All hail the Wild Man of golf
SO Melbourne gets Tiger Woods. So what? Sydney got Long John Daly and, on behalf of this city of drunken misfits, I say we couldn’t be happier.
Sure, the man they call “Wild Thing” isn’t exactly sweating Tiger in the rankings or snapping up Nike contracts bigger than the GDP of African nations.
Truth be known Daly, whose financial nous could have seen him make the board of Enron, is flat broke. He was selling t-shirts out of his car at the US Masters and depends largely on the proceeds of his
psychedelic golf trouser label to pay the bills.
He hasn’t exactly set the world on fire in recent years, which is perhaps why he keeps coming back to little old Oz. But when faced with a choice between golf’s answer to John Candy and clean-living Tiger, I’ll take the big man every time.
My relationship with golf has always been, well, dysfunctional. My biggest problem with the game, apart from the slim mathematical probability of hitting a little ball with a big stick a long way in a straight line, is the obsession with protocol.
Why is it that suburban bank managers suddenly transform into the Earl of Sandwich once they slip into a pair of Niblicks? And who has time to practice before retirement?
In my world, anyone who has four hours to spare on a Saturday is either single or about to be.
The beauty of Wild Thing is that a man whose personal habits are more in keeping with the Sydney Roosters than the exquisite pot bunkers at St Andrews actually chose a game in which appearance is everything.
It’s a little disappointing that he felt the need to go under the knife to shed 40-odd kilos from his giant frame since we saw him last, but even pissheads have their vanities. We’re told he’s off the drink, but
you get the feeling that will last about as long as a coal miner’s pay cheque.
At the heart of Daly’s appeal is that he stopped trying to impress people a long time ago. The sight of him hurling that fan’s digital camera into a tree at last year’s Australian Open – after he’d been
warned not to take photos – was the beginning of Sydney’s love affair with the big unit.
He’s rude, inappropriate, garish and prepared to fork out on cosmetic surgery in place of actual exercise. Hell, the man is Sydney.
The Open organisers were praying Daly would come because they know a loose cannon who can’t play is far more likely to pull a crowd than a robot who can.
Honestly, who would you rather have round for dinner? Tiger Woods, or John Daly? Roger Federer, or John McEnroe?
On the rare occasions that Daly speaks at any length, it’s something to treasure. He has a strange philosophy that can only be found at the bottom of a Jack Daniel’s bottle, but in its own way makes perfect sense.
Fairfax papers ran an interview Daly gave to thegolfchannel.com this week discussing the stem-cell treatment he was having to overcome a rib injury.
Now Daly’s ribs are like God – or the wind. You’ve never seen them, but you trust they’re there. The big man launched into a bit of stem cell science which, to me at least, made more sense than a thousand First Reading speeches given on the subject in Canberra.
“What they do is take 50ccs of your blood, put it in a tube and spin it for 11 minutes. It gets rid of all the red cells. What’s left is just a little bit of white cells, probably just 10 to 20ccs. Those red cells just disappear for some reason. It’s really weird.
“Then they put calcium in the tube where the white cells are, they spin it again for nine minutes. They take these needles and inject me in three different spots where the cartilage is torn. These white cells
just attack where the pain is and it makes the process heal a little quicker.”
You’re unlikely to hear a more lucid dissertation on a difficult topic from a fat bloke with a popped rib. The scientific world is only now waking up to the fact that the Wild Thing could have saved Superman.
The Niblick brigade scoffs but there’s John Daly, selling t-shirts and loud trousers out of his campervan, stomping on the rules in the same way he grinds out a ciggie butt on the fairway. He rolls into NSW Golf Club at La Perouse on December 3 and we can’t wait to have him.
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