Daly the larger than life enigma from a bygone age - Golf - Sport - The Independent

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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen