There are two sides to the John Daly coin: one shiny and one considerably more tarnished. What cannot be disputed, however, is the man from Carmichael, California’s raw talent. None other than Tiger Woods attested to this fact.
John Daly fired a three-under 69 to nab the Champions Tour’s Insperity Invitational this year. The win was his first professional W since the 2004 Buick Invitational.
While Daly’s victory was widely celebrated by his peers (as the image below reflects), he remains a complicated figure. On the one hand we have the barnstorming country boy of myth who rose from obscurity to capture the 1991 PGA Championship as the ninth alternate. On the other hand, the man who was charged with assault in 1992 for throwing his wife into a wall, who has done multiple stints in rehab, and who has gambled away tens of millions of dollars.
— PGA TOUR Champions (@ChampionsTour) May 8, 2017
Certainly, the complexity of Daly’s character is richer than the colors of his Loudmouth pants. One of the most generous individuals on Tour, the size of the Wild Thing’s heart is doubtless as big as his booming drives.
Also undoubtable, Daly’s talent. This Daly-Tiger Woods story is an attest to just that:
“It was during the 2004 Target World Challenge and Daly had just completed the Wednesday pro-am with some friends and was in the clubhouse drinking and telling stories when Tiger Woods walked into the room.
“Tiger’s there in his workout clothes and I said, ‘Tiger come have a beer with us, man,'” Daly recalls. “I go, ‘Man, you don’t need to work out. You need to drink a little bit with us.'”
“He said, ‘If I had your talent I’d be doing the same thing you’re doing,'” Daly says. “I’m looking at him thinking ‘you’re crazy, man.'”
Wow. Was Woods placating Daly, or could he really believe Daly has more natural ability that the greatest prodigy the game of golf has ever seen? It’s tough to separate Woods’ raw ability from his legendary work ethic in the practice sphere.
Obviously, his innate ability was incredible, but if you total up Woods practice time and achievements and Daly’s practice time and achievements (including two major victories), it’s possible Daly did more with his talent (given his legendary aversion to practice) than Woods.
A bold claim, yes, but all you had to do was watch Daly in his prime: He hit it the distance of a long driver but had a delicate touch around the greens. Just watching his hand action still shows you how naturally gifted his is. Are there any parallels on Tour today outside of Bubba Watson?
Talent aside, Daly remains arguably as popular as ever. Shane Bacon offered his thoughts on the continuation of the John Daly phenomenon in light of his win.
“He’s the anti-modern golfer in every possible way and that fits perfectly on the PGA Tour Champions. In a stretch of golf where the PGA Tour, the European tour and the LPGA tried out different formats, a man in American flag pants with a cigarette dangling took down his first trophy on the 50-plus tour. It seems to fit all too perfectly. There are few names in golf that force the general public to do a double-take when scrolling the Internet like “John Daly” does.”