“I don’t think I’ve ever walked into the gym – they won’t let me smoke there.”
It’s quotes like these that make it easy to see why John Daly has become a golfing cult.
Golf can often come across as a snobby, elitist sport, so when characters like the blonde bomber have shattered perceptions, it’s inevitable that notoriety will follow.
From chain smoking on the fairways, to gourmet beers, gambling and eccentric outfits, there are plenty of reasons to love the two-time major winner.
The fact that he even won a major in the first place defied the odds, as he burst onto the scene in 1991 to win the PGA Championship.
The University of Arkansas rookie, then 25, wasn’t even supposed to play that year. He was ninth alternate and only came on when Nick Price retired on the eve of the first round.
Daly drove seven hours from Memphis to Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Indiana and had to play without even a practice round.
He went from an unknown rookie to an overnight superstar and scooped up $230,000 in prize money – a handsome amount for someone who came from such humble beginnings.
But without fanfare, he wrote a check for $30,000 to the family of a man who was killed on the course that week after being struck by lightning. It’s gestures like that that made him a legend.
Daly was known for his ferocious power and became the first player on the PGA Tour to average more than 300 yards from the tee.
The British public saw him up close when he won the 1995 Open at St Andrews, beating Constantino Rocca in a play-off.
Winning two majors put him on the same footing as Greg Norman and Sandy Lyle, but his later career was marred by wild inconsistency. Amateur golfers will know his pain.
He once hit six golf balls into the water in the 1998 Bay Hill Invitational in a last-round collapse.
Daly was, and still remains, a larger-than-life figure, who certainly had fun over the years and caught up with him many times.
His trainer Butch Harmon quit in 2008 after saying “the most important thing in (Daly’s) life is to get drunk” and he was once arrested in front of a Hooters for drunkenness.
The 56-year-old has previously opened up about his drinking problems due to his abusive father.
His weight has always been a constant problem and he even underwent gastric banding surgery in 2009 in a bid to get the problem under control.
He once said, “This fitness thing is overdone. What am I going to do on a treadmill – smoke a cigarette and drink a diet coke? »
You can also add the game to one of its many vices. It is estimated that he has lost around $50m (£40m) to $60m (£48m) over the years, once losing $1.5m (£1.2m) pounds sterling) in a single month.
Daly has always been considered an underdog in the world of golf and he embraces that status. One of his many hilarious traditions has been selling merchandise at the Hooters restaurant outside The Masters in Augusta every year since 1997.
He’ll be on the court again for the 2022 PGA Championship as a previous winner and he’s sure to draw a big crowd.
The tournament is back in Southern Hills, where Tiger Woods won in 2007, and Woods dropped a brilliant story in the buildup that summed up Daly.
“It was obviously a very different golf course. It wasn’t cold that week,” Woods said.
“I remember playing behind JD [John Daly] the first day, which was awesome. It was, what, 109 [degrees] I think the first day? And I asked JD how much water he drank there, he said, ‘No, I drank 13 Diet Cokes.’ »
Daly’s days as a serious contender on the PGA Tour are long gone, but watch out for his son, John Daly II, who is a chip off the old block.