2010 British Open: Rooting for John Daley Over Tiger Woods
Two scores: Six under and five under. The players with those two scores from Thursday's first round of the Open Championship at St. Andrews Golf Course are even closer than their scores would suggest.
First, lets look at the golf.
Tiger Woods has won two British Open's here. The first coming in 2000. Woods shot an astounding nineteen under par. His first British title came in the midst of the "Tiger Slam."
Woods' second open victory at St. Andrews came five years later in 2005. This on the heels of Woods swing reinvention, after going two years without a major title.
While Daly has only won two major championships. First, came the PGA Tour Championship in 1991. Four years later, his Claret Jug at St. Andrews. Daly shot six under par, en route to a playoff victory.
Both players claim St. Andrews as their favorite course.
As it should be for all who play the game.
The course however, does hold an advantage for both men.
Woods and Daly are both long hitters, yet they seem to find trouble while driving off the tee. The fairways' width at the Old Course allows for Daly and Woods to be more aggressive, something neither has distaste towards.
Then, there is their temperament.
Daly's on-course antics are no secret. Throughout his career he has been drunk or high while playing many European and PGA Tour events. Daly is also famous for walking of the course at any point during a bad hole, round or tournament.
Despite his seemingly calm demeanor, it is easy to spot the flaws in Woods composure.
Any tick of camera, or flash of a bulb, and Woods concentration is broken. While Woods' caddie, Stevie Williams, is doing most of the barking at spectators and media. He is merely serving as a mouthpiece for the things Woods wishes he could say.
Then there is the club-slamming.
Every Drive that's not 350 yards, every iron that isn't stuck on the green, or fifteen foot putt that doesn't drop has Woods growling like the tiger he truly seems to be. Woods' propensity to throw clubs, bitch, and curse is nearly as profound as his game.
Finally, it is impossible not to bring up the off-course discrepancies and vices of both of these two men. One thing they can certainly agree upon is women. Woods' harem of women has been well documented from The National Enquirer to Sports Illustrated .
Daly's indiscretions have been no less notorious.
Since 1990, Daly has gone through four marriages. He has been on both ends of domestic violence. He, like Woods will eventually deal with, has had children that have had to endure the difficulty of their parents messy divorces being in the spotlight.
Continuing the off-course issues.
Woods and Daly have struggled through gambling problems. For Daly, like alcohol, it has certainly proven to be an addiction. In multiple interviews he has admitted to having cost himself around 55 million dollars in gambling loses.
Woods' gambling history is far less documented, and can easily be left to speculation.
Vanity Fair 's expose on Woods reveals that Woods, like many contemporary athletes is an avid gambler. Given Woods income, there is an elite club to which he belongs. The two primary members of which are Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley.
Woods' loses are not as grand as Daly's, but it wouldn't be a stretch to say that Wood's biggest gambling loss (his marriage), has cost him the most in the short term and the long term.
Now, there are two things that set them apart.
Neither men are viewed by any one as a role model. The difference is one of them has not spent his entire life masquerading his life around as one.
The right answer is Daly.
Daly, like Woods, is known by numerous charities (Make-A-Wish Foundation, Boys & Girls Clubs of America). He is loved by many at his Alma matter, the University of Arkansas, and is surprisingly spoken as a genuine (albeit flawed) person by those who know him best.
Woods meanwhile has cultivated his entire image around perfection.
Whether it be golf, advertising, charity, and in interviews according to him, family. Woods' true problem shockingly does not lie with his indiscretions, but more the manner in which they manifested themselves.
No one would have begrudged Woods for indulging in his actual life style were he not married, a nearly universal pitch man for companies, and role model for African-Americans. Yet Woods thought he could play both sides without any consequences. His arrogance lies at the hear of what condemns him and vindicates Daly.
Woods is a lying, manipulative, control freak, whose dissociative behavior and isolation have made his personal persecution magnified on a greater scale.
Daly is the out-of-control, grip it and rip it, drunk party buddy with incredible talents, and pitfalls. He's the guy you'd rather go play 18 holes with. Not the insatiable and neurotic Woods.
For better or worse, he's honest.
I'd much rather root for him because of it.
Daly's three strokes off the lead going into the second round, one stroke ahead of Woods.
Whether or not Daly wins the Open nobody knows.
We don't even know if he'll make it to the weekend.
But it's going to be damn fun to watch him try.
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