Daly makes a fashion statement

Was that John Daly out there on the fifth hole? Or was it really Bruno?

Big John showed up for a practice round at the British Open this morning (NZ time) wearing striped pants, and we're not talking subtle. Black, brown, pink, orange, with a dash of beige thrown in for good measure, and held up by a pink leather belt.

Daly is probably the only one who would even attempt this ensemble at this staid ol' event - that is, unless Sonny and Cher have a history on the links that no one knows about.

"Not a good look at all," said Rachel C. Weingarten, a former celebrity makeup artist and author of the books "Hello Gorgeous" and "Career and Corporate Cool."

"It's almost as though he's channeling the late Chris Farley."

OK, so Daly is pushing the bounds of good taste. Then again, style is in the eye of the beholder. What's garish to someone, is hip to another.

There are snazzy outfits all over the course, from the ever dapper Ian Poulter to clotheshorse Darren Clarke to Latin cool Sergio Garcia.


As Bruno, the fictitious Austrian fashion reporter portrayed by Sacha Baron Cohen, might say:

"Uber cool!"

One thing's for sure: The era of polyester and Sansabelt is over.

Many golfers appear to spend as much time in front of the mirror as they do on the driving range.

"I don't try to make a statement at all," insisted Garcia, whose most memorable fashion moment - or infamous, depending on your taste - might have been a top-to-bottom yellow outfit that made him look like a giant banana during the closing round of the 2006 British Open at Hoylake.

"I just wear what I feel is comfortable, and I just wear the good things that (sponsor) Adidas sends me," said Garcia, looking fairly buttoned-down in a lime green shirt and black pants.

"I try to mix it around a little bit to show as much of the collection as they send me."

Make no mistake, the fashion game is as much about money as it about style. Top players like Garcia are paid millions to serve as de facto models as well as walking promos for equipment.

In 2002, his contract with Adidas was reported at US$7 million ($11 million) a year. Tiger Woods reportedly signed a US$100 million, five-year deal with Nike in 2001 that was renegotiated in 2006.

Woods and Garcia aside, just about every golfer has some sort of logo subtly, but unmistakably, displayed on his attire - usually a small emblem over the heart or at the base of the neck - or both.

But more guys than ever are taking a hands-on approach to their working clothes, none more so than Poulter. The 33-year-old Englishman once wore slacks at the US PGA Championship that looked like they were cut from Old Glory, and he's played the British Open in trousers emblazoned with the winner's claret jug.

Poulter launched his own clothing line, hawks his products on the Web and even invented his own style of tartan, which is registered with all the proper Scottish authorities and carries the coat of arms "Weave Truth With Trust."

A cagey business ploy, according to Weingarten.

"Ian Poulter is an interesting story because he's young and hip and being marketed more as a fashion statement designer," she said in an email to The Associated Press.

"He's young enough, cute enough and just outrageous enough to sell his clothing to even those who don't play or embrace the sport. It's a great licensing move by whomever is managing his brand."

Daly, his career dogged by personal and financial demons, was in need of quick cash when he agreed to a merchandising deal with Loudmouth Golf. Now, he's wearing wildly colored pants that look like holdovers from the 1960s. Or perhaps a leftover circus tent.

One writer quipped that Daly is now visible from space.

"It's been great. We've had a blast with it," Daly said.

"It's something different, and sales are good,"

The company has 28 different styles of slacks, and he's eager to wear every one of them. Of course, he's never been afraid to stand out.

"I didn't have any deals," Daly said. The company's owner, a longtime friend, asked, "Do you want to wear my pants, and I said, 'Yeah, I'll wear 'em."'

Weingarten gave the daring look a big thumbs-down.

"It would seem that Daly's new clothing endorsement is an attempt to make things larger than life in a new way - maybe in the way that chef's pants have become equally outrageous instead of the old school black and white check," she said. "Daly's physique, though, makes it somewhat difficult even if those with outrageous tastes embrace his bright new style aesthetic."

Besides, she wonders if golf will ever lead a true fashion revolution - no matter what sort of outfit Daly comes up with next.

"Golf isn't fast-paced and the golf-playing, golf-watching demographic aren't trendy, but perhaps this look can act to make them feel as though the sport has new life in it," Weingarten said. "I'm not buying this statement, though. Even with borrowing heavily from '60s and '70s prints, it's just not an organic or elegant statement."

Lee Westwood could care less. He practiced on Wednesday in something from his gray-on-gray collection. ("Zo boring," Bruno might say.)

"I can't say I've pieced together my wardrobe for the week," the Englishman said. "I wear whatever's clean."

Originally appeared in the New Zealand Herald.

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