John Daly was asked why he’s popular. His answer was very John Daly.
He dished on what Justin Thomas calls him.
And his mother coming “out of her grave.”
And social media.
And LIV Golf.
And a text to play golf with the Mannings and country singer Eric Church.
There were no cliches. At no point during his pre-tournament press conference for this week’s Shaw Charity Classic did John Daly speak of taking things one shot or round at a time. And that actually segues well into his first exchange, one of the more memorable ones of this golf week, which we present unfiltered:
Reporter: “So I hear that you really appeal to a younger generation of golfers and sports fans in general coming up. Why do you think that is?”
Daly: “No idea. I got no idea. I don’t know. I think Chad does a great job with our T-shirt companies with the sayings on it; young kids like it. I don’t know, maybe because of the beard they think I’m really Santa Claus, but Justin Thomas told me I’m Bad Santa, so that’s out the window. I have no idea.”
Reporter: “How do you explain sort of the connection, whether it’s young or old, that you’ve had with fans all these years?”
Daly: “I think because there’s really no skeletons in my closet. If I screwed up, I’ll honestly say I screwed up, and I think fans like that. I think I’m not — I’m not looking over my shoulder; are they going to know about this or that. Everybody knows everything about me on this tour — my life, my ex-wives, everything — and it’s out there so there’s not really anything to hide. I think, hopefully, it’s the honesty.”
Reporter: “And are you happy you’ve approached it that way?”
Daly: “Yeah. My mom would have come out of her grave if I didn’t.”
And there you go. Daly was asked about his popularity, he answered, and then he doubled-down on it. But the interview was just beginning. Some of it is news, some of its commentary. We’ll try to help.
John Daly on social media
Reporter: “What do you think social media’s done, because maybe 20 years ago, your profile might have been different, but now we see you driving golf balls across a freeway into football fields, stuff like that. Do you like the social media?”
Daly: “I think it’s great, I think it’s great to connect with the fans that way. Some people that don’t get to come watch you play or something like that. And plus for business, it’s great for business as well. I think it gets a little out of hand sometimes, but I think it’s great for everybody. I think it’s saved a lot of people’s lives, for one thing.”
Editor note: Saving lives? That’s bold. But here’s the video of Daly hitting over the freeway, onto a high school football field, which happened last month in Akron, Ohio.
John Daly on distance
Reporter: “Are you starting to lose some yardage? How do you sort of deal with that?”
John Daly: “You just deal with it. Like I’ve got my irons a little stronger to make up some of the difference, but I’m 56 years old. You can ask anyone — I was talking to Ernie Els; Ernie Els hits it a long way and he says he’s starting to lose some as well.
“You just kind of make the clubs, adjust the clubs to where if you can get as close to where when I was 35 — I’ll never be like it was 25. … You just kind of hope for the best and it doesn’t keep going down too, too much longer.”
Editor note: Daly, who led the PGA Tour in driving distance from 1991 to 1993, and from 1995 to 2002, still gets it around — he’s 12th on the PGA Tour Champions this year in the aforementioned category, at 292.5 per pop.
John Daly on LIV Golf
Reporter: “John, what do you think of some of the world’s top golfers leaving the PGA and joining the league in Saudi Arabia, or LIV?”
John Daly: “I think you have a family, you want to raise that family to the best of your ability. If they’re going to give that much money, hell, I would have done it. But I wish the tours could have got together and not just say, hey, we’re going to do this if you go there. You’re only going to play eight this year, go play ’em and play some of ours. Stay on our tour and play our tour. I think if we would have done that, I think it would be a lot easier.
“I think LIV’s going to help grow the game of golf in an entertainment way and even the money’s — the money, that’s what it is, that’s why the guys are leaving. I wish Jay [Monahan, PGA Tour commissioner] … and Keith [Pelley, DP World Tour commissioner] and everybody could get on the same page.
“Yeah, go try it out, you know. … I just wish they could get along because I think it could help grow the game. If it was handled a little different, I think these guys would still be playing the Tour as well.
Reporter: “Did they make you an offer?”
John Daly: “No. I’m too old, no, no. I think Phil [Mickelson] was probably about the one that was going to be the only guy over 50 that could probably get in. I think they’re probably going to go after young college kids, which would be smart. They’re really good. That way, if they don’t play too good on the LIV, they haven’t committed to the tours, so the Tour can’t really say yes or no. You can go out and apply for your Tour card, go to school, get some Korn Ferry stuff, because they’ve never been a member of it. That’s where I kind of see LIV going.”
Editor note: LIV Golf, the controversial, Saudi-backed series, has played three events. Daly, in an interview on Piers Morgan Uncensored, said he “begged” LIV Golf Commissioner Greg Norman for a spot in the upstart tour.
John Daly on playing golf with Peyton and Eli Manning and Eric Church
Reporter: “Did I see right that you were just out playing golf with the Mannings and Eric Church?”
John Daly: “Yeah. I missed the cut, and Eric texted me. He said, what are you doing tomorrow? It was 12. Probably going to be drinking. He says, come out and join us. I go, yeah, I could probably play seven or eight holes, because I’ve got to do a Q and A. I had to do a Q and A like at 12 or 1 on Saturday as part of — if I missed the cut. I played seven or eight holes with them. It was a blast.”
Editor note: Daly, after missing the cut at last month’s Open Championship at St. Andrews, played golf with the Mannings and Church the next day at Kingsbarns Golf Links. He shared the photo above over his Twitter account.