Golfs history is liberally sprinkled with the results of fates whimsies, events that brought reason to a screeching halt and left the golfing world scratching its head.
Francis Ouimet, a young amateur, outplayed the world renowned Harry Vardon and Edward Ray to win the 1913 US Open in a playoff. Books were written about it, a movie made.
A relative unknown named Jack Fleck, who earlier in the week could have walked through the galleries unrecognized, even if he was carrying a sign with his name on it, played fearlessly to beat four-time champion Ben Hogan in a playoff to win the US Open in 1955.
The most what is the word?bizarre, maybe, of these shocking interventions was John Daly's triumph in the 1991 PGA Championship at Crooked Stick Golf Course in Carmel, Ind. They are playing the 94th PGA next week on Kiawah Island. Daly will be there, but in spite of that victory and another stunning win in the British Open at St. Andrews, he will be more decorative than threatening. He's 46 years old now and hasn't won in eight years.
Wherever Daly walks around the Ocean Course, though, heads will turn. Since winning that PGA Championship, he has, for good or bad, made us look.
Heres how close he came to missing out in that PGA. He was the ninth alternate. Nine people had to drop out for him to get in. Nick Price was the ninth, withdrawing to go home for the birth of a child.
When Daly learned he was in, he was 450 miles away from the course, in Memphis. He had 15 hours to get to Carmel, just outside Indianapolis, driving seven and a half hours through the night. Without benefit of a practice round, he shot 69-67-69-71 to win by three on a brutal course that one player said could best be described by using profanity.
The world had discovered the man whose nickname was Wild Thing.
It had found the biggest, longest swing in golf, one that produced 300 yard drives before they became routine. And the world had seen the first installment of a soap opera-like life. Dalys life has been well chronicled. The drinking, the gambling, the rages, quitting in mid-round or playing give-up golf, the wives. Through it all, he has remained a gallery favorite.
Hes different, always has been. He wears outrageously designed clothing for the money. He sets up a trailer at tournament sites and sells apparel and trinkets. He writes songs, plays them on his guitar and sings them sometimes at night spots. One of his songs is All My Exes Wear Rolexes.
He is, or was, truly a Wild Thing, but it would not be stretching the truth to say he has been and still is beloved.
How can you not like a guy who pounds old St. Andrews with that impossibly long backswing, wins the Claret Jug once held by most of the great players of all time, and when asked to say a few words at the prim and proper presentation said, "What the hell do you want me to say?"
Thats John Daly.