Travelers Championship Review. Daly Still Draws Them In. By Rick Wilson.
While he may not battle for as many titles as he once did, John Daly remains a crowd favorite wherever he plays. Rick Wilson talked with Daly on Saturday at the Travelers.
CROMWELL – 8-2-3-3. Not a lotto combination. Translation – quadruple bogey, birdie, birdie, eagle. Welcome to John Daly’s world.
That was the 10th through 13th holes for Daley enroute to an even-par 70 in Saturday’s third round of the Travelers Championship at River Highlands that left him at two-under and well back in the pack for the tournament.
Feast or famine, hasn’t it always been that way for the long-driving man with the golden talent and prodigious and uncontrolled passions. The guy with the soft hands and a PGA Championship and British Open along with 1991 Rookie of the Year and 2004 Comeback Player of the Year honors on his resume
While at the same time a guy who once said about himself – “Everyone has addictions and my problem is that I have 5,000 of them. If it’s not drinking, it’s gambling; it it’s not gambling, it’s eating anything from burgers to doughnuts to M&Ms. The only addiction I don’t suffer from is chasing women.”
But maybe it is all why people are still drawn to the 48-year old although he hardly ever contends in a tournament and is fighting to keep his playing card while relying at times on sponsor’s exemptions which got him into the Travelers.
You had better hope Daly is not every man. This is a guy that claims he has lost $50-60 million gambling, was suspended for walking off the course once, has been married four times, and been in alcohol rehab. That’s enough to get you going. Assuredly there is more. Oops how about this golf one, the highest score every registered in a PGA event on one hole, an 18 on a par-5 at Bay Hill in 1998.
But maybe there is a little of Daly in every man, the unpredictability and the envy for someone with the guts to say I don’t care what people think. And there has always been that great golf game, the leaves you shaking your head at what has been and what could have been.
Daly teed off at 9:24 in the third round with someone named Tyrone VanAswegen. When you tee off that early you are not battling to get into the final group on the final day. But there they were on a brilliant Saturday morning, a healthy throng of supporters ready to root on Daly, creating an ovation usually reserved for an afternoon tee time on the third day of a tournament.
Daly has never denied what he is all about and he understands it all keeps bringing people back.
“I think they have no clue as to what I’m going to do next,” said Daley of his popularity. “I’ve always been an underdog. I have no skeletons in the closet, I’ve never lied to the media and the people have always been great.”
So there was Daly on this vintage morning, cigarette dangling from his mouth, mullet blondish haircut in full force. And with Daly there is always the attire. This is a guy that also said once that he could get dressed in the dark because it didn’t matter. Nothing matched anyway.
Today was a pink shirt with a pair of pants that looked something like a Rorschach test, white background with a multitude of lines swirling around. He matched and most of the Hartford area could see that. The shoes were white and pink and his blue and pink bag with his two majors emblazoned on it along with “Grip it and Rip it” fit right in.
It may not be your neighborhood bar attire, but there is so much of the common man in Daley’s duds, far removed from the slick urban golfer.
But for all the show and there will always be the show, there is still golf in Daly’s life. He is just two years away from the Senior Tour but that can and will wait. In the meantime, the game on the PGA Tour still matters.
Inconsistency haunts him – “If we only played 14 holes, I probably would have won 65 majors by now,” he said.
Daly talked about opportunities on a course he really likes and feels he can score on.
“(My ball) did a 360 on No. 14, I had a chance on 16. There were a lot of opportunities,” said Daly. “It gives me a chance to do something tomorrow.”
Daly finished the day with 11 pars, four birdies, an eagle, a bogey and a double bogey. Up, down, up, down. But, always the ability to recover.
Daly, who has won just $51,109 this year, making just four cuts always leaves you wondering. What comes tomorrow?
Nobody knows, nobody has ever known. But the mystery and the man writing the mystery makes you want to know. Saturday was just another day in the John Daly saga.
Good and not so good. It is always that way with Daly. The imperfections and the acknowledgement of the imperfections keep bringing them back. He was colorful long before his attire lit up the day and night.
He has always caught the attention and he continues to do so. John Daly has never had to win to bring the fans in. He just has had to be John Daly and all that comes with that to keep them coming.
And they still come. They like the guy. What’s he going to do next. We’re still asking and we still want to know.