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John Patrick Daly has been a professional golfer on the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) Tour since 1990, having stunned the golf world by winning the PGA Championship as a rookie. He owns a golf course in his hometown of Dardanelle (Yell County), and he is a member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.
John Daly was born the youngest of three children on April 28, 1966, in Carmichael, California, to Jim Daly, a construction worker on nuclear power facilities, and Lou Daly. Daly’s family moved to Dardanelle when he was five because his father took a job at Nuclear One in Russellville (Pope County), and he began playing golf soon after. The family moved several times as his father took new jobs. They first moved to Virginia, where Daly won a men’s tournament at age thirteen, then to Missouri, where he won the state high school tournament, and finally back to Dardanelle, where he graduated from high school. Daly received a half scholarship to play for the golf team at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). He played there for three years before leaving the university to become a professional golfer in 1987.
After turning professional, Daly had success in regional tournaments and a small tour in South Africa. He was the ninth alternate for the PGA championship in 1991. After a player withdrew and the other eight alternates were not able to compete, Daly arrived only two hours before the competition and was not allowed a practice round. Nonetheless, he shocked the golf world by winning the championship, and he was elevated instantly to sports stardom. His win at the 1995 British Open validated him as an elite golfer and gained him exempt status through 2005, meaning he would not have to qualify to compete on the tour in that period. He was only the fourth player since World War II to win his second major PGA competition before age thirty. Known for his “grip it and rip it” swing, he has won eleven driving distance titles, including eight consecutive titles from 1995 to 2002.
Daly did not win another PGA Tour round until the 2004 Buick Invitational—his first win after 189 tries. Daly spent much of his time during this drought earning a controversial reputation. He entered into alcohol rehabilitation centers several times, won and lost millions of dollars gambling, and went through three divorces. After four marriages, Daly has four children (Shynah Hale, Sierra Lynn, Austin, and John Patrick, Jr.). His most recent wife, Sherrie Miller, was incarcerated two years after their marriage for money laundering; they divorced in 2010.
His on-course antics while playing in PGA events include visibly shaking from alcohol withdrawals, smoking, and cracking jokes to the crowd. He released a celebrity-laden, semi-autobiographical memoir, My Life in & out of the Rough: The Truth behind All that Bull**** You Think You Know about Me (2006), and he had his own reality show, The Daly Planet. In addition, he has recorded two albums, My Life (2002) and I Only Know One Way (2010). Daly has parlayed his fame into success as an entrepreneur. He has owned a popular line of clothing and golf equipment as well as line of wines, he has designed golf courses, and he had an endorsement deal with the Hooters restaurant chain. In January 2014, he also launched his own pizza franchise. In November 2016, he was the subject of a 30 For 30 documentary on ESPN titled "Hit It Hard." That same year, he surprised the golf world by qualifying for the Champions Tour, and on May 7, 2017, he captured his first win at the Insperity Invitational.
For additional information:Cross, Beck. “Daly, the Everyman, Recognized for Elite Talent.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, February 23, 2006, 1C.
Daly, John. My Life in & out of the Rough: The Truth behind All that Bull**** You Think You Know about Me. New York: HarperSport, 2006.
John Daly. http://www.johndaly.com (accessed November 2, 2016).
Shane Barker University of Central Arkansas
Last Updated 5/8/2017
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