It's the kind of news that cuts across sporting boundaries. A bulletin guaranteed to provoke sadness and sympathy far beyond the buttoned-down world of members’ lounges and captain’s fourballs.
John Daly has spent the best part of three decades entertaining the public — golf fans and philistines alike — and upsetting the stuffed shirts who think they own the game. Just by being himself, mainly.
Colourful. That’s the term most often used to describe Daly. Larger than life, too.
John Daly (above) has spent the best part of three decades entertaining the public
Which is why Friday’s news, the 54-year-old revealing that he had been diagnosed with bladder cancer, will have felt like such a hammer blow to so many.
Because, while the ‘Wild Thing’ has undoubtedly conducted his life in an inherently risky style, he has always seemed kind of indestructible.
No, that doesn’t make sense. But since when did concepts such as sense and logic ever apply to a guy who approached the biggest events as if he was on a stag-do golfing trip with his buddies?
The drinking (since replaced by a mild Diet Coke addiction), the smoking, the junk food, the gambling, the divorces, the top bombing, taking a grip and letting it rip… he’s been going full tilt since even before his Cinderella/Caddyshack triumph at the 1991 US PGA Championship from a starting position as ninth alternate.
The American also showed himself to a be a pretty good guitarist and half-decent singer
Twenty-five years on from an even sweeter win, Daly conquering the Old Course to win the 1995 Open in a play-off with Costantino Rocca, he’s still one of the most recognisable figures in golf.
And, no, that’s not all down to the natty line in high-vis trousers he’s been flogging.
This is a guy who used The Open going to Merseyside as an excuse not merely to make a pilgrimage to The Cavern, but to play a set on stage at a club where The Beatles first cut their teeth.
He actually showed himself to a be a pretty good guitarist and half-decent singer, despite his choice of mainly Bob Dylan numbers, during that bizarre late-afternoon matinee performance back in 2006. A player who eschewed the modern athletes’ tendency too refuel with bananas and peanut butter bars, Daly has been known to wolf down a McDonald’s between shots during a competitive round.
Every year at The Open, when fit and ready to play, he has been capable of filling the slowest pre-tournament day or enlivening a weather delay.
Daly was diagnosed with the cancer during an appointment to look for kidney stones
Anyone who spoke to him back on one Open Monday at St Andrews in 2005 will remember his explanation for not joining virtually every other surviving past winner at the traditional Champions’ Dinner, the Californian using the American term for a dress jacket as he declared: ‘You won’t get a coat and tie on this fat boy!’
Joking aside, and