No, you did not win that golf tournament on Bear Mountain. You didn’t have to. All you had to do was show up in those crazy polka-dotted pants, blow smoke into the camera lens and remind us that it’s a game.
Because you’re John Daly in screaming Loudmouth pants. And there is only one John Daly.
You were the one-man ticker-tape parade that brought sleepy Bear Mountain to life, roused Victoria from its slumber and scared the deer off the fairway with your pants.
You even managed to cause a ruckus at the newspaper. A photographer with the Victoria Times-Colonist captured you in all your glory – modeling the sponsor’s Loudmouth pants you’ve made famous, sucking out your pot belly, furiously puffing on a cigarette while practising your putting for the PGA Tour Champions Pacific Links tournament.
Victoria’s stuffed shirts were horrified when the splendid color photo of you leaped off the front page the next morning.
The last time the Times-Colonist was under assault from hand-wringing readers it was Bambi under assault for terrorizing the residents of Oak Bay. You have never been confused with Bambi. A caller to the Times-Colonist complained that the decision to trumpet you on the front page was “a disgusting, offensive insult to your readers.” One can only imagine the riots on Government Street if the photographer had shot a photo of you carrying your caddy across the threshold of the bunker (caddy Anna Cladakis, a former Hooters restaurant employee, is also Daly’s fiancee and agent).
Editor-in-chief Dave Obee penned a column on the editorial page defending his decision to run the photo.
“I don’t believe we should filter images to avoid offending anyone,” Obee concluded in the column, alleging that filter-tipped cigarette smoke, pot bellies and loud pants would not be banned from future front pages.
Controversy has been the one constant in your life. Since being thrust into golf’s spotlight three decades ago when you started to unleash those cannonading drives on the patented diet of popcorn and Jack Daniels, you’ve learned to roll with the punches and shrug off insults about your weight (presumably, the PGA also wants you to slim down, officially listing you at 5’11” and 210 pounds).
A study in contradictions, you are loved or hated, but mostly loved when sporting golf spikes. On Bear Mountain, Eun Key Yoon, Pacific Links International Korean ambassador, said it was a dream come true to be partnered with one of golf’s legendary characters in the Pro-Am round of the tournament.
Those who questioned your fitness and image, including a Canadian Professional Golf Association official, were promptly silenced as you fashioned a six-under-par 65 in the opening round of the over-50 seniors tour event. If they had walked in your shoes through battles with multiple addictions, including alcoholism and gambling, your critics would be rooting for you.
Your scores ballooned to 79 on each of the last two days but at least you went the distance and gave your fans a show. In May, you won your first pro tournament in 13 years at the Insperity Invitation. You are a respectable 21st on the tour this year with $633,000 in earnings. Not bad for a chain smoker with a paunch.
On the mountain course at Bear Mountain, there were no reports of the old John Daly. No reports of you driving balls in the opposite direction off the tee, or refusing to sign a scorecard, or walking off the course to the 19th hole at the nine-hole turn or disqualifying yourself by angrily picking up your ball after a missed putt without completing the hole.
Those were actual incidents during your PGA Tour career that led to you’re being banished from the tour. In those times, you could even manage to rankle a man so gracious as the legendary Arnold Palmer, who once quipped after you angrily fired a ball in the opposite direction off the tee, “he could have killed somebody…”
When you’re a battle-scarred John Daly at 51, staying alive and staying in the game is a victory in itself and the boyish grin tells that tale. You need the game more more than the game needs you.
And it seems there will always be battles in your life. Even the great sports writer Rick Reilly has sparred with you in recent years, including a Twitter exchange over your visit with President Trump at the White House in July in which Reilly scolded you for spelling great ‘grt’.
Reilly: A) nice shirt. B) nice spelling.
You: A) at least I got invited to the White House. B) You will never. C) As for the spelling..who cares. D) The shirt is one of my sponsors, Loudmouth.
You’re John Daly, in screaming Loudmouth pants, still sporting spiked shoes, still kicking, still fighting, still getting the last word and it’s a beautiful thing. Life is ‘grt’!