the day’s earlier semifinals square off.