BOCA RATON, Fla. — Sometime Saturday morning, before John Daly arrives at The Old Course at Broken Sound, the enigmatic and eccentric golfer will stand in front one his closets in his RV and decide which one of the 300 or so pants he travels with to wear.
First, Daly said, he will pull out a shirt and then choose a matching pair of slacks.
“What’s great about this stuff is you can dress in the dark because you’re pretty much going to match any shirt,” he said Friday after shooting an 8-under 64 to share the first-round lead with Jim Furyk at the TimberTech Championship.
Daly, who holds a lead for just the second time during a tournament since joining the PGA Tour Champions in 2016, went with a psychedelic pattern of exploding lime greens, purples, yellows and pinks on a black background for Round 1.
Think ‘60s: “Laugh-in.” Jimi Hendricks. Acid rock.
Rock Bottom Golf, the company Daly has partnered with, calls Friday’s choice Shagadelic.
“One of our loudest patterns,” said Anna Cladakis, Daly’s fiancé, who was wearing a matching pair of shorts, which is helpful for Daly.
“That way I can find her,” he said.
TimberTech Championship: Leaderboard
Daly, who drives his RV to most tournaments, had no trouble picking out Anna without spectators allowed on the grounds because of the coronavirus pandemic. But if for any reason he could not, he certainly heard her cheering on her man after his eight birdies and an eagle on No. 18 (his ninth hole of the day). Daly also had two bogeys.
The wildly popular Daly would have been basking in the adoration as he conquered 6,807-yard The Old Course.
“It would have been crazy out here if we had a lot of fans,” he said.
Crazier than his outfit? Probably not. But Daly would not have been difficult to find in pants that look like they were lifted from the cover of a Cream album. One thing that is different with him, though, is the shaggy gray beard Daly started growing when he was diagnosed with bladder cancer about two months ago.
John Daly finishes his round on the ninth hole at the PGA Tour Champions TimberTech Championship in Boca Raton, Florida. Photo by Richard Graulich/Palm Beach Post
“If it gets too bad, I might have to trim a little bit, but I’m going to keep it,” he said. “It may be down to the ground before this thing gets over with but that means I’m still living.”
Daly, who uses a cart, said he is constantly tired. He said he is trying to drink the right stuff but “it’s hard to take Diet Coke away from me.” He said Friday he was “proud” of himself for “only” smoking six cigarettes during the round. “Usually I smoke a pack and a half.” He’s trying to cut back, “but hell, who knows. Can’t quit instantly.” He said his next chemotherapy treatment is in about a month.
Daly later got emotional when talking about his cancer. His eyes watered and his voice cracked when he mentioned the support he has received from the players and caddies.
“They’re awesome, they’ve been great,” he said.
And probably surprised to see Daly’s name at the top of the leaderboard. Daly won once on the Champions tour, in 2017, and has just 10 top-10 finishes in 77 starts. And The Old Course does not exactly fit the game of player who likes to boom his driver.
Daly said he used seven 3-woods and seven drivers during the first round. On the 507-yard 18th, he hit a driver and a 7-iron to about 12 feet before sinking the eagle putt. He drove it onto the fringe on the 290-yard par-4 7th hole and made a short birdie putt.
“I just hit it really good,” he said. “The bad drives that I did hit, I could find it. I just putted really, really good.”
Like the old saying goes: “Drive for show, putt for dough.” And Daly is one of golf’s all-time showman, with the threads to match.
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