Obviously, this is a subjective question, tinged with everyone's own biases and feelings, but with Fred Couples' recent inclusion to the World Golf Hall of Fame, the Grill Room began debating which player has been the most popular with fans (Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson not included):
John Daly without a doubt. With apologies to Freddie, who in my opinion – along with Ernie Els – has the sweetest, most enjoyable swing to watch, Daly clearly moves the needle more. Yes, many golf fans despise both the on-course and off-course antics of Daly, but the vast majority follow him passionately. He is truly their 'Everyman.' It seems as even though many fans really, really like Freddie ... but they LOVE Daly. – The Golf Guy
As smooth as Freddie Couples is – with both his takeaway and his delivery – it seems he can’t compete with Long John Daly in a contest of popularity. Daly is a character who you love to hate or hate to love. His ups and downs, victories and defeats, moments of brilliance and periods of breakdown over the years makes him captivating, lovable and my vote for big man on campus. – Bailey Mosier
Daly. I wish this were a closer contest because Fred Couples is a pretty cool cat and I’m happy he’s in the Hall of Fame. (Whether he deserves to be there or not is another discussion entirely.) But for a time, John Daly captivated the golf world the way no one else ever has. He’s the guy you would happily accept an invite to go out drinking with, even though you’d secretly be scared for your life the whole time. The professional golfer you would be most likely to beat, but only because he might throw his clubs in the lake halfway through the round. The interview you would love to score, even though he might do the whole thing shirtless. Not to suggest that Couples is untouchable, but fans – including myself – tend to gravitate toward athletes that they can relate to. And Long John is about as relatable as they come. – Jason Crook
The comparison is apples and Marlboros.
Daly's fans are more passionate, but so are his detractors. There's no middle ground.
Have you ever met anyone who hates Fred Couples? I haven't. Some might be jealous of him for his combination of looks, talent and general cool, but that's as far as it goes.
Someone once wrote that with Freddie, men want to be like him and women want to be with him. Try to imagine applying the first part of that sentence to John Daly. – Al Tays
Speaking of the here and now, walking around East Lake on Wednesday, I can tell you two guys who were wildly popular: Adam Scott is the cat’s meow according to the 25-and-older female crowd. No doubt about it. The women needed bibs to soak up the drool. Rickie Fowler has the attention of anyone under the age of 25, both male and female. The kids don’t remember Couples. And their knowledge of John Daly, according to our bartender on the course, is an Arnold Palmer with vodka. – Dave Miles, Golf fan