Valdosta Daily Times

April 29, 2013

Thank you, John Daly

The Valdosta Daily Times

-- — The South Georgia Classic golf tournament at Kinderlou Forest has typically been a big draw for golf enthusiasts, eager to see the next crop of professional players as they compete for their PGA Tour Cards on the tour. The three pro-ams are packed with amateurs eager to match their strokes against the pros, and the Classic has become as much a social event as a sporting event.

All that changed this year, when the former bad boy of golf, John Daly, didn’t make the field for a tournament in New Orleans and decided to come to Valdosta instead. Not sure how Daly felt about it, but it was certainly our good fortune.

Everything from his clothing to his club choices were scrutinized by a loyal gallery following over the four-day tournament. Despite winning the Pro-Am with his partners on Wednesday, Daly wasn’t able to replicate that success over the weekend, and didn’t fare well on the links. But his mere presence was greatly appreciated, and a huge benefit to the tournament.

Rumor has it that other courses have shunned Daly. Golf can be a sport of snobs, who look down on non-traditional golfers who didn’t grow up in a rich, country club setting.

Daly is both a self-made and self un-made man, as he shot to fame with his 1991 PGA Championship victory and his repeat victory at the 1995 British Open. Personal demons plagued his off-tour life, and Daly spiraled in and out of professional golf over the years, but he seems to have the demons well in hand these days. The former bad boy has matured into a polite, well-spoken, intelligent, reflective, and funny man, only a couple of years shy of being able to play on the PGA Seniors Tour, where his relative youth will put him easily into contention among his golfing peers.

Southerners love our bad boys, especially reformed ones. And last week, we loved having John Daly in Valdosta.

He attracted crowds, created buzz, and brought a new level of interest to the Classic.

So John, if other communities shun your style, your RV, or your past reputation, you know that you have a very loyal following here. You are welcome in Valdosta anytime.