AUGUSTA – Scoring an interview with pro golfer John Daly during the 2016 Masters Tournament isn’t hard. “We’ve already scheduled some media..” his girlfriend/handler Anna Cladakis said, a bit hesitantly.
“I’m not a sports reporter,” I said, like that had any sort of significance. But it worked. “Come on, girl, ask me some questions!” Daly said, a lit cigarette bobbing from his mouth. “Want a beer?”
As the golf world well knows, Daly hasn’t actually hit the course at the Masters in years, but that hasn’t kept him away. In keeping with his colorful tradition, he’s hawking signed memorabilia once again this year out of an RV in a Hooter’s parking lot.
Mike Garner was among the patrons lining up to shop.
“We went to the same high school,” said Garner, who with Daly went to Helias High School in Jefferson City, Mo. “He was our field goal kicker and obviously he was pretty good at golf.”
Daly’s long list of career highlights span from PGA Tour Rookie of the Year in 1991 to PGA Tour Comeback Player in 2004, and has a busy schedule to look forward to. He and his fancy pants will be at the Insperity Invitational at the Woodlands Country Club next month, PGA Tour Champions announced recently:
But this week, it’s all about moving merchandise out of his mobile headquarters.
“Sales are OK,” he said. “More importantly it’s just getting to mingle with the fans and stuff. It’s cool. The greatest thing for me is when someone comes up and says, ‘My son started playing golf because of you, or I started playing golf because of you’ and all that.”
The Hooter’s on Washington Road isn’t far from the storied grounds of Augusta National, and from Camp Daly you could occasionally hear the roar of the crowd. Make no mistake: he’d rather be inside.
“My memory is being in there in 1993 when I almost won this tournament,” he said, asked if he had a favorite item on the sale table. “Yeah, I’d rather be in there playing golf, no doubt.”
Still, the Hooter’s set-up isn’t a bad Plan B.
“Management’s great here, (Atlanta-based Hooter’s of America) is great,” he said. “We’re just like family.”