John Daly is not a hard man to spot.
Known as much for his booming drives as he is for his bright blond locks and loud pants, the five-time PGA Tour and two-time major championship winner didn’t disappoint during a recent swing through the Myrtle Beach area.
In town to promote his John Daly Cocktail brand during last week’s Myrtle Beach World Amateur Handicap Championship, the 49-year-old pro golfer signed golf balls, sang on stage and shot a game of billiards, much to the delight of fans.
Daly bracketed some time Wednesday to speak with the media to discuss the collapsed lung he recently suffered in a golf outing in Mississippi, his eagerness to compete the Champions Tour and the imminent closure of Wicked Stick Golf Links, the only John Daly signature course along the Grand Strand, which is set to close Sept. 15.
Here’s a summation of what Daly had to say while speaking with MyHorryNews.com.
Q: What brought you to Myrtle Beach?
Daly: “We thought it [the World Am] was a great concept. With 3,500 golfers and 60 different golf courses, it’s pretty phenomenal. We’re here to promote the brand. Everyone’s having a wonderful time.”
Q: You’ve been to Myrtle Beach for Monday After the Masters. What is it about Myrtle Beach that makes it the golf capital?
Daly: “That’s what it is. Everywhere you turn, there’s a golf course. It’s one of the premier golf capitals of the world when you think about. There’s not too many places like this. If you’re looking to play on a lot of golf courses, Myrtle Beach is a great place to be. That’s a cool thing if you live here.”
Q. Unfortunately one of your signature courses [Wicked Stick Golf Links] is closing down in a couple of weeks. What’s your take on that?
Daly: “Yeah it’s a fun golf course, it’s a great area to have a golf course. It’s kind of weird to not have my name on it anymore. But I don’t even know whoever buys it, if they will keep it as a golf course, probably not. I hear it’s going to be condos or a mall. There’s nothing I can do about it. I know a lot of people I’ve talked to here say they’re going to miss it. The staff there was always very nice and treated people very good. It’s going to be missed.”
Q. How many times would you say you played out there?
Daly: “Twenty, 30 maybe?”
Q. Really? When was the last time?
Daly: “I think me and [Hootie & the Blowfish guitarist] Mark Bryan, we did a thing out there probably two or three years ago. We had a little tournament out there. It might have been three or four years ago.”
Q. Back to the World Am, what is it about this event that makes it so fun?
Daly: “It’s just a bunch of guys and ladies who just love golf. It’s a hell of a party that’s been going on since Monday. There’s everybody here. The drinks, the clothes, it’s kind of cool. There’s probably more putters here [in the Myrtle Beach Convention Center] than at most manufacturers.”
Q. Next year you’ll play on the Champions Tour. Is that right?
Daly: “Next year in April, the end of April.”
Q. Is it for you more fun, or serious competition like it is for Bernhard Langer?
Daly: “Those guys, they beat me when I was out here [on the PGA Tour]. They’re great players. I don’t know if the courses are going to be a little shorter, but those guys can play. It’s not easy to win. It’s going to be refreshing to see some of the guys I haven’t seen in a long time who took me under their wing in the late ‘80s and ‘90s, guys like Fuzzy [Zoeller], Stads [Craig Stadler], [Ben] Crenshaw and all those guys who’ve been really, really good to me. It’ll be cool playing some practice rounds with them.”
Q. But is it more important to have fun next year or win tournaments?
Daly: “We’re still competitive. The adrenaline still goes and we want to win. That’s what you want to do. There’s nothing greater than winning.”
Q. What’s your take on the modern golfer that you see out there compared to when you were leading the Tour in driving? The Jason Days, the Rory McIlroys and the Dustin Johnsons. These guys are bombing it now too. What’s your take on the modern player and where golf is today?
Daly: “It’s a long ball tour. Luckily I can still keep it up with guys like Jason Day. I haven’t been able to chip and putt like he has lately. I think the technology has brought everyone more equal. A shorter hitter becomes longer because of technology, but that’s all right. I just think the ball is a little hard, you don’t spin it as much. I like to spin it a little more. The game to me looks like it’s in a pretty good place. Jason Day is playing phenomenal and Jordan Spieth is having a hell of a year. And you can’t count Zach Johnson out either in the Fed Ex Cup.”
Q. How important is athletics today for the player? Guys like Rory or Dustin Johnson don’t look like golfers.
Daly: “Yeah they’re all in the gym and I can’t smoke in the gym [grins]. I’m not a gym guy.”
Q. Speaking of health, how’s the rib holding up and what made you honor your commitment to come here? A lot of guys would say that they’re not coming and stay home. [Editor’s Note: Daly’s collapsed lung stemmed, in part, from a lingering cracked rib injury].
Daly: “Luckily my vital signs are fine after it all happened. When I was in the hospital, I didn’t want to stay. I got out and told them I’d be here tomorrow. Luckily I got good sleep and didn’t play much. I hit a couple of one-handed shots, maybe a couple of full swings.”
Q: There are pictures floating around on social media of you singing. What’s that all about?
Daly: “Yeah, we went to a place that was carrying my drink. I went with Mark Bryan and tried to see if I could even sing. Not very good, but they said I did OK. There are notes I can’t quite hit yet. It’s like the doctor said, you’ve got to get back on the horse. You can’t just quit your life because of this. It’s something I’ll have to deal with the rest of my life because it is a fractured rib. They don’t go away.”