In an interview published last month, PGA Tour Champions standout Kenny Perry lamented the public’s perception of the 50-and-older circuit, saying among other things that fans and the media “look at us as a freak show,” despite the tour’s high-quality golf.
If what Perry says is true, then the recently (and awkwardly) rebranded circus formerly known as the Champions Tour is about to get a new ringmaster.
John Daly, who won two major championships in his golden-mulleted youth, turns 50 late next month. He confirmed Tuesday that he will make his debut among the roundbellies at the Insperity Invitational, scheduled for May 6-8 near Houston.
That Daly, renowned for his prodigious length and lightning-in-a-bottle major triumphs at Crooked Stick and St. Andrews, apparently will live to see 50 at all might be considered surprising, given his history of self-destructive habits. But through all his boozing, gambling and divorcing, golf’s living country song has remained a fan favorite, which only can bode well for his new home tour.
Playing mostly on sponsor exemptions the past several years, Daly hasn’t done much. His last PGA Tour victory came at the 2004 Buick Invitational, and since 2005, when he lost playoffs to Vijay Singh at the Shell Houston Open and Tiger Woods at the WGC-American Express Championship, Daly has posted just three top-10 finishes on Tour.
More often Daly has made news for on-course meltdowns, starting with the legendary 18 he made on the par-5 sixth hole at Bay Hill in 1998. More recently, he made a 12 during the 2014 Valspar Championship and a 10 on the par-3 seventh hole during last year’s PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, where he hit three balls into Lake Michigan and then tossed a club into the drink.
Still, Daly’s game has shown occasional signs of life. He won a PGAs of Europe-sanctioned event in Turkey in 2014 and posted a top-10 at last year’s Puerto Rico Open. If he stays healthy, the senior circuit’s shorter courses and 54-hole, no-cut tournaments should play right into his wheelhouse.
Although Daly’s loud pants won’t do much to disavow the notion that PGA Tour Champions is a freak show, his presence among the fiftysomethings no doubt will sell tickets. And if he gets into contention, expect the fans and media to pay attention.