John Daly, for a few minutes after his PGA Championship first round, was listed among those scheduled to talk to reporters. Then he wasn’t. Daly had work to do.
Daly, as you may know, has done things with a golf ball that few men or women ever have. JD has won two major championships, the first of which gave him a lifetime exemption into the one being played this week. He’s also golf’s everyman. He’s a Diet Coke drinker. And a smoker. He’s a Hooters spokesman. And a casino player. While you may not be able to hit a 300-yard drive, his pleasures are relatable.
With that in mind, Daly was in his element form Thursday evening, after a PGA first round that saw him flirting with the top of the leaderboard for a while before signing for a two-over 72. There he was, taking a photo with a half-dozen Hooters waitresses outside the restaurant’s Tulsa location — a 15-minute drive east of the course, Google maps tells you. Then it was on to the casino — there are four in town; River Spirit Casino Resort is 10 minutes south. A salad and physio visit this was not.
“Happy to stop by and see my Tulsa @hooters family and grab me some wings on the fly,” Daly’s Instagram account said, with the man pictured outside of the joint in a St. Louis Cardinals T-shirt, Nike athletic shorts and sandals. The restaurant’s Instagram account also shared a slightly different version of the photo and alerted fans that his son, John Daly II, would be there “later” Friday.
Daly’s casino appearance was shared by the Old Row Sports Twitter account, which appeared to show the 56-year-old in the same shirt, shorts and sandals, sitting at a slot machine. Next to him was a brown paper bag, two packs of smokes, an ashtray and a Diet Coke.
Say what you will, but we’ll add this: There have been four other major championships played at Southern Hills in the Daly era — the 1994 PGA, the 2001 U.S. Open, the 2007 PGA and last year’s Senior PGA — and there have been reports of Daly casino visits at two of them. At the 2007 PGA, he told Newsday that he played the slots at Cherokee Casino and that he “didn’t play a practice round” during the week “because it was too hot.” (Temperatures that year were near 100 degrees.) At last year’s Senior PGA at Southern Hills, he was pictured again at a casino.
With a 2:25 p.m. Tulsa time tee time for Friday’s second round, is it possible Daly was just sticking to the game plan on Thursday?