John Daly (1 Open, 1 USPGA)
Daly is known primarily for his driving distance off the tee (earning him the nickname "Long John"), his non-country club appearance and attitude, and his rough-and-tumble personal life. His two greatest on course accomplishments are his "zero to hero" victory in the 1991 PGA Championship, and his playoff victory over Costantino Rocca in the 1995 Open Championship.
According to official performance statistics kept since 1980, Daly in 1997 became the first PGA Tour player to average more than 300 yards per drive over a full season. He did so again in every year from 1999 to 2008, and he was the only player to do so until 2003.
Daly's last PGA Tour victory came in San Diego in 2004, earning him a two-year playing exemption. After 2006, Daly's career began to falter and he had trouble making cuts and staying on the PGA Tour. He was primarily earning entry through past champion status and numerous sponsor invitations.
Daly is the only man from either Europe or the United States to win two major golf championships but not participate in the Ryder Cup.
Daly has been successful in multiple businesses. He has a "Loud Mouth" line of clothing and a golf course design company. In addition, Daly has written and recorded music and released two music albums.
Daly was born in Carmichael, California. With his father, mother, older sister and older brother, he moved from California to Dardanelle, Arkansas when he was four, and he began playing golf the following year. He attended Helias High School in Jefferson City, Missouri, and was a letterman in football and golf. In golf, he was a Missouri state champion; he held and continues to hold several kicking records in football. He attended the University of Arkansas, where he was a member of the golf team. He left college before completing his degree.
Daly played in the 1986 U.S Open as an amateur and missed the cut with an opening round 88. He then turned professional in 1987, and his first pro victory came in the 1987 Missouri Open. In 1989, Daly played in several PGA Tour events including finishing T-14 at the Chattanooga Classic and making his first cut in a major finishing T-69 at the 1989 U.S Open. He won the Ben Hogan Utah Classic in 1990 and finished T-12 at the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament; he also won two South African Sunshine Tour pro events that year.
He joined the PGA Tour in 1991 and won the PGA Championship that year. This victory gained Daly a significant amount of media attention, due to the fact that Daly was the ninth and final alternate for the Championship. Just days before the tournament Nick Price dropped out since his wife Sue was about to give birth. The eight other alternates could not make it to Crooked Stick Golf Club in time for the tournament. Daly, playing just his third major, was able to have Price's caddy Jeff (Squeaky) Medlin caddy for him. A virtual unknown at the time, he parlayed this opportunity into a first-round score of 69, even though he hadn't had time to play a practice round on the difficult Crooked Stick course. He finished the tournament with scores of 69-67-69-71, giving him a three-stroke victory over Bruce Lietzke. Daly was subsequently named PGA Tour Rookie of the Year. He was also the first rookie to win a major title since Jerry Pate won the U.S. Open in 1976.
His surprise victory and powerful swing provided the impetus for a cult-like fanbase, composed of many people who had not been previously attracted to golf, and from that point onwards, Daly became one of the most popular players on Tour. He won the B.C. Open in 1992 and the BellSouth Classic in 1994. He added to his reputation as a power hitter in 1993 by becoming the first (and still the only) player to reach the green of the famous 630-yard hole 17 at Baltusrol Golf Club in two strokes.
Daly came into the 1992 PGA Tour season winning the B.C. Open with a six stroke lead, Daly had a good season in 1992 with several top 10 finishes including finishing 5th place at The International, T-2 at the Kemper Open, and T-8 at the Buick Southern Open and the Nissan Los Angeles Open. At the 1992 PGA Championship, Daly struggled as the defending champion. He finished the tournament with rounds of 76-72-79-77 and ended up finishing 82nd place.
Daly didn't have a great season in 1993. He did however finish T-3 at the Masters Tournament and it became his only top-10 finish in a major championship outside his two wins. With no PGA Tour wins in 1993, Daly did manage to win the Alfred Dunhill Cup with Fred Couples and Payne Stewart. He had five top-25 finishes and one top-10 finish out of 15 cuts.
In 1994 Daly experienced one of his worst years when he was suspended by the PGA Tour due to behavior including walking off the course during the Kapalua International and a mid-1993 incident at the Kemper Open when he was upset after scoring a 77 and threw his scorecard at the scoring tent and was disqualified. He entered alcohol rehab for three weeks somewhere around 1993–94 and he won the 1994 BellSouth Classic claiming it was his first win sober.
In 1995, Daly unexpectedly won The Open Championship in a playoff with Italian Costantino Rocca at St Andrews. As Rocca approached the final hole, he was one shot behind Daly who had already finished his round. Rocca's long drive was only yards from the green, but his second shot resulted in a fluffed chip where he forgot to follow through. Rocca sank a 60 foot (18 metre) putt on the 18th at St Andrews to make the birdie he needed to force a playoff with Daly. Daly easily defeated Rocca in the playoff finishing the four holes of the playoff at one under par, while Rocca finished three over par after hitting into the "Road Hole Bunker" and taking three shots to get out. Daly is the only eligible two-time major winner never selected to play in the Ryder Cup. This distinction is often used in quiz shows; in 2006, Scottish golfer Sam Torrance took over nine minutes to (correctly) answer this question on Britain's longest-running game show A Question of Sport.
Daly won the Buick Invitational in 2004, and he was also selected as PGA Tour Comeback Player of the Year for 2004. Daly won the golf tournament in a playoff against Luke Donald and Chris Riley. Daly started using Dunlop golf equipment before this tournament, and the Buick Invitational was his first victory in 189 events. Daly also increased his world golf ranking from 299th to a spot in the Top 50 during this time frame. Statistically he ranked 4th overall on the PGA tour for 2004. However, Daly did not win another professional tournament until December 2014, when he won the Beko Classic by one shot. The tournament, played at Gloria Golf Club in Belek, Antalya, Turkey, is sanctioned by the PGAs of Europe.
Daly entered the 2007 PGA Tour season without full exempt status for the first time since his 1991 PGA Championship victory, which carried a 10-year PGA Tour exemption. Another such exemption was earned with his 1995 Open Championship win. When Daly won the 2004 Buick Invitational, he earned a 2-year exemption, which expired at the end of 2006. Daly finished 193rd on the 2006 PGA Tour Official Money List, thereby losing his full exempt status for 2007.
Although Daly has had $10,116,306 in career earnings as of June 2, 2014, he is not among the top 50 on the PGA Tour's All-Time Career Money List, and so he must now depend heavily on sponsor invitations (PGA Tour Exemption Category 11). Some 2007 PGA Tour events extended such invitations. Outside of sponsor invitations, Daly can also play in many 2007 regular events via Exemption Category 32, "Past Champions, Team Tournament Winners and Veteran Members Beyond 150 on Money List".
As far as individual tournaments are concerned, Daly is exempt for life in the PGA Championship and AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, and up to age 60 in the British Open. In order to play in the Masters, U.S. Open, a World Golf Championship or a FedEx Cup Playoff Event, Daly would have to satisfy the particular invitational requirements of such events. Daly has not played at the Masters since 2006, and he has not made the cut there since 2002, even though Augusta National golf course was made for players with his talents.
Fans and golf columnists point to the 2005 WGC-American Express Championship as the event where John Daly's post-2006 exempt status would be determined. Tied with Tiger Woods at the end of regulation play, Daly missed a short par putt on the 2nd extra playoff hole, giving Woods the victory. Had Daly instead made the par, and then had gone on to win, he would have earned a 3-year PGA Tour exemption through 2008. Daly also made it to another playoff in the 2005 Shell Houston Open, but lost on the first extra hole to Vijay Singh.
Daly was invited to play in the Honda Classic on March 1, 2007 on a sponsor's exemption, but had to withdraw after two holes. He pulled a muscle near his shoulder blade when he tried to stop his backswing after a fan snapped a picture. In December 2008, he was suspended for six months by the PGA Tour.
After his 2008 suspension, Daly was forced to compete on the European Tour. After undergoing lap-band surgery to lose 40 pounds, he began playing much better golf, even managing to finish 2nd at the Italian Open. On May 26, 2009, Daly announced that he would return to the PGA Tour, via sponsor's exemption, for the St. Jude Classic. On July 17, Daly told The Dan Patrick Show that he had lost 80 pounds thanks to the surgery, dropping him to 205 lbs.
However, after shooting a then personal-high 88 at the Buick Open in late July 2009, he claimed to be losing confidence in his game, and his swing coach blamed the surgery for making him lose muscle along with weight, taking power away from his swing. However, Daly blamed the effects of his poor eyesight on his putting for his high golf score.
On March 14, 2014, during the second round of the Valspar Championship, Daly shot a career worst 90 which included an 8-over-par 12 on the 16th hole. His frequent failure to make cuts and high rounds have revived debates on players who frequently receive sponsor exemptions.
Daly shot a score of 68 for the first round of the 2012 PGA Championship which was played at Kiawah Island, South Carolina. Daly finished 18th place in that tournament, which was the first time Daly had finished in the top 20 in a major championship since the British Open in 2005. At 47 years of age, Daly can still hit drives as long as anybody on the PGA Tour. However, Daly continues to play more abroad vs. United States due to his limited status on the PGA Tour. In the late fall of 2014 Daly started to show some promise finishing T-29 at the Sanderson Farms Championship and quietly finishing T-10 at the Puerto Rico Open, his first top-10 finish in three years. Soon after, Daly finished T-25 at the Turkish Airlines Open, a European Tour event with a strong field. Daly won the Beko Classic on December 6, 2014, an event sanctioned by the PGAs of Europe, finishing at −15. It was Daly's first win in over 10 years. At the end of 2015, Daly tried to get back his European Tour card in Shanghai. He finished T-46 at the BMW Masters and T-50 at the Turkish Airlines Open.
Having turned 50 on April 28, 2016, Daly became eligible to play on the PGA Tour Champions. His debut was at the Insperity Invitational in May, where he finished tied for 17th. Through his first fifteen events his best finish was a tie for eleventh.
Daly has a flowing self-taught golf swing which was built for raw power and distance. Daly takes his golf club back much farther past parallel on his back swing by extreme coiling of his arms and shoulders which creates very fast club head speed on his down swing. However, Daly's golf swing has contributed to his inconsistent performance during golf tournaments since almost perfect timing is required for proper execution of such a powerful golf swing.