John Daly: Wild sing

Making music about the highways, byways and fairways of life helps John Daly tune up for another Open
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The Independent Online

It may one day rate up there with such country classics as "I've Been Roped And Thrown By Jesus In The Holy Ghost Corral" and "I'd Rather Have A Bottle In Front Of Me Than A Frontal Lobotomy".

The difference with John Daly's "Lost Soul" is a) the economy of the title; b) the unrelenting darkness of the lyric, all of it true, set to a dainty four-chord loop, and with an opening line of "I lost my mom three years ago, dad pulled a gun on me"; and c) the others have never been sung on the eve of a major by a double major winner in one the world's most famous music venues.

While Tiger Woods, Colin Montgomerie, Nick Faldo et al were probably having a salad or pasta, downing mineral water and getting an early night on Tuesday, Daly was at the Cavern Club on Mathew Street, Liverpool, chewin' the fat and then singing the blues.

Today, in a three-ball that includes Montgomerie, the 40-year-old American "Wild Thing" will attempt to roll back the years and seek the form that won him the Open at St Andrews back in 1995. At the Cavern, he was content to talk about the turbulent intervening years: the alcohol problems; the multiple divorces; the $60m (£33.7m) gambling habit - and the bad times as well. Then he sang his soul out.

Ostensibly, he was there to promote his warts'n'all autobiography, My Life In & Out of the Rough. But he was also there because, to use a homespun phrase, that's just the kinda guy he is.

His backing band for the night were a local trio called Blues Shouter, who are used to playing with a lush: Connie Lush to be precise, a British blues singer. They were more than happy to be backing a former lush.

"Absolutely no practice at all," said guitarist John Lewis of his prep for the gig, which he was offered only a week ago. He met Daly for the first time 10 minutes before they took to the stage, and only then did he learn what they would be playing. "Luckily, we'd been on John's website and listened to a few of his tracks," Lewis said. And his verdict at the end? "Fantastic."

Fortunately, Daly is a better musician than Lewis is golfer. "I play but I'm really crap," said the axeman, a former member of China Crisis and one-time warm-up act for the likes of Chuck Berry and Fats Domino.

In music, as in life, Daly wears his heart on his sleeve. His laundry bills must be astronomical. "Lost Soul" includes a line about his fourth wife, Sherrie, being "in the pen" (serving time for laundering drug money), and has a chorus "I'm a lost soul on a lonely road". It was followed by a rousing rendition of Bob Dylan's "Knockin' on Heaven's Door". It wasn't subtle. It was funny. Daly amended the final verse to "Haven't made a cut in weeks, my career looks so bleak". But it was stirring. It required no small measure of restraint to stop short of waving a cigarette lighter in the air.

The question now is whether he can set Hoylake alight - and not in a bad way as his many fag ends are inevitably discarded around these tinderbox links. "I'm hitting it pretty good," he said. "This week I can do well if I make some putts. In Chicago a couple of weeks ago I had eight birdies and an eagle chance all from six or seven feet and I didn't make any of them. If you make three or four of them you get your confidence."

Talking about Montgomerie, with whom he empathised last year over the Scot's divorce, Daly said: "Colin can definitely win this week. Maybe in the past he's put pressure on himself but I think he's kind of freewheeling at the moment.

"You can't make yourself win a major - you got to let it happen," the American added. "I think that when you go through difficulties outside the course, being inside the ropes makes it easier. That's how it worked for me, anyway. When I was playing golf, nobody could get to me and make me feel negative. I couldn't wait to get inside the ropes."

He still can't wait, for the best of reasons now, and that's music to the ears of what is sure to be a huge following here.

On the Hoylake card: Could waterproof trousers help Tiger to retain his Open crown?

YOUNG AMERICAN Patrick Reed, from Baton Rouge, is the Junior Open champion. Reed, 16 and of of Irish descent, had rounds of 73, 70 and 74 for a one-over-par aggregate of 217 at Heswall and won by three shots from the German Maximilian Kraemer and the 13-year-old South Korean girl Jungeun Han. In temperatures up in the 30s, Reed surprised spectators by wearing waterproof trousers. "It's a lot hotter and more humid than this in Louisiana," he claimed.

LEADING WOMEN players cannot expect an easier route into the Open in the near future. For the first time this year the Championship was not restricted to men. The top five finishers in each of the four women's majors were told they could enter at the 18-hole local qualifying stage. If successful at that they would then have to play a 36-hole final qualifier - but nobody took up the chance.

A MASSIVE gamble on Tiger Woods to make a successful defence of his Open title could cost bookmakers Ladbrokes over £2.5m. A £50,000 each-way bet on Tuesday afternoon was quickly followed up with another £50,000 win bet yesterday.

OPEN ORGANISERS are introducing drug testing - not at Hoylake but at the world amateur team championships in South Africa later in the year. The Royal and Ancient Golf Club's chief executive Peter Dawson said: "We don't think at the moment that there is much use of performance-enhancing drugs in golf. There have been quite a number of drugs tests, mainly in France, and the majority of the positive tests were for social drugs... That said, we do support the introduction of drug testing. "

THE LATE Mark McCormack, once dubbed the most powerful man in sport, will become a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame in October. McCormack, whose signing of Arnold Palmer in 1960 ushered in his International Management Group company, died in 2003 after a heart attack. "Without him professional golfers would not enjoy the rewards they get today," the Hall of Fame member and former R&A secretary Sir Michael Bonallack said. "He was quite a remarkable man. And he looked at the much broader field. He looked at the benefit of the game and it was this that led him to start the course of the world rankings, which was his baby, his idea." McCormack will be inducted on 30 October at the World Golf Village in St Augustine, Florida, along with Vijay Singh Larry Nelson, LPGA pioneer Marilynn Smith and (also posthumously) Henry Picard.