The Skinny on Big John

By Mercer BaggsJanuary 25, 2006, 5:00 pm
Editor's Note: This is the second of a two-part series (Read Part 1) on fan favorite John Daly. Daly's new series The Daly Planet airs Wednesdays at 10:30 p.m. ET on The Golf Channel.
 
Its 8:42 a.m. L.A. time and John Daly smokes his first cigarette. At least its the first one that Ive seen him smoke. Hes sitting at a small, circular table outside of Tribune Studios, waiting for entrance into the offices of ESPN Hollywood.
 
Hes with his wife Sherrie, who is sporting a wedding ring the size of a Chicken McNugget and is wearing a studded belt that reads Mrs. Daly, as well as his 6-year-old son Austin.
 
John Daly
John Daly missed the cut in his first event of '06, the European Tour's Abu Dhabi Champ.
John is there, along with a Golf Channel film crew, to promote his reality show on TGC, The Daly Planet.' Im there to chronicle his media tour in the City of Angels.
 
John, of course, is no angel. John knows this. Everyone else knows this. John knows that everyone else knows this. Because of this, John feels that he has nothing to hide, which is one of the reasons he agreed to do what's thus far been an eight-month tag along.
 
Ive got no skeletons in my closet, he tells me.
 
He goes on to say, Its something thats different and that no golfers done. People can really see what really goes on in the career of a golfer. I dont know if Im the first athlete to do something like this or not, but hopefully it will open the doors for not just golf, but maybe some of the football players, some of the NBA, maybe the major league baseball players.
 
It lets the public realize that, hey, its not the most glamorous lifestyle. Its not as glamorous as people might think it is ' the traveling, not being with your kids. I wouldnt trade it for the world, but its more hectic than people might think it is.
 
Being that this is the first time that Ive had any up-close and personal interaction with Daly off of the golf course, I thought that Id do more observing than talking. I thought about doing a cigarette count for the day or maybe track his cola intake. But I quickly changed my mind.
 
These things we already know about Daly. We know he smokes like tires at a drag race and that 25 percent of his blood is actually Diet Coke. These things we know, so it really serves no purpose harping on them, I thought.
 
We know these things just like we know of all his past transgressions: the drinking and the gambling and the divorces. So, again, why belabor the issue?
 
As Daly is sitting and waiting to do the first of four promotional shows this Tuesday, I get a chance to sit next to him and interview him before he gets saturated with questions over the course of the day and gets locked into R.A.M. ' Repetitive Answer Mode.
 
After a couple of questions of my own, however, the interview turns more into a conversation, a casual chat. It turns into an opportunity to get to know more about John Daly ' more than what we already know.
 
Thats a large part of what this reality show is all about. Sure, there is plenty of drinking and cussing and blue moments ' and that doesnt even come close to including all of the stuff that hit the edit room floor, but there are other things, like his charitable works and him playing with his kids and the constant, beleaguering travel.
 
This Wednesday at 10:30 p.m. ET The Golf Channel will air Episode 2 which features Daly playing in the 2005 British Open at St. Andrews. It marked the 10-year anniversary of Dalys triumph at St. Andrews; something Daly called his greatest golfing achievement.
 
Nothing against (winning) the (1991) PGA, but to hear a guy like Jack Nicklaus say that if youve won at the home of golf, St. Andrews, the British Open, that your career is pretty complete - thats incredible, Daly said in our conversation. And thats coming from a guy that won 20 majors (18 professional and two U.S. Amateurs). If youve won at St. Andrews then youve pretty much had an unbelievable golf career.
 
All things being equal, Daly said that he is just as fond of his PGA victory as he is of his second major championship. The difference lies in the venues ' Crooked Stick vs. St. Andrews ' and is measured in historical significance.
 
I think had it been anywhere else, at any other British Open, it still would have been very special, but not like at St. Andrews, the home of golf, he said.
 
The 2006 season will be Dalys 16th on the PGA Tour. He will begin his campaign this week in La Jolla, Calif., home to the Buick Invitational, which happens to be the site of his most recent tour triumph in 2004.
 
That Buick victory was just the fifth of Dalys tour career and his first since the 95 British. Daly freely admits that he should have won more. And there are several reasons as to why he has not, most of which involve his own doings. You only have to look back to a year ago to find a couple of examples.
 
At the Shell Houston Open, he lost to Vijay Singh in a playoff when he drove his tee shot into the water on the first hole of sudden death. He then lost in another playoff six months later, this time to Tiger Woods at the WGC-American Express Championship, when he missed a 3-foot par putt on the second extra hole.
 
But these are just a pair of missed opportunities ' opportunities that have been few and far between. The biggest reason why Daly has only one tour win over the last decade involves the 'C' word.
 
'Consistency,' he says. Theres no doubt I havent won what I should have. The difference is consistency. I was never very consistent over the first part of my career, but I feel like Ive been much more consistent over the last two years.
 
Over the last two seasons, Daly has recorded 14 top-25 finishes and seven top-10s. Those numbers are equal to his figures in those two departments over the previous four years combined.
 
In 2004, he was 21st on the money list, thanks in large part to his playoff victory at Torrey Pines. And in 05, he was 42nd in earnings, thanks in large part to those two playoff losses. He hasnt had back-to-back years in the top 50 on the money list since his first two seasons of 1991-92.
 
So why now is the 'C' word more of a good word when used in relation to Daly?
 
Just kind of having things more in order off the course, he says. When things are better off the course, then you can play better on it.
 
Things are still far from perfect outside of the ropes for Daly, as you will see on his show. But they are much better than they have been in the past, and you will see that as well.
 
What I noticed, from talking to him and listening to what he said during his talk-show rounds, is that Daly seems to be much more comfortable with who he is. Hes not letting others place labels on him, and he believes that he has a hold of his current lifestyle.
 
And, hes not living in the past.
 
You have to look forward. If you live in the past youre never going to be a positive person, he says. Everybody does things in life that they kind of regret, but think about the positives and move on.
 
As for this year, Daly has one goal in mind: Make the Ryder Cup, he says. In his 15 previous seasons, hes never played on a Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup team, and both of his major victories came in Ryder Cup years. Hes currently outside the top 50 on the points list, meaning hes really going to have to get that consistency thing going to make it on his own merit ' which is something he knows that he will have to do after seeing the lack of consideration he received as a possible captains selection in 04.
 
At first sight, Daly appears that he may actually be in better shape ' that shape being slightly less round ' than he was even a year ago. And its not through exercise. They wouldnt let me bring my beer and my smokes with me to the gym, he jokes. Or maybe that wasnt a joke.
 
Sherrie says that she has him on her diet plan and that hes dropped about 30 pounds. She says that hes lost his spare tire, to which Daly quickly chimes in, Yeah, but Ive got two more around here.
 
Make no mistake; hes still a big man. And a very busy one.
 
Off the course, Daly has plenty of other interests. Hes involved in multiple charity operations, including his own John Daly Charitable Foundation, which provides relief to the poor and underprivileged, especially kids.
 
In addition to The Daly Planet, hes also working on an autobiography, entitled In and Out of the Rough, which he expects to be released some time after this years Masters.
 
'It will be very revealing,' Daly says of the book. 'I might get in some trouble for this one.'
 
And, of course, there are the constant obligations to his sponsors, which keeps him on the road most of the year.
 
But when he does get some down time, he says that he loves to head to his home in Dardanelle, Ark., where he just purchased a golf course, the Lions Den Golf Club.
 
Its fun, you know. Its different, he says. When I do deals with golf courses, its usually Im a consultant. But when you own your own theres a lot of stuff you can do.
 
Im going to do it right, he continues. Ill probably put a couple of million in it, maybe not that much, but its going to be great for the members ' where else can you join a club for a thousand bucks (initiation fee) and $95 a month?
 
As well as giving his members ' which he estimates around 228 at the present ' a quality locale at which to play, the Lions Den also provides Daly with his ideal practice facility.
 
Nothing against my home in Memphis, but I like to go to Arkansas and practice, he says. I dont have to put a pair of slacks on or a golf shirt, I can wear whatever I want ' I can play barefooted if I want to. I take my cart out on my little range, and mainly what I do is hit a lot of wedges and putt a lot.
 
Not hard to imagine Daly in a t-shirt and jeans, with a Marlboro dangling from his mouth and a Miller Lite next to his shoes-less feet, just flopping some wedges with a bunch of his buddies.
 
On April 28th of this year, Daly will turn 40. Hes been a professional at this game for nearly half of his life. The games been very good to him, and in many ways, hes been good for the game.
 
Had things not gone his way, had he never made the field in the 91 PGA as the ninth alternate, and had he just given up when life got the better of him, theres no telling where Daly would be right now. Even he doesnt know.
 
Man, I couldnt tell you, he says with an exasperated laugh. I guess Id like to do something outside.
 
I think youd be a lawn guy, his wife says. Youd own your own lawn business or something.
 
Yeah, maybe, Daly replies. Or maybe a field-goal kicker. I dont know if I would have been good enough to go pro, though.
 
Fortunately, he doesnt have to worry about such a scenario. Hell never have to mow another mans grass or check the waiver wires for a job. He can play golf as long as he wants. And according to him that will be until Im 6 feet under.
 
In 10 years time, well probably even see him on the senior circuit.
 
No cut, he says of the Champions Tour. Yeah, I could do that.
 
If I live to be 50.
 
Email your thoughts to Mercer Baggs
 
Related Links:
  • The Daly Planet - Airtimes
  • The Daly Planet - Show Page
  • Video - Preview The Daly Planet reality series
  • Getty Images

    Copycat: Honda's 17th teeters on edge of good taste

    By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2018, 12:37 am

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – The Honda Classic won’t pack as many fans around its party hole this week as the Phoenix Open does, but there is something more intensely intimate about PGA National’s stadium setup.

    Players feel like the spectators in the bleachers at the tee box at Honda’s 17th hole are right on top of them.

    “If the wind’s wrong at the 17th tee, you can get a vodka cranberry splashed on you,” Graeme McDowell cracked. “They are that close.”

    Plus, the 17th at the Champion Course is a more difficult shot than the one players face at Scottsdale's 16th.

    It’s a 162-yard tee shot at the Phoenix Open with no water in sight.

    It’s a 190-yard tee shot at the Honda Classic, to a small, kidney-shaped green, with water guarding the front and right side of the green and a bunker strategically pinched into the back-center. Plus, it’s a shot that typically must be played through South Florida’s brisk winter winds.

    “I’ve hit 3- and 4-irons in there,” McDowell said. “It’s a proper golf hole.”

    It’s a shot that can decide who wins late on a Sunday, with hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line.

    Factor in the intensely intimate nature of that hole, with fans partaking in libations at the Gosling Bear Trap pavilion behind the 17th tee and the Cobra Puma Village behind the 17th green, and the degree of difficulty there makes it one of the most difficult par 3s on the PGA Tour. It ranked as the 21st most difficult par 3 on the PGA Tour last year with a 3.20 scoring average. Scottsdale's 16th ranked 160th at 2.98.

    That’s a fairly large reason why pros teeing it up at the Honda Classic don’t want to see the Phoenix-like lunacy spill over here the way it threatened to last year.

    That possibility concerns players increasingly agitated by the growing unruliness at tour events outside Phoenix. Rory McIlroy said the craziness that followed his pairing with Tiger Woods in Los Angeles last week left him wanting a “couple Advil.” Justin Thomas, also in that grouping, said it “got a little out of hand.”


    Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos


    So players will be on alert arriving at the Honda Classic’s 17th hole this week.

    A year ago, Billy Horschel complained to PGA Tour officials about the heckling Sergio Garcia and other players received there.

    Horschel told GolfChannel.com last year that he worried the Honda Classic might lose some of its appeal to players if unruly fan behavior grew worse at the party hole, but he said beefed up security helped on the weekend. Horschel is back this year, and so is Garcia, good signs for Honda as it walks the fine line between promoting a good party and a good golf tournament.

    “I embrace any good sporting atmosphere as long as it stays respectful,” Ian Poulter said. “At times, the line has been crossed out here on Tour. People just need to be sensible. I am not cool with being abused.

    “Whenever you mix alcohol with a group of fans all day, then Dutch courage kicks in at some stage.”

    Bottom line, Poulter likes the extra excitement fans can create, not the insults some can hurl.

    “I am all up for loud crowds,” he said. “A bit of jeering and fun is great, but just keep it respectful. It’s a shame it goes over the line sometimes. It needs to be managed.”

    Honda Classic executive director Ken Kennerly oversees that tough job. In 12 years leading the event, he has built the tournament into something special. The attendance has boomed from an estimated 65,000 his first year at the helm to more than 200,000 last year.

    With Tiger Woods committed to play this year, Kennerly is hopeful the tournament sets an attendance record. The arrival of Woods, however, heightens the challenges.

    Woods is going off with the late pairings on Friday, meaning he will arrive at Honda’s party hole late in the day, when the party’s fully percolating.

    Kennerly is expecting 17,000 fans to pack that stadium-like atmosphere on the event’s busiest days.

    Kennerly is also expecting the best from South Florida fans.

    “We have a zero tolerance policy,” Kennerly said. “We have more police officers there, security and more marshals.

    “We don’t want to be nasty and throw people out, but we want them to be respectful to players. We also want it to continue to be a fun place for people to hang out, because we aren’t getting 200,000 people here just to watch golf.”

    Kennerly said unruly fans will be ejected.

    “But we think people will be respectful, and I expect when Tiger and the superstars come through there, they aren’t going to have an issue,” Kennerly said.

    McDowell believes Kennerly has the right balance working, and he expects to see that again this week.

    “They’ve really taken this event up a couple notches the last five or 10 years with the job they’ve done, especially with what they’ve done at the 16th and 17th holes,” McDowell said. “I’ve been here a lot, and I don’t think it’s gotten to the Phoenix level yet.”

    The real test of that may come Friday when Woods makes his way through there at the end of the day.

    Getty Images

    Door officially open for Woods to be playing vice captain

    By Ryan LavnerFebruary 20, 2018, 11:50 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Thirteen months ago, when Jim Furyk was named the 2018 U.S. Ryder Cup captain, one of the biggest questions was what would happen if Furyk were to play his way onto his own team.

    It wasn’t that unrealistic. 

    At the time, Furyk was 46 and coming off a season in which he tied for second at the U.S. Open and shot 58 in a PGA Tour event. If anything, accepting the Ryder Cup captaincy seemed premature.

    And now?

    Now, he’s slowly recovering from shoulder surgery that knocked him out of action for six months. He’s ranked 230th in the world. He’s planning to play an 18-event schedule, on past champion status, mostly to be visible and available to prospective team members.

    A playing captain? Furyk chuckled at the thought.

    “Wow,” he said here at PGA of America headquarters, “that would be crazy-difficult.”

    That’s important to remember when assessing Tiger Woods’ chances of becoming a playing vice captain.

    On Tuesday, Woods was named an assistant for the matches at Le Golf National, signing up for months of group texts and a week in which he'd sport an earpiece, scribble potential pairings on a sheet of paper and fetch anything Team USA needs.

    It’s become an increasingly familiar role for Woods, except this appointment isn’t anything like his vice captaincy at Hazeltine in 2016 or last year’s Presidents Cup.

    Unlike the past few years, when his competitive future was in doubt because of debilitating back pain, there’s at least a chance now that Woods can qualify for the team on his own, or deserve consideration as a captain’s pick. 

    There’s a long way to go, of course. He’s 104th in the points standings. He’s made only two official starts since August 2015. His driving needs a lot of work. He hasn’t threatened serious contention, and he might not for a while. But, again: Come September, it’s possible.

    And so here was Woods’ taped message Tuesday: “My goal is to make the team, but whatever happens over the course of this season, I will continue to do whatever I can to help us keep the cup.”

    That follows what Woods told reporters last week at Riviera, when he expressed a desire to be a playing vice captain.

    “Why can’t I have both?” he said. “I like both.”

    Furyk, eventually, will have five assistants in Paris, and he could have waited to see how Woods fared this year before assigning him an official role.

    He opted against that. Woods is too valuable of an asset.

    “I want him on-board right now,” Furyk said.

