By Matt Cohen | Social Media & Site Editor
Fuzzy Zoeller once said of his friend John Daly that he would be lucky to make it to 50. Well now Daly is less than a year away, as April 28th marked Big John’s 49th birthday. Daly is a two-time major champion, having won the 1991 PGA Championship and 1995 Open Championship.
One of the most colorful, controversial and entertaining golfers of this generation, it’s been fun watching ‘Big John’ do his thing. Here’s our list of some of his more notorious achievements, on and off the course.
John Daly Bizarre Moments
1. 1998 Tin Cup Moment
During the 1998 PGA Tour’s Bay Hill Invitational, Daly used a three-wood to hit six golf balls into the water during the final round. Daly finally got his seventh attempt over the water which was a distance of approximately 270 yards. Daly shot an 18 on the par-five sixth hole and finished the round with a score of 85. Tin Cup would be proud.
Footage of a similar meltdown from 2011:
2. Florida-Times Union Lawsuit
In 2005, Daly sued the Florida Times-Union, claiming he was defamed by a column that discussed his past. Daly sued over statements that he’s “accused of smacking women around” and that he has “Thug Life qualifications.” A judge threw the case out in 2009.
3. 2007 Fan Incident
Daly is still pursuing legal action against the PGA Tour for a mishap involving a fan who took his picture during the first round of the 2007 Honda Classic. Daly contends he was hurt when a female spectator jumped in front of him to take his picture as he was teeing off at the 12th hole at PGA National. He says he tried to stop his swing, hit behind the ball, and fractured two ribs and separated his right shoulder, negatively impacting his career for the rest of that season and years to come.
“I was playing with Shigeki Maruyama,” Daly said during a wide-ranging interview on his RV, which he parked at Hooters in Augusta in order to sign merchandise and pose for pictures during the most recent Masters Tournament. “This lady didn’t even have a ticket — she came out of one of the houses. The weird thing is we warned her twice. We didn’t think she’d do it. I hit about that far behind the ball, and my ribs went one way, my shoulder went the other way.” – Golf.com.
4. 2008 Suspension
In December of 2008, Daly was suspended by the PGA Tour for six months. Since the Tour does not discuss fines or suspensions, the true reasoning for Daly’s suspension was never known. Big John however contented that it came due to unwelcome publicity. Daly was taken into protective custody after Winston-Salem police found him drunk outside a Hooters. He smashed a tee shot off the top of a beer can during a Pro-Am. At another tournament, he returned from a rain delay with Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden as his caddie.
5. Drug Testing Rant
Earlier this year, Daly absolutely went off on the PGA Tour and its drug testing policy, calling the randomness of the testing a complete joke.
Daly really let PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and chief of operations Andy Pazder have it, saying, “Andy Pazder, if you listen to this show, you and Tim Finchem get off your ass and get it right. You know, I’m tired of it. Because it has to be random; this is bulls—. And I’m sorry, fine me, I don’t care what you do, fine me, but do it randomly.”
Listen to the full rant below.
— SXM PGA TOUR Radio (@SiriusXMPGATOUR) March 11, 2015
Bonus: Charity Work & Businesses
While we seem to only hear about the failed marriages, $60 million in gambling losses and alcohol addiction, there’s another side to Big John that doesn’t get as much ink.
After winning the PGA Championship at Crooked Stick Golf Club in 1991, Daly gave $30,000 to the family of a man who died during the tournament due to lightning strike. The money was used by the family to pay college expenses for the man’s two daughters. Daly was just starting his golf career and was not wealthy at the time (full story).
Daly has donated money to his high school, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Daly is also an active supporter of the sports programs at the University of Arkansas, his alma mater. He has shaved his signature “mullet”, and donated the proceeds from the event to various charities.
Daly is in partnership with the very successful Loudmouth Golf line of clothing, which includes licensing deals with the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys and Arkansas Razorbacks and several other teams. Daly also has a golf course design company (JD Designs). He’s helped design Sevillano Links at Rolling Hills Casino in Corning, California, Wicked Stick Golf Links in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and a half dozen more.
So while Daly has often times had a big mouth, a big belly and always a big swing, more than anything the man has a big heart. So we salute you John Daly – may you continue to be the everyman we love you for.