Report by Rhonda Cook:
Golf bad boy John Daly wasn’t invited to play this year’s Masters Tournament so he simply parked his 45-foot RV across the street from Augusta National for the week.
Instead of a purse for playing in the tournament, the money he will take with him when he leaves Augusta will come from hawking a plethora of John Daly merchandise: hats, T-shirts, towels and club covers for $20 and bracelets and pit flags for $5. His idea of golf shorts – more like something a surfer would wear than a golfer – sell for $75.
Daly says as he signs merchandise for fans, poses for photographs or gathers $2,000 in merchandise that will go into gift bags to be given at a dinner Tuesday evening.
Want a CD of Daly and his band singing? The 11-song disc “I only Know One Way” – many of the 11 original songs – can be picked up a week before the music will be distributed.
His version of Bob Dylan’s “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” plays from the stereo in the Provost, his home on wheels. He’s wearing an Arkansas Razorbacks T-shirt and a wrist band with the words “Arkansas” printed on it.
“John, I came back to see you,” a man shouts as he gets closer to the RV parked just a few yards from Washington and Berckmans Roads.
The man, handing Daly items to autograph, announces “you’re my son’s hero.”
Girlfriend Anna Cladakis, the main Daly souvenir pusher, smiles and tells another customer “he’s out here to support his fans.” Then she leans over the table and whispers “he should be playing.”
Daly’s professional life has been controversial.
In his autobiography, also on sale at the make-shift store outside his RV, Daly writes about his trouble with gambling and alcohol.
Daly writes that he may have gambled away in 15 years as much as $50 million to $60 million. He also has boasted to drinking a fifth of Jack Daniel’s every day for a year. He was once removed from a British Airways flight for drinking too much and harassing a flight attendant. He writes that he entered several alcohol addiction programs, including the Betty Ford Clinic in California.
He has been disqualified or suspended from tournaments for boorish behavior during play.
But after the Masters ends Sunday, Daly will go to Hilton Head, S.C., where he is to play.
He will be driving the RV. “It’s home,” Daly said, moving on to the next fan.