Masters Diary: Lightweight Daly ready to get on the road to Europe
Saturday 11 April 2009
The John Daly Roadshow has parked itself across the street from the Augusta National this week and is selling autographed shirts for $20 a pop as the man himself desperately tries to avoid bankruptcy. In many respects it is an ignominious sight, but at least this time The Wild Thing really does seem to be getting his life together. And the intriguing news is that Britain is set to play a role in his latest rehabilitation.
The Independent understands that next month the two-time major winner is being lined up to play at the European Open in Kent, the Wales Open in Newport and maybe even the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth (although Daly has also been invited to the Colonial tournament in Texas and has a decision to make). If this run of events goes well, and indeed a couple he is also due to play in Spain, Italy and Ireland, then Daly may well relocate from America.
The 42-year-old is currently serving a six-month suspension from the PGA Tour after spending the night in jail when found incapacitated outside a North Carolina bar and for the first time in 17 years he has no sponsors, as he has slumped to 783rd in the world. Hence the motor home from which he is frantically selling merchandise.
The many fans queuing there have been surprised by Daly's appearance. Since doing a "Fern Britton" and having a gastric-band fitted in February, he has lost three stones and gone down from an XXXL to an XL. What he does eat has to be chewed until it is soft enough to digest. Furthermore, it has blessedly affected Daly's legendary consumption. "It takes me about an hour to drink one beer," he said. Two things he has never done slowly is swing a golf club and drink beer. It has never been a case of grip it and sip it for big John. But it is now.
He has been practising with Rick Smith, Phil Mickelson's former coach, and apparently these sessions have gone well. The game has seen it all before, of course, and many will simply roll their eyes as they hear all the good intentions. Yet this time Daly insists it will be different. "This time it's for me," said Daly. "I don't have to really prove a lot anymore. I've just got to prove some stuff to myself." Who knows, perhaps he will even be able to drive his RV up Magnolia Lane next year. Without all the tasteless Wild Thing merchandise, naturally.
New BBC boss aims for the sky
This is Barbara Slater's first week in her role as the BBC's director of sport and she has shown just how highly the corporation values its Masters coverage by making the trip over to Augusta.
Slater has been meeting with the Masters officials, who are legendarily strict when it comes to their televisual "partners". Yet even allowing for the non-negotiable style of the green jackets, it must be hoped that Slater, along with her American counterparts, have been lobbying for more coverage. The BBC has long had to fend off complaints from frustrated viewers who cannot understand why the action is limited to three-and-a-half hours for the first three rounds, explaining this paucity of pictures from the most photogenic of courses is down to Augusta and Augusta only. For some reason, they have always sought to protect the sanctity of their tournament by limiting its exposure. Although they are buckling to some extent.
On Sunday, there will be five hours of live coverage; the most there has ever been. Imagine the plaudits Slater would gain if she could persuade them to extend their generosity to Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Then again, rookies fare notoriously poorly on their first visit here.
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