Last Modified: Monday, March 25, 2013 11:22 AM
BROUSSARD — If you were a golf fan Friday afternoon at the PGA’s Web.com tournament here, you basically had two options.
You could live at Le Triomphe, or you could be a sponsor of the Chitimacha Louisiana Open or otherwise shell out some serious big bucks, in which case you’d sit in the VIP grandstands and suites surrounding the 18th green and watch the groups come in.
Or, Option No. 2, you could join the frenzied masses and run around the course all day looking for John Daly.
The latter seemed to be the preferred choice of Acadiana’s golf fans.
This tournament is better than you think.
It had 18 former winners from the big tour in the field, with 38 PGA Tour wins amongst them, playing for more money in the high minors than Jack or Arnie ever dreamed of.
But this tournament had never had John Daly before. Nobody is sure why he was here off Broadway this week, but he was.
It wasn’t the south Louisiana food. Daly is allergic to seafood.
So the other 17 former PGA winners had only a couple of dozen fans spread out on the course following them, many of those stragglers asking, “Where’s Daly now?”
He wasn’t hard to find.
Just follow the crowds.
And he wasn’t hard to spot.
In a sea of white, gray, khaki, black — for the really adventurous, red or blue — Daly was absolutely the only golfer resplendent in squiggly psychedelic pink-yellow-green pants, topped by a pink shirt and a blonde mullet.
The pants looked like something you’d buy for a Barbie doll, circa 1960s. His significant other wore matching slacks while following his round from a discreet distance without really watching a shot.
Not every guy can pull off that look. But Daly must be a guy’s guy.
Following Daly, really, is more like going to a NASCAR race than a pristine golf course.
It’s the hooping-and-hollering group — “Knock ‘em out, John!” — not the “oh, a bit too much pace on that one” crowd.
Forget “managing the golf” course or “missing on the right side” or — God forbid — “taking double bogey out of the equation.”
Daly still follows the mantra written on the shoulder strap of his bag — “Grip It and Rip It.”
That bag, by the way, which in NASCAR sponsorship terms is akin to the hood of the race car, is normally the billboard home to club manufacturers or your Calvin Kleins and Tommy Hilfigers.
Daly’s bag has “Pilot Travel Centers,” splashed across it, travel centers being a fancy delicate word for truck stop.
Somehow it fits.
Just like NASCAR.
His best known sponsor is Hooters.
Daly has never hidden from his flaws, which is perhaps part of his charm and most of his fame.
People evidently identify.
And, if you’re honest, despite all the skill and precision involved in Daly’s golf‚ you’re really here secretly hoping to see some really good car wrecks.
What will it be with John Daly today? Will it warrant another fine from the tour?
Just a week ago, at the PGA Tour’s Tampa Bay Championship, Daly shot himself out of the tournament with an ugly 10 on the third hole of Friday’s cut-day round, but he kept plugging, didn’t walk off the course to incur another fine from PGA Tour officials.
But when he yanked another drive into the woods on the 12th hole, he calmly walked over to his bag, took out his Sharpie, signed the wayward driver and gave it away in mid-round to an innocent fan who happened to be standing near the tee box.
So we pick up the story at Le Triomphe’s No. 9 green, where Daly has just sent the crowd into a frenzy with a 30-foot putt for his fourth birdie in the last five holes, capping off a 4-under 32 front nine that brings him to within one shot of the lead.
It surely has tournament officials dreaming of the gate receipts for the weekend.
Nine holes later — insert sounds of skidding tires and crunching metal here — he will birdie his final hole … to miss the cut by one shot.
It was quite a pileup to run up a 41 on the back and a ticket back to Arkansas for the weekend.
“It’s kind of a shock thing,” Daly said, insisting he hit only one bad shot while going bogey/triple-bogey/double-bogey/bogey on holes 11-14.
Well, I counted two, but who’s counting. I’m going to assume he didn’t mean to chunk the short chip shot during the triple-bogey fiasco, which came just after hitting his drive in the water and just before the second of his four consecutive three-putts.
“It’s just this funk I’m in,” Daly said. “If there was just 14 holes on every course, I’d have won a lot of golf tournaments.
“I can get over triples and doubles, but when you putt as bad as I did today that makes it tough.”
He almost made it, teasing fans and hopeful tournament officials alike over the final four holes when, needing to make up two shots to stay the weekend, he had 6- to 8-foot birdie putts on all four.
Only the last one fell.
“Now he makes it,” a fan shrieked.
“It ain’t over John!” another hollered.
Yes it was.
Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org