By a stroke of luck – and a large swing – John Daly defied the odds when he won the 1991 PGA Championship as a rookie.
Daly wasn’t even supposed to play in the PGA Championship that season. He wasn’t even the first alternate…he was the ninth alternate. That all wouldn’t matter when Nick Price dropped out of the tournament because his wife was about to give birth and all eight of the alternates couldn’t make it, except for Daly.
On very short notice, Daly arrived at Crooked Stick Golf Club on Thursday morning and went into the tournament without a practice round and with Price’s caddie Jeff (Squeaky) Medlin. Squeaky actually went on to win a major (with Daly) before he could with Price. The golfer-caddie duo won the 1992 and 1994 PGA Championship and the 1994 Open Championship.
Without seeing the course Daly shot a three-under 69 in the first round. You have to remember that Daly was virtually a nobody at this point in time. Just a country boy with a big swing and blue-collar mentality. A modern Happy Gilmore if you must.
He followed that with a six-under round on Friday and another three-under round on Saturday. Leaving Daly the luxury of cruising into a three-stroke win over Bruce Lietzke, shooting a final round 71.
What made Daly such a spectacle was his ability to drive the ball with such power and distance. Just like we are all in awe when Dustin Johnson pounds 400-plus yard drives down the center of the fairway. Improved equipment and stronger athletes have increased the distance of the game. However, before the game developed to where it is now, John Daly was considered a monster and well ahead of the field.
Much like Happy Gilmore, Daly had the ability to score easily when he could put the ball on a par-four’s putting surface in one shot. He has done that numerous times in his career.
This week Daly is far from the favorite to win the tournament. He is given 750-1 odds of winning per Vegas Insider. It would be something else to have him come back and win the tournament that put him on the map (that and his vibrant pants).