Daly the larger than life enigma from a bygone age

As much in his private life as in his golf, nobody represents this better than John Daly. Daly is a model of inconsistency. A surprise winner of The Open at St Andrews 10 years ago, when he defeated Costantino Rocca in a four-hole play-off, Daly's career since then has pretty much moved sideways. One of the longest hitters the game has ever known, and with a fine touch around the greens, Daly can shoot the lights out one day and drop out of sight the next. He has paid for such inconsistency at the Opens since his triumph, missing the cut five times, including last year at Troon when a first-round 70 was followed by a 78.

Even by his own extreme standards, Daly arrived here this week looking seriously out of shape, his midriff dangling inelegantly over his trousers. Odds-makers do not expect him to be in contention but only a few in the field will attract larger galleries. The reason is simple. In an era of automated golf, concentrated coaching, sports psychologists, fitness trainers and nutritionists, Daly remains his own man. Golf fans are drawn to his boldness. If Daly reaches for his driver they murmur in anticipation. If club selection indicates a conservative move they groan in disappointment. Most swings are about 380 degrees. Daly's is at least 580. It starts somewhere between his knees and his navel on the backswing and goes around three or four times before it hits the ball.

When he makes perfect contact, the ball goes screaming out of there and almost comes down glowing. When Daly miscues you need a pack of hounds to find it. Greg Normanprobably had Daly's name in mind when he bemoaned the disappearance of charismatic golfers. "Young players look much the same," he said. "They are so concerned about protecting a professional image that they fail to show their personalities. You don't see a Craig Stadler out there any more, hardly any characters. Seve [Ballesteros] was great to watch because you never knew what to expect. There are some outstanding players out there but how many of them capture the public's attention?"

When Ernie Els first came to prominence he was determined to enjoy himself, to take a broader view. "I wanted to win majors, to be the best," I remember him saying, "but I wasn't going to let golf dominate me. If you can't do that, make time to relax and for my family, what's the point?"

Many of today's players convey the impression that they are stumbling about in a fog because their 20-20 vision is focused sharply on a single problem in life, the golf swing. Thus, in technique, one player looks very much like another. Idiosyncratic movement is rare.

Golf is a game in which the worst thing that can happen to you is a ball out of bounds.Hardly anyone needs crutches and the bleeding is internal. A golfer's idea of trauma is a bare lie or a ball plugged in sand. You don't have to run fast, tackle hard or knock anybody down. Tournament players go through life with a suntan. An exceptional gift for golf is like finding money.

Whether this remains the case depends on the younger generation. Daly, on the other hand, does not have to make a case for himself. If the idea appeals he will reach for his driver and belt the hell out of the ball. There is a more conservative way to negotiate the St Andrews links, but in this over-coached sporting world there is a lot be said for Daly's philosophy.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm actor was just 68
Arts and Entertainment
Preparations begin for Edinburgh Festival 2014
Edinburgh festivalAll the best shows to see at Edinburgh this year
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices