John Daly laments ‘lack of characters’ in game

John Daly strides down the fairway during the pro-am event prior to the Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Match Play which starts today at Murcar Links. Picture: Getty Images
John Daly strides down the fairway during the pro-am event prior to the Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Match Play which starts today at Murcar Links. Picture: Getty Images
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IT WAS lunchtime, blowing a hoolie and starting to rain. Any one of the three excuses, though the first one in particular, could easily have given the huddled Scottish press pack reason to give up on this assignment. After all, we weren’t even sure that John Daly was willing to stop for a chat and the big man seemed to be enjoying his own tucker so much that it appeared, through the windows of the players’ lounge at Murcar Links, he could be settling in for some time.

Wait we did, though, and, above the noise of rumbling stomachs, the star attraction in the inaugural Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Match Play, which starts today on the outskirts of Aberdeen, gave us ten minutes’ worth of his time that was the equivalent of a starter, main course and pudding rolled into one. Ahead of a first-round meeting today with Spaniard Jorge Campillo, the two-times major winner spoke about golf suffering from a lack of personalities due to the robotic nature of the modern-day game, how he’d turn the Americans into Ryder Cup winners again and his plan to blast his way around this course after being reunited with clubs that didn’t arrive at the same time as him in the Granite City.

“It’s about people who win,” insisted Daly in reply to being asked if golf needed characters in equal measure to hugely-talented players such as Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth. “Rickie Fowler has got a great personality and draws attention because he wears the big hats that kids like. But I think kids look more at guys who are winning, like Jordan Spieth. They are going to get attached to them. I grew up playing the game because of Jack Nicklaus – he was awesome but he won.

“But I also think it is important that golf has personalities, characters, charisma. I’m one of those guys you don’t know what the hell I’m going to do. I’m either going to piss you off or make you happy. But that’s me. It’s the way I’ve always been. It seems like golf is a little bit robotic in the sense that everybody wears a hat pretty much now because sponsors pay good money for that.”

Daly, who is a rare exception due to the fact he suffers from headaches when he wears anything other than the type of woolly hat required to combat the chill yesterday, singled out the pony-tailed Spaniard, Miguel Angel Jimenez, as a man after his own heart. “He’s a blast,” he said of the European Tour’s oldest winner. “We’ve not had a six or seven-hour binge, but we’ve had a few drinks together. He drinks wine – the women’s product. I drink beer – a man’s drink.”

One of Daly’s big disappointments is that he didn’t play in a Ryder Cup – the only major winner to miss out on the biennial bout. He is predicting that next year’s clash at Hazeltine will be “one of the best Ryder Cups we’ve ever seen” and hopes the PGA of America ripping up its rule book for the event in the wake of last year’s defeat at Gleneagles might open the door for him to be involved either as a vice-captain or even captain one day.

“If I was a captain, I’d make sure they had a blast,” said the 49-year-old Arkansas man. “It’s supposed to be fun, but I think we get wrapped up in it and put too much pressure on ourselves. From what I’ve heard, the Europeans go to every party on the Sunday night but, according to rumours, some of our team haven’t done that and that’s a shame. I think some of the guys, including Rickie, who doesn’t even drink, went at Gleneagles. But they should all go as a team.”

At 5,861 yards, Murcar Links is around 1,500 yards shorter than most European Tour courses. It’s a cracker for a match-play event, though, due to the risk-and-reward element on so many holes. “It’s a different style of course,” acknowledged Daly of the venue for an event where the winner will pick up around £120,000 from a total prize pot of £710,000. “It’s tight to hit the fairways, but it’s not too tight to play the course,” he added, referring to the fact he can still “grip it and rip it”. “If I get lucky and hit it straight, there are some holes I can drive. And at least I can get it close to the green if I do miss the fairway.”


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8:30am Kristoffer Broberg v Richard Finch

8:40am Richie Ramsay v Shiv Kapur

8:50am Magnus Carlsson v Edoardo Molinari

9:00am Matthew Fitzpatrick v Bradley Dredge

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