What a John Daly Resurgence Would Mean for the PGA Tour

Joe GerrityCorrespondent IJanuary 8, 2010

SUNSHINE COAST, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 11: John Daly of the USA plays a shot on the 16th fairway during day two of the 2009 Australian PGA Championship at Hyatt Regency Resort Coolum on December 11, 2009 in Sunshine Coast, Australia.  (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

In a winter filled with allegations of a golfer cheating on his wife, avoiding the police, and then admitting and apologizing for "transgressions," one can't help but see the irony that John Daly was entirely uninvolved.

If one were a gambling man, they would certainly have picked Daly as the odds on favorite to be the prime target of any national scrutiny. After all, his near arrest for drunkenly passing out beside a Hooters is legendary among weekend warriors.

The incident led to the PGA tour suspending Daly for six months. It was speculated afterwards that Daly's future as a professional golfer may be drawing to a close, but instead, Daly made a decision to improve, both on and off the course.

After undergoing Lap-Band surgery he's lost 115 pounds less than a year and seems determined to play as full as a schedule as he can this year.

Since his performance has been less than stellar in recent years, he's not a full member of the PGA tour and must rely on his "Past Champion Status" to play, which essentially just means sponsor exemptions. Given his popularity, one would presume he could still pick and choose his schedule.

Unfortunately, his past behavior at tournaments like the Bob Hope Classic, has left him out of luck while pursuing some exemptions. Two years ago he dropped out in the fourth round, after allegedly partying the entire prior night, so it's understandable why they denied his request to play again.

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As of now he's slated to play the season opening Sony Open, the San Diego Invitational on January 25, and Pebble Beach on February 8.

The golfing world will be watching these tournaments attentively with Tiger out of the picture, as they try to make sense of the post Tiger Woods era.

So what exactly would it mean if Daly could reemerge as a force?

For one, ratings would see an instant boost. Whether or not ratings can replicate Tiger Woods' levels remains to be seen, but there is little doubt that when Daly is playing well, he's the second biggest draw in the game.

The public adores Daly because they see him as a real person. Dealing with weight gain, divorces, domestic issues, and alcohol abuse, onlookers have cast him as the working man's golfer.

His rise from poverty, to major champion, is well documented and nearly unheard of in the world of golf.

People love a comeback and John Daly is who they want to do it.

True golf fans will attend tournaments and watch on TV regardless of Tiger. In reality, it's non-golf fans that we see increasing ratings when Woods is in the field.

Because of this, even when Tiger is back, golf still suffer huge ratings drops when he skips a tournament, which he does more often than any other big name player.

A Daly comeback would increase non-golf fan interest in every tournament he played, despite Tiger's absence. Daly's non-golf fan following is second only to Woods'.

So while it wouldn't be a bigger news story than the Tiger Woods incident, a feel good story would go a long way toward restoring the otherwise pristine reputation of golf.

Tiger will almost certainly make a successful comeback at some point during the year as well, which would leave audiences everywhere drooling at the potential of a Daly versus Woods match up, if only for a round or two.

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