By Dick Platt
Corsicana Daily Sun
Like many golf fans, I really like John Daly and I root for him to do well when he is on the telly. When he is on his game, he can be very tough but, when he is off, he can be an embarrassment to the game. His swing is absolutely unique as he winds up so much in his backswing, the club head almost touches the ground and when he cranks through on his downswing the swoosh is very audible. On his good days, he hits his tee shots 350 yards straight down the fairway — on his bad days, he hits about three fairways to the left or right of his intended target area.
Friday, John was having one of those bad days, which have become more and more frequent for him, at the Valspar Championship, Innesbrook Resort and Golf Club, Palm Harbor, Fla. He scored a career-high 90 strokes on the Par-71 Copperhead Course which included five bogeys, three double-bogeys, and an astounding octuple-bogey (8 over par) on the par-4 16th hole. The poor guy hit 10 of 18 greens in regulation but failed to make a single birdie.
His putting was atrocious as he had 70 putts over the first two days. John says that he has developed “the yips” lately. Heck he doesn’t have “the yips,” he has “the screamies.” He says, “...I should go put myself in a straightjacket and try that. I’ve always been a quick putter, so I should never get the yips. But I got ‘em. I got ‘em bad.” After Friday, his two day score was 164, 11 strokes worse than the next lowest player.
Needless to say, I won’t get to root for him this weekend. I will miss his wild swings and his even wilder wardrobe which is from his own “Loud Mouth” clothing line. His outfits are very striking — try to picture neon/-paisley/Hawaiian patterns from head to toe and that will be Big John Daly.
John has won two major championships in his career (the PGA Championship in 1991 and the 1995 U.S. Open), so he has the ability to play well. However, he has had no wins on the PGA Tour since 2004. He has had some monumental meltdowns in his golfing career as well as in his personal life.
In 1998, he shot an 18 on the par-5 6th hole at the Bay Hill Invitational. He hit six balls in the water from 270 yards out before he finally cleared the water. Kind of reminds one of that great scene from “Tin Cup.” In the U.S. Open in 2000, he scored a 14 on the par-5 18th hole. In the 2011 Australian Open, he had to withdraw during the first round because he had hit all of his balls in the water.
John has had four wives which is probably two above par and a very expensive proposition. He has battled weight problems, alcohol problems, chain smoking, and compulsive gambling. In 2009, he licked his weight problems with the help of “Lap-Band Surgery” and lost over 100 pounds. He no longer imbibes but still smokes all the way around the course. By his own estimation, he has lost $50 to $60 million gambling, including one instance where he dropped $1.5 million in a $5,000 slot machine at the Wynn Casino in Las Vegas. Who knew there even was a $5,000 slot machine? Believe me, when it comes to playing handicap golf, John has his handicaps.
Now that I have learned the term “octuple-bogey” which is scoring an 8 over par, I wonder it there are terms like “sextuple-bogey” (6 over) and “septuple-bogey” (7 over)? When I used to play with my brother-in-law, father-in-law, and Jim Burgess up there in Texas, we had a hard and fast rule. The highest score on any given hole was a “snowman” which is an eight. The name comes from the shape of the figure eight — get it? We also could take one “mulligan” stroke (a do-over) on the front nine holes and another “mulligan” on the back nine. Even with all those little perks, I would be lucky to match Big John’s all-time high score of 90.
I finally gave the silly game up when I came to the firm conclusion that I was a better golfer as a caddy in eighth grade than I was after 50 years of trying to get better. I have not regretted that decision and I have become an even more avid fan of the professionals.
So, the golf pro stormed into the clubhouse and slammed his clubs down in front of the assistant pro. “What the heck is wrong?” asked the assistant. The pro bellowed, “I just got beat by Jack Houlihan — he took me for $20 on each side!” “How could that be?” asked the assistant, “Houlihan is one of the worst players of all our membership.”
“The sucker tricked me,” said the pro, “On the first tee he asked for a handicap. I told him he could have as many strokes as he wanted. He said, ‘Just give me two ‘Gotchas.”’
“What’s a ‘Gotcha?’” asked the assistant. “That’s what I wanted to know and Houlihan said, ‘You’ll see.’ Then, on the first tee, just as I started my downswing, he screamed ‘Gotcha!’ The scream threw me off and I missed the ball completely.”
“Oh my gosh, now I understand,” said the assistant, “That had to be very disconcerting, but still, that’s only one swing. How did he manage to win the game?” The pro glared at him and sputtered, “You try swinging at a golf ball while waiting for that second ‘Gotcha’ to be screamed out!”
Dick Platt is a Daily Sun columnist. His column appears on Tuesdays. Want to “Soundoff” on this column? Email: email@example.com