John Daly: Leicester fairytale like my PGA Championship win

As Leicester’s improbable Premier League title challenge came to glorious fruition last week, it was inevitable that comparisons would be sought in other sports.

Was their 5,000-1 success a bigger shock than Buster Douglas beating Mike Tyson, Foinavon winning the 1967 Grand National, or Greece winning the European Championships in 2004?

In golfing terms, was it a bigger surprise than world number 396 Ben Curtis winning the 2003 Open, or ninth reserve John Daly winning the 1991 US PGA Championship after driving through the night to take up his place in the tournament?

As if by magic, Daly happened to be preparing for his Champions Tour debut just days after Tottenham’s draw at Chelsea confirmed Leicester as champions and the two-time major winner was happy to jump on the bandwagon.

“I was fixing to say, it’s like me winning the PGA in ‘91,” Daly said ahead of his appearance in the Insperity Invitational at The Woodlands in Texas, where he finished 17th.

“That’s great that they (Leicester) did that, it just shows that it doesn’t matter how much you pay one player on one team, it doesn’t make them the best.

“So my hats off to them for winning it all because they’re like the underdogs, and that’s what I’ve always been all my life. I’m a fan of theirs now, big-time fan. God bless them for winning it all.”

For the sake of Leicester fans, it can only be hoped the comparisons between the Foxes and the underdog Daly end there.

Despite adding the 1995 Open title to his US PGA triumph, there is no disputing that Daly’s career produced only a fraction of what it could have, his prodigious long-hitting and surprisingly delicate touch around the greens wasted as a result of off-course excess that often led to embarrassing on-course behaviour.

There was the time he was given a six-month ban from the PGA Tour following his arrest for public intoxication after passing out in a restaurant, having previously been reprimanded for hitting a tee shot off the top of a beer can during a pro-am.

Then there was the time at the Australian Open — and there have been many similar incidents — where he hit seven balls into the water on the 11th hole of his first round before walking off the course. In the same event two years earlier he smashed a spectator’s camera into a tree at Royal Sydney’s ninth hole and was given a suspended fine by Golf Australia.

“I think I wasted my talent in the ‘90s, especially the late ‘90s,” Daly admitted yesterday, announcing he will also contest the Senior Open Championship at Carnoustie in July.

“All the money was coming in and I didn’t work hard enough at it. I didn’t do the right things to prepare myself to win tournaments. That’s not the case any more. My mental attitude is 10 times better now.”

Ten times better than terrible is still pretty terrible and it defies sensible explanation that Daly’s Champions Tour debut garnered so much positive publicity, or that for years he continued to receive invites to tournaments for palpably little in return.

Of course, it is entirely possible that sponsors or tournament directors were secretly hoping for another Daly meltdown and relying on the old adage that there is no such thing as bad publicity.

So in case any of them were not aware, Daly finished his Champions Tour debut by carding a triple bogey on the 71st hole and ignoring waiting reporters after his round.

Some things never change.


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