Golf

With RV in tow, Daly now parked at his new home in golf – Champions Tour

John Daly signs autographs after completing the ninth hole during first round of the U.S. Senior Open on Aug. 11 at Scioto Country Club in Columbus, Ohio. Daly, a Champions Tour rookie, will make his first appearance at the Boeing Classic at TPC Snoqualmie today.
John Daly signs autographs after completing the ninth hole during first round of the U.S. Senior Open on Aug. 11 at Scioto Country Club in Columbus, Ohio. Daly, a Champions Tour rookie, will make his first appearance at the Boeing Classic at TPC Snoqualmie today. The Associated Press

Parked on a lot a couple of miles from TPC Snoqualmie Ridge lives the most offbeat man in 50-and-over professional golf.

It’s just for the week, mind you. Once the Boeing Classic finishes up on Sunday afternoon, John Daly will be back on the road driving his custom-redecorated 2007 Prevost Featherlite motor home up to Canada for the Champions Tour’s next stop — the Shaw Charity Classic.

It seems unusual for a man of Daly’s stature — two of his 20 professional victories worldwide are the 1991 PGA Championship and the 1995 British Open — to travel to tournaments in such spartan style.

“I do it the old-fashioned way,” Daly said recently.

He also plays golf in a way that draws huge crowds, which are expected starting Friday to see whether Daly can get his Champions Tour career on track.

After he turned 50 in late April, the blond-haired drive smasher made his Champions Tour debut at the Insperity Invitational in early May, tying for 17th.

But in 10 tournaments, he has not cracked the top 10. And in six of those events, he has finished with an over-par score — including his past three appearances, at the Senior British Open (8-over 296), the 3M Championship (3-over 219) and last week’s U.S. Senior Open (11-over 151, missed cut).

“Everyone wants to see him do well,” said Loren Roberts, the 2009 Boeing Classic winner. “At a tournament like this, if he were to get in the mix, especially with the fact we are on the West Coast time when more people are going to watch (on television), it would be great.

“He will get there. He is just trying to figure it out back playing again full time.”

In terms of tour golf, Daly has been a vagabond.

He lost his fully exempt status on the PGA Tour after the 2006 season. In order to get into tournaments, he has either relied on past champions’ status or needed a sponsor’s exemption.

If those options dried up, Daly occasionally played on the European Tour.

Ever hear of the Beko Classic? That was his last victory — in 2014.

Which is why Daly is so thankful he has a home on the Champions Tour. He can actually plan a schedule well in advance.

“Knowing you’ve got your plans arranged, that’s one great thing about this tour,” Daly said. “Only at a couple of the majors you have cuts, but it’s great schedule-wise, planning-wise.”

His set schedule gives his loyal followers plenty of time to book tickets in advance to watch him.

“There’s no skeletons in my closet,” Daly said. “Everybody know what John Daly’s been through, because I’ve been honest about it. I’ve told them about it, whether it’s been good or bad.”

The good has been the unusually long swing, which generates unmatched power off the tee. His drives sail long and true.

The bad has been a mixed bag: He’s battled alcohol and gambling addictions. He’s been married four times, but now has a longtime fiancée, Anna Cladakis.

And that temper has blown up at inopportune times in tournaments. Even three weeks ago at the 3M Championship, he got so frustrated, he snapped a few clubs in half.

“John beats to his own drum,” Champions Tour rookie Billy Mayfair said. “But let me tell you, there isn’t a player out here who doesn’t want to see him do well. We all love him.”

Perhaps that is as good a reason why Daly hits the road in a recreational vehicle and has plenty of down time.

His RV is 45 feet long and 14 feet wide. Purchased in 2007, he already has put nearly 200,000 miles on it.

“I love touring the country. I love driving,” Daly said. “Anna has been great — she is the night owl, so she stays up and drives if we have to get somewhere. I am more of an early riser, and will drive 12-14 hours.”

Daly said traveling in a RV is much easier than living out of a hotel.

“I’ve got my own bed, and I do not have to pack and unpack,” Daly said. “You get to cook your own food. You watch your own TV. It is 10 times better than a hotel room.”

He said the longest trip he’s ever made in an RV was in 2002. After playing in the WGC-NEC Invitational at Sahalee Country Club, he left his rig in Seattle so he could fly out to defend at the BMW International Open in Germany.

Once he flew back to Seattle, he then hopped in his RV and drove it straight to Florida for the next tournament at the Tampa Bay Classic.

“A long trip,” Daly said.

Just not as long as his winding road in golf.

12th Boeing Classic

When: Friday-Sunday.

Where: TPC Snoqualmie Ridge, Snoqualmie (7,172 yards, par 72)

Format: Field of 81 men play three rounds of stroke play. No cut.

Tee times: Friday and Saturday - 11:30-1:40 p.m. Sunday - 7:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

Defending champion: Billy Andrade.

The skinny: The conversation on the man to beat begins and ends with one golfer — Germany’s Bernhard Langer. At 58, he leads the chase for the Charles Schwab Cup, winning three times this season, including two senior major titles (Regions Tradition, Constellation Senior Players Championship). His consistency on the Champions Tour is remarkable. In his 14 appearances this season, he has 11 top-10 finishes. His 28 victories on this tour rank No. 3 all-time behind Hale Irwin (45) and Lee Trevino (29). … Three of the past five Boeing Classic champions have notched their first career Champions Tour wins here — Mark Calcavecchia (2011), John Riegger (2013) and Scott Dunlap (2014). … Fourteen golfers are making their Boeing Classic debut this week — Michael Bradley, Paul Broadhurst, Jim Carter, John Daly, Glen Day, Todd Hamilton, Lee Janzen, Brandt Jobe, Billy Mayfair, Scott McCarron, Craig Parry, Tim Petrovic, Mike Springer and Jean Van de Velde.

Tickets: Daily tickets are $25. Tournament passes are $50.

Television: Live coverage on The Golf Channel airs Saturday and Sunday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. (PDT).

Todd Milles: tmilles@thenewstribune.com

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