As the Travelers Championship is underway, one of my buddies noticed John Daly on the scoreboard and that he appeared to be playing pretty well. “Look,” he said, “Daly has two birdies in his first 7 holes….he may make the cut this year.” I too was surprised, not so much that Daly was playing relatively well, but that frankly, that he was even still playing the game.
Despite Daly’s well-documented on and off course issues, I have always been a fan. In fact, I would love nothing more than for John Daly to get his act together and actually win another major.
Golf fans still care about John Daly because his life emulates real life, which serves as both lessons of inspiration and tales of caution.
On the inspirational side, Daly did not come from a privileged background and toiled relentlessly in rural Arkansas with fierce determination to learn and excel at golf. After turning professional in 1987, he soon became the youngest active player at that time on the PGA Tour with two major championship titles.
On the cautionary side, Daly soon hit a wall as his personal and professional life spiraled downward faster than his rapid ascent…alcohol, gambling, adultery, etc. How many times have we heard or seen this happen, whether with celebrities, family or friends?
But the main reason I am still a fan of John Daly is that despite his issues, he still soldiers on. On the course, he has some good days and mostly bad days and must rely on sponsor exemptions to keep playing. But he loves his fans and keeps hitting the course, trying to stay positive in search of that elusive next victory. This determination and grit to continue on day after day despite lack of confidence and often public ridicule is something to be admired. It takes guts.
To be clear, John Daly’s prospects of a successful return to golf are not promising. He ranks in the bottom 600’s in the public golf rankings.
But it always makes me smile a little when I see his name mentioned in a tournament, especially if he is keeping relative pace with other top pros.
So, I am rooting for John Daly and hopes he continues to re-build his game and life. But first, here’s hoping that he makes the cut at the Travelers Championship.