Is there anything that gets the sportszip more fired up than a -3 opening round from big John Daly in the PGA Championship. I don’t think so. Let me start by making the point that if one of the threesome of Tiger, Mickelson, and Daly was in contention for the championship on Sunday, which would draw the most attention and biggest audience. I believe that the answer is simple: John Daly. This guy can draw a crowd like no other. I honestly don’t know one person that routes against Daly. Everybody can relate to him, and enjoy to watch him bring his driver way beyond parralel and swing with reckless abandon. He’s the guy that goes to the casino and gambles constantly. He drinks diet pepsi and smokes cigarettes while earning his living. He’s the sideshow guy with his RV and memoribilia selling right out of the parking lot. He’s never the one to lay up, even when he is looking at coming into the clubhouse with a round of -3. He takes out driver, which is totally uncalled for and drives it over the water instead of laying up short and playing it safe like the rest of the field. These are the things that attract people to big John.
Then there’s the fact that he has an unbelievable God-given talent. What an incredible player. With the talent that he has he should have 3x the major championships that he has (2), but maybe if he did we wouldn’t root for him as much. Also he is never one to bad mouth any other players. He never makes comments to draw attention to himself. Instead he is very humble when speaking about his game, and making hilarious remarks to reporters. All I’m saying is could there really be a more likable human being than John Daly. This guy has it all, including the golf game.
I can remember a few years back when he was playing real well and was top 50 in the world, and it looked like he was making a big comeback. There was a tournament in San Francisco that he and Tiger went toe-toe in. I don’t recall the name, but I do know that the two eventually went head to head in a playoff. They stood on the 18th tee, and Tiger lead off by hammering a drive way out into the fairway. I distictly remember the announcer saying WOW increadible clutch drive by woods. It will be nearly impossible for John to match that. then John stepped up to the tee. His shirt was probably untucked somewhere in the back by this time, and he was proudly sporting his hooters logos all over. He had his driver in hand and took maybe one lazy practice swing. Then came his little wiggle with the clubhead as he stood over the ball. Then he unloaded one of his monster drives that all of us dream of hitting just once. The camera quickly shifted to the fairway where we would soon see John’s ball fly past Tiger’s long drive in the air. The whole clubhouse at my local golf club erupted as we watched. If there is anyone of this planet that isn’t afraid of Tiger it has to be Daly. Everyone thought Daly was going to take Tiger out in the playoff, and be well on his way back towards the top. Sadly that wasn’t the case. Daly ended up missing a short put later in the playoff and Tiger won. The part of this story that is important is that Daly is capable of coming up with those moments that you don’t forget. That is what captivates golf fans across the nation. Sure you can respect a guy who grinds it out for 18 holes and does well, but what we live for and why we play and watch golf is for those moments. Those shots when time slows down and you can really enjoy it and be a part of it. The moments that make chills run through your body. Like Tiger at the PGA in 2000 when he pointed that putt in vs. Bob May on the 16th in the playoff, or even Big John in the 1991 PGA as he walked up the 18th waiving his hand around in the air with a smile from ear to ear, and the crowd roaring for him. That is what golf is all about. That’s why we watch on Sunday, for that next great moment. We can only hope that Big John has another great moment left in him for us this week. Just like back in 91′ when he didn’t play a practice round and was the 9th alternate, he took this week off from playing at Southern Hills and it looks like it might just work again. We can only hope it does, we are all pulling for you John. Go get em’.