John Daly predicts Tiger Woods will play at Masters

Reality TV star and golfer is off to a lousy start this season

February 25, 2010|By Teddy Greenstein On golf

Just when you're ready to dismiss John Daly as a washout and a quitter, he reminds you why he remains appealing enough to merit a new reality TV series. (Or at least why the Golf Channel thinks he does.)

Daly says stuff you'd never hear from another professional athlete. Candid stuff, like his take that Tiger Woods will return to golf sooner than most believe.

"I honestly think he's not going to miss the Masters," Daly said Wednesday in a telephone interview to promote the eight-episode "Being John Daly," which debuts Tuesday. "That place is too special to him. He won his first major there and he hugged his dad there."

Daly wants Woods to return to the PGA Tour as soon as possible.

"Hopefully, he plays Bay Hill (in late March) and the Masters," he said. "And I hope he brings his wife and kids with him to show the world that they're together.

"When he starts playing again, there are going to be some hecklers; I've dealt with them. But most fans don't really care about his personal life. They just want to see him play the game of golf.

"Yeah, he did something bad for him and (wife) Elin. But he didn't drink and he's not on steroids, like he said. Nobody got hurt; I don't know if the steering wheel hit his mouth when he got banged up in the (SUV) wreck. He didn't break the law by any means. So just go on.

"We want to get him out there."

Many fans also want to see Daly thrive, but he's off to a lousy start this season. Playing on sponsors' exemptions because he made just $68,815 in six starts on tour in 2009, Daly has made one cut in four events.

He pledged to quit the game after a 79-71 at Torrey Pines - "I can't compete. I can't play like I used to," he said - but reconsidered and opened with three sub-70 rounds at last week's Mayakoba Golf Classic in Cancun, Mexico. On Sunday he shot a 10-over-par 81, the worst score of the 75 players who made the cut.

Here's Daly's odd explanation: "I was hitting a hybrid 1-iron and then on Sunday I felt I needed an extra 15-20 yards off the tee, so I hit some hooks and they went into the hazards. I needed a 3-wood, but I didn't have one. I was kind of waiting on one but customs is bad (in Mexico).

"If I could have shot a couple under (Sunday), I could have made a bunch of money and money for my (PGA Tour) card."

Daly, 43 and living in debt after four divorces, said he has two motivations for agreeing to let Golf Channel cameras track his every move.

One of them is money: "I'm not gonna lie - hell, yeah!"

He'd also like to use the show to help curb America's obesity epidemic. Daly has shed about 100 pounds after lap-band surgery and a beer-free, 1,200-1,500-calorie-per-day diet.

"We have this technology, and the insurance companies don't cover it," he said.

A Golf Channel news release likens Daly to Mickey Rourke's character in "The Wrestler."

"That's a great movie," Daly said. "But I'm gonna have a happy ending. I'm putting in too much time for it not to happen."

tgreenstein@tribune.com

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