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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
people
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
tech
News
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice