The PGA Tour as a matter of policy doesn’t publicize its disciplinary actions, but John Daly’s discipline file now has become part of the public record as a result of a lawsuit he initiated. The big galoot’s discipline file apparently runs to 465 pages covering eighteen years of misdeeds. He’s been fined $100,000 , suspended five times, place on probation six times, cited for “conduct unbecoming” eleven times, and tagged 21 times for failing to give his best effort. He’s been investigated for allegedly attempting to run down an ATF agent.
I find it interesting that, in spite of all his failings, Daly remains a fan favorite, while Tiger takes a beating for personal failings. At least 21 times, Daly has quit on the fans. No one would ever accuse Tiger of that—he’s the guy who won a US Open on a broken leg. I’m absolutely Tiger has been fined for bad language, throwing clubs and generally bad behavior, but I’m equally certain that (current troubles not withstanding), that Woody’s never given the Tour a reason to suspend or put him on probation.
So why do people love Daly, but scoff at Tiger? The difference, I think, is in the honesty. Daily is refreshingly, brutally honest about his own failings. He laughs at them, sings about them (All My Exes Wear Rolexes), and exposes himself on television for all to see through his reality shows. When Tiger’s failings—long kept hidden from view—are finally exposed, he goes into hiding, stages a controlled media event, lashes out at reporters and basically tells people that he’s sorry, but it’s none of their business. (He’s correct about this, but that’s not what people want to hear).
Daly doesn’t pretend to be someone he’s not. Tiger has. Daly won’t shut up. In his career, I doubt if Tiger has uttered ten unscripted sentences in public. Daly is “real,” and accessible to the fans. Tiger is an otherworldly Golf God, untouchable and unattainable. Big John has fans who like him, for all his faults. Tiger has fans because we admire his skills.
So John Daly is liked in a way that I don’t think Tiger ever will be. I think we see ourselves in John Daly, either in a “he’s just like me” or in a “there I go but for the grace of God” manner. Tiger, with his aloof manner, creates a wide gulf between himself and the public.
Mike Bianchi, in the Orlando Sentinal, chalks up the gulf to racism. If Daly were an NBA Athlete, Bianchi argues, he would be an outcast. But Bianchi’‘s wrong on this. There are plenty of NBA fan favorites with an antisocial background—Kobe? Charles Barkley, with his DUIs? Allen Iverson? Need I go on?
What Bianchi is missing is that these NBA stars remain popular because they’ve never made any real effort to hide their behavior. Indeed, in some cases, it seems to elevate their “cred.”
Just like Daly.