Happy 50th birthday, John Daly, and thanks for these memories – ESPN

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You never hear the words “John Daly” and “renaissance man” uttered in the same sentence. But Daly, who celebrates his 50th birthday Thursday, has packed a surprising variety of accomplishments into his 25 years on the PGA Tour. Many fans like Daly because he hits the ball an astonishingly long way and doesn’t sugarcoat who he is to conform to golf’s country club norms. Beyond that? How many other PGA Tour stars can say they’ve won two majors, written a book, released two music albums, starred in their own reality show, issued wine on their own label and had lap-band surgery that did, didn’t, did, didn’t work? Zero — that’s how many.

In honor of Daly confirming that he intends to play on the PGA Tour Champions, which he is eligible to join now that he’s 50, we look back at 10 of the most outrageous and entertaining things from his fascinating career and life:

1. A legend arrives — with a mullet

Daly taught himself to play golf as a kid, never won a college tournament before dropping out of the University of Arkansas and constantly resisted coaches who’d wanted him to change this remarkably powerful swing by the time he drove all night from Memphis, Tennessee, to Carmel, Indiana, on the off chance he might get into the 1991 PGA Championship as the ninth alternate. A spot did open up when Nick Price withdrew to be with his wife, who was about to have their first baby. Using Price’s caddy, Daly shot a 69 in the opening round at Crooked Stick despite never having seen the course. The initial reaction: Who’s the guy with the mullet? He went on to shock the golf world by shooting 12-under 276 and winning his first major in his first try.

“This is like a miracle,” Daly said.

2. To reach the unreachable green

Daly’s grip-it-and-rip-it style and 300-plus-yard drives have always been a huge part of his fame. But it also seems to leave him a little conflicted: Does he like being known as the man who smashes the ball farther than anyone else, or does padding his career total of five PGA Tour wins come first? When Daly arrived at the 1993 U.S. Open at Baltusrol, he was keenly aware no golfer had ever reached the green of the 630-yard, uphill 17th hole in two shots. “That’s the only goal I had this week,” Daly told the New York Times after the second round, in which he smoked a 325-yard tee shot, then pulled a 1-iron from his bag and drilled a shot that bounced past the cup before coming to rest on the green. Mission accomplished. “I told my caddy, Greg Rita, ‘We may not play good, but at least we’ll make history,’ ” Daly said.

3. Outlaw country

“All My Ex’s Wear Rolexes” is the classic track on Daly’s first country music album, “My Life,” which came out in 2002 and included guest vocals by pals Willie Nelson, Darius Rucker and Johnny Lee. In 2010, Daly dropped his second album, “I Only Know One Way.” He also has recorded with a former pro-am playing partner Kid Rock. One of Daly’s songs, “Hit it Hard,” moved an online reviewer to admit he actually kinda sorta liked Daly’s singing because, “He’s a little country. He’s a little rock.” With lyrics like this — “I hit it hard, man/So far, man/No laying up, no holding back/Ain’t afraid of nothin’, it’s a natural fact!” — you know you want to hear it.

Happy 50th birthday, John Daly, and thanks for these memories – ESPN

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