There’s nothing drab about John Daly — not his wardrobe, not his ball-striking and certainly not his interviews.
In preparation for this week’s Hoag Classic in Newport Beach, California, Daly was asked about the prospect of being a role model. As you might expect from the two-time major champion, he didn’t mince words.
“Well, if you look at me as a role model, if you do the opposite of John Daly, you’re going to do really well in life. That’s the only way I can answer that,” he said.
Daly — who has a new album coming out later this week entitled “Whiskey and Water” featuring the likes of longtime friend Willie Nelson — isn’t the same guy who could flail at everything and outhit the longest players. His health is a constant issue, between now-benign bladder cancer and a shoulder that simply hasn’t healed.
In fact, Daly said he has learned to play golf with a shoulder that isn’t just ailing, but permanently separated.
“It’s separated. I just play with it separated, that’s how I get a nice cut out there. I just don’t hit it anywhere anymore.” Daly said. “Sometimes it will pop back into place and I have to pop it back out.”
The shoulder hasn’t slowed him completely, however. Daly and his son, John II, poured in 13 birdies and an eagle en route to shooting 15-under 57 in the two-person scramble format at the PNC Championship in December.
The 36-hole total of 27-under 117 was two strokes better than Tiger and Charlie Woods, breaking the previous tournament scoring record set by Davis Love III/Dru Love in 2018 by one stroke, and earned Team Daly the red-leather Willie Park winner’s belts.
So, he can still play, when all the pieces are in working order. But Daly admits he never knows if that’ll be the case when he wakes up.
“Some days are good, some days are bad,” Daly said. “Some days I feel like Superman, some days I feel like Jimmy Hoffa six feet under.”
Daly can still hit just under 300 yards, but while that once marked one of the longest balls on Tour, it’s now overshadowed by the masses. And while the former University of Arkansas star is pleased to have helped push the driving limits, he also said the game still revolves around those who convert when they get close to the green.
“When I came up you heard of long drivers being in long drive championships. Remax sponsored it and you had guys that could hit it 420, 450, almost to 500 yards. When I came out it was me, Freddie Couples, Davis Love. It wasn’t — like nobody really heard of guys hitting it really long except for us three,” Daly said. “The game of golf was always around the short game and the middle irons. When I came out, hopefully I changed it a little bit. But the bottom line, it still doesn’t matter, the guys are scoring because of the way they’re chipping and putting and all that, but now there’s probably 50 guys that could hit it over 350 yards on the PGA Tour.
“It’s great to see, but they’re still chipping and putting.”