Golfer John Daly is not subtle. Not his swing. Not the candor about his life. Not his attire. The impression he leaves is as hard-hitting as his tee shots.
Daly will bring that big persona to the Allianz Championship, held Feb. 6 to Feb. 12 in Boca Raton, at the Old Course at Broken Sound.
The five-time PGA Tour winner took the golf world by storm in 1991. Daly, then a 25-year-old unknown, rose from ninth alternate on a Wednesday to PGA Championship winner on Sunday. He blasted his way to that first major victory with monster drives of 300-plus yards and a calm that defied the enormity of the situation. The chain-smoking Daly’s appeal as a fun-and-likeable underdog related to non-fans as much as golf aficionados.
But the everyman was all too human. Since that impactful debut, he’s dealt publicly with alcohol rehabilitation, failed marriages and a gambling addiction that he says netted $50 million in losses.
The man who once hit a 440-yard drive in a practice round has powered his way past the setbacks. Daly won the 1995 British Open and has since founded a clothing line and golf course design company.
Now 50, Daly remains abrupt with his drives, garb and country music performances.
He will join an Allianz Championship field that includes 63 players who have won on the PGA Tour, including eight Hall of Famers. None, however, are as blunt or human as Daly.
He spoke with us about his life and career in advance of his Boca appearance:
How do you define yourself?
I would have to say what sums it up best for me is, ‘I’m still alive.’ I don’t know how I could answer it any other way.
If you had to describe your golf swing to someone who’d never seen you play, what would you say?
My swing really doesn’t even need description. It’s a long back swing. The one thing I can say about it is that I don’t start coming down with it until I can see the head of the club in the corner of my left eye.
Why the outlandish clothing? It seems out of sync with your blue-collar personality.
What other company has a line of clothing where you can have this much fun with your pants on?
Your soul-bearing nature connects with people from all walks of life. Based on how you’ve handled your high and low experiences, do you have advice for anyone enduring rough times?
You just have to keep fighting. That’s all you can do. Keep fighting. No matter what comes your way, just keep fighting.
Do you still gamble?
I take a gamble by getting up every morning. I call it life.
What is your favorite song to perform and why?
‘Knocking on Heaven’s Door,’ just because I feel I have come so close and feel like I have been more or less doing just that for a long time now.