Daly’s style not only thing get­ting no­tice

Flam­boy­ant player sur­pris­ingly in hunt

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - By Nancy Ar­mour

ST. AN­DREWS, Scot­land — John Daly’s score­card was the only thing get­ting more at­ten­tion than his pants.

Golf’s most en­ter­tain­ing sideshow was at it again Thurs­day, ty­ing his best round at the Bri­tish Open with a 6-un­der 66 on the Old Course. It put him atop the leader-board, a spot that, re­gard­less how brief the stay, would have been unimag­in­able dur­ing the lat­est chap­ter in his pulp fic­tion life.

“I’ve never ran from my mis--

‘When you have so many ups and downs in life, like ev­ery­body does, some smaller and big­ger, it makes it so much more grat­i­fy­ing when you do some­thing spe­cial.’

JOHN DALY, af­ter his first-round 66

Con­tin­ued from C1 takes. I’ve al­ways kind of been the man that you’re sup­posed to be when you screw up — and I’ve screwed up an aw­ful lot, not just on tour, but in other as­pects of life,” Daly said. “I think it’s how you come back and deal with it. I don’t know if it’s mo­ti­va­tion for fans or if it’s help­ing them. What­ever it is, as long as it’s a pos­i­tive, to me that’s all that mat­ters.

“When you have so many ups and downs in life, like ev­ery­body does, some smaller and big­ger, it makes it so much more grat­i­fy­ing when you do some­thing spe­cial.”

Daly birdied seven of the first 11 holes, and he might have chal­lenged leader Rory McIlroy if not for four putts that lipped out. One, on 17, led to his only bo­gey of the day.

That Daly is a spec­tac­u­lar tal­ent has never been in doubt. You don’t go from last al­ter­nate to ma­jor cham­pion, as he did at the 1991 PGA Cham­pi­onship, with­out con­sid­er­able game. And you sure don’t win a sec­ond ma­jor — the Bri­tish Open here at St. An­drews, no less — by be­ing lucky.

Daly is Ev­ery­man. Fans can’t help but be charmed, see­ing a lit­tle bit of them­selves in him. Or maybe a lit­tle bit of who they would like to be. He hits driver when he should hit irons. He goes for shots that in­evitably end badly. He be­lieves “grip it and rip it” is more than just a cute slo­gan.

Daly’s nick­name was “Wild Thing,” and he more than lived up to it.

Among other things, he trashed a ho­tel room in 1997 dur­ing The Play­ers Cham­pi­onship and once did a TV in­ter­view to pro­mote a golf course wear­ing only blue jeans. No shirt, no shoes. The PGA Tour has put him in time­out-mode five times (his dis­ci­plinary file was a hefty 456 pages as of fall 2008), fined him $100,000 and or­dered him to at­tend coun­sel­ing or al­co­hol re­hab seven times. He’s also lost part of a con­sid­er­able for­tune to four ex-wives, gam­bling and bad loans to friends.

But at 44, even Daly has had enough of his high-wire act. He’s lost al­most 100 pounds since hav­ing Lap-Band surgery in Fe­bru­ary 2009, and he said he’s quit drink­ing and eat­ing as much junk.

There’s still a long way to go. Daly has dropped to 455th in the world rank­ings. He has just one top-50 fin­ish this year.

Fans get a kick out of him. They ap­plauded as he strolled up the 18th fair­way smok­ing a cig­a­rette and wear­ing laven­der pais­ley pants.

“All of these pants, the good thing about them is you get dressed in the dark, any shirt is go­ing to match,” Daly said.

Not re­ally. Daly’s sky-blue sweater, peach shirt and turquoise hat were cringe-wor­thy, more ac­cept­able for a 3-yearold dress­ing him­self.

But as Daly is try­ing to prove, it’s his game that mat­ters. And he feels at home at St. An­drews.

“I don’t know why, it just suits my game,” he said. “It’s, to me, my fa­vorite course all over the world.”

Peter Mor­ri­son

John Daly, who shot a 66 in the first round of the Bri­tish Open on Thurs­day, said he feels at home at the Old Course at St. An­drews, Scot­land. ‘I don’t know why, it just suits my game,’ he said.

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