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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 July, 2005, 07:09 GMT 08:09 UK
Always roaring, never boring
By Matt Slater
Golf editor

Two parts Happy Gilmore, one part Mike Tyson, a twist of Alex Higgins and the zest from a Jose Mourinho press conference... John Patrick Daly is golf's most potent cocktail.

John Daly
Has anybody in the history of the game hit the ball as hard as Daly?
Stunning victories, crushing defeats, moments of high comedy, periods of low farce.

But through it all, the 39-year-old American has commanded the kind of popularity not seen on a golf course since Arnold Palmer's pomp.

No matter how many triple bogeys the self-styled Lion racks up - or how many disastrous choices he makes in his "made for TV" biopic of a personal life - Daly continues to "grip it and rip it".

And it is that all-duck-or-no-dinner approach - on and off the course - that delights his fans.

Watching Daly tee off is one of golf's most thrilling experiences - he attacks the ball as if it had just stole his lady, burned his house down and shot his dog.

This full-frontal assault sends the ball flying 300+ yards in the general direction of the hole.

Sadly, that direction can be very general, which sums up the enigma that is the two-time major winner/frequent misser of weekend cuts.

"The Wild Thing" first appeared on the golfing world's radar with a sensational win at the 1991 USPGA.

The then 25-year-old arrived at Crooked Stick as the ninth alternate, only playing in the event when Nick Price pulled out at the 11th hour.

John Daly at St Andrews in 1995
1966 Born 28 April, Carmichael, CA
1987 Turned pro after stint at University of Arkansas
1990 Wins once on Nationwide Tour, and twice in South Africa
1991 Stuns the golf world with victory at USPGA
1995 After four eventful years, claims second major, the Open at St Andrews
2001 Ends another long spell in doldrums with win in Germany
2004 Claims fifth PGA Tour win, the Buick Invitational, nine years after his fourth
Without the benefit of a practice round, and amid scenes that would seem corny in a movie, Daly claimed a three-shot victory to land his first PGA Tour win.

Having announced his presence in the most emphatic way imaginable, Daly then proceeded to take a stranglehold on the US tour's driving title - he has won 11 in total - and added further tour victories at the 1992 BC Open and 1994 BellSouth Classic.

He also established a reputation for fast living, a fiery temper and questionable dress sense.

But just when it looked as though his career would be lost in the deep rough of his gambling and alcohol addictions, Daly hit back with a second major triumph - the 1995 Open at St Andrews.

His four-shot play-off victory over Constantino Rocca was something of an anti-climax after the drama that had preceded it, but that was hardly Daly's fault and his reputation as the game's greatest showman was sealed.

What happened next should only really happen in country and western songs, of which Daly is something of an expert (he has made an album of them himself, including the classic "All my exes wear Rolexes").

For almost six years, the people's champion shed wives as quickly as he gained pounds. The only constants were his enormous drives and dodgy haircuts.

But then something seemed to click - having started the year ranked 507th in the world, he put together four good rounds and won the BMW International Open in Munich.

That a man who hates flying - he drives a huge RV between events in the US - was even playing in Europe speaks volumes of how far his stock had fallen.

John Daly at St Andrews in 1995
Even victory celebrations take on a life of their own with Daly
But that victory signalled the start of a return to something resembling form.

He still sprays the ball all over the course, but his deceptively good putting has brought him more top-10 finishes than he has been used to for over a decade.

And he has started to win again. Daly landed the Korean Open in 2003 and then won his first PGA Tour event for nine years when he claimed an emotional victory at the 2004 Buick Invitational.

Last year, in fact, was perhaps the best of this most chequered of careers. As well as the win, Daly made a career-best 17 of 22 cuts in the US.

He finished only third in the driving distance stakes, but was fifth in putting - a superb return for a man best known for the more violent aspects of the game.

His best result this season came at the Houston Open, when he lost a play-off to Vijay Singh. But he has maintained his top-50 ranking, and his personal life seems to have mellowed into more of a power ballad.

So what are the chances of Daly claiming a second St Andrews victory? Well, given the fact that he has only made the cut twice since winning in 1995, I would suggest it is unlikely.

But as every single one of his professional wins has come as something as a surprise, it really is impossible to say.

All that you can be sure of is that Daly will continue to "grip it and rip it". Where the ball will end up is anybody's guess.

As Daly said when asked if he was hitting it straight at the recent Western Open: "Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't."

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