    Arnold Palmer was the last to serve as both player and captain for a Ryder Cup – in 1963. Nothing about the Ryder Cup bears any resemblance to those matches, other than there’s still a winner and a loser. There is more responsibility now. More planning. More strategy. More pressure.

    For the past two team competitions, the Americans have split into four-man pods that practiced together under the supervision of one of the assistants. That assistant then relayed any pertinent information to the captain, who made the final decision.

    The assistants are relied upon even more once the matches begin. Furyk will need to be on the first tee for at least the first hour of the matches, welcoming all of the participants and doing interviews for the event’s many TV partners, and he needs an assistant with each of the matches out on the course. They’re the captain’s eyes and ears.

    Furyk would need to weigh whether Woods’ potential impact as a vice captain – by all accounts he’s the best Xs-and-Os specialist – is worth more than the few points he could earn on the course. Could he adequately handle both tasks? Would dividing his attention actually be detrimental to the team?

    “That would be a bridge we cross when we got there,” Furyk said.

    If Woods plays well enough, then it’s hard to imagine him being left off the roster, even with all of the attendant challenges of the dual role.

    “It’s possible,” Furyk said, “but whether that’s the best thing for the team, we’ll see.”

    It’s only February, and this comeback is still new. As Furyk himself knows, a lot can change over the course of a year.

    Getty Images

    Furyk tabs Woods, Stricker as Ryder Cup vice captains

    By Will GrayFebruary 20, 2018, 9:02 pm

    U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk has added Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker to his stable of vice captains to aid in his quest to win on foreign soil for the first time in 25 years.

    Furyk made the announcement Tuesday in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., site of this week's Honda Classic. He had previously named Davis Love III as his first vice captain, with a fourth expected to be named before the biennial matches kick off in France this September.

    The addition of Woods and Stricker means that the team room will have a familiar feel from two years ago, when Love was the U.S. captain and Furyk, Woods, Stricker and Tom Lehman served as assistants.

    This will be the third time as vice captain for Stricker, who last year guided the U.S. to victory as Presidents Cup captain. After compiling a 3-7-1 individual record as a Ryder Cup player from 2008-12, Stricker served as an assistant to Tom Watson at Gleneagles in 2014 before donning an earpiece two years ago on Love's squad at Hazeltine.

    "This is a great honor for me, and I am once again thrilled to be a vice captain,” Stricker said in a statement. “We plan to keep the momentum and the spirit of Hazeltine alive and channel it to our advantage in Paris."

    Woods will make his second appearance as a vice captain, having served in 2016 and also on Stricker's Presidents Cup team last year. Woods played on seven Ryder Cup teams from 1997-2012, and last week at the Genesis Open he told reporters he would be open to a dual role as both an assistant and a playing member this fall.

    "I am thrilled to once again serve as a Ryder Cup vice captain and I thank Jim for his confidence, friendship and support," Woods said in a statement. "My goal is to make the team, but whatever happens over the course of this season, I will continue to do what I can to help us keep the cup."

    The Ryder Cup will be held Sept. 28-30 at Le Golf National in Paris. The U.S. has not won in Europe since 1993 at The Belfry in England.

    Getty Images

    Watch: Guy wins $75K boat, $25K cash with 120-foot putt

    By Grill Room TeamFebruary 20, 2018, 8:15 pm

    Making a 120-foot putt in front of a crowd of screaming people would be an award in and of itself for most golfers out there, but one lucky Minnesota man recently got a little something extra for his effort.

    The Minnesota Golf Show at the Minneapolis Convention Center has held a $100,000 putting contest for 28 years, and on Sunday, Paul Shadle, a 49-year-old pilot from Rosemount, Minnesota, became the first person ever to sink the putt, winning a pontoon boat valued at $75,000 and $25,000 cash in the process.

    But that's not the whole story. Shadle, who describes himself as a "weekend golfer," made separate 100-foot and 50-foot putts to qualify for an attempt at the $100K grand prize – in case you were wondering how it's possible no one had ever made the putt before.

    "Closed my eyes and hoped for the best," Shadle said of the attempt(s).

    Hard to argue with the result.