CROOKED STICK - AUGUST: John Daly of the USA holds the trophy after winning the USPGA Championship at Crooked Stick in Carmel, Indiana, USA in August 1991. (photo by Stephen Munday/Getty Images)

John Daly burst onto the golf scene in 1991 to capture the 73rd PGA Championship.  The tournament took place at the Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Indiana.  Yes, the same Carmel where Craig Shemon, of the now famous Shemon and Sheppard Show, went to High School.

How even got to play in this event is an even more incredible story.  25 year old John Daly was quite arguably the most unforeseen major champion in modern history. He was the ninth alternate who only qualified after several others pulled out of the tournament.  Nick Price withdrew for the birth of his first child and Daly hired his caddy, Jeff “Squeaky” Medlin.

Daly was 3 under after the first round and tied for 8th but was only two strokes off the lead that was shared by Kenny Knox and Ian Woosnan.  The second round is where Daly made his move.  He fired a very impressive 5 under 67 to surge into the lead at 8 under leading Bruce Lietzke by one shot.

The third round on Saturday saw Daly increased his lead after shooting a 3 under 69 and was now 11 under, three shots ahead of Kenny Knox and Craig Stadler.  During the final round, Daly kept up the consistent play and fired a one under 71 to finish 12 under overall and win the tournament by 3 strokes.

There was however an additional story that unfortunately occurred at this event.

A spectator, Thomas Weaver, died after being struck by lightning during a weather delay in the first round.  John Daly however donated $30,000 to Weaver’s family for a college fund. Both daughters went on to graduate from college and one is now a doctor.

A couple of years ago I got to speak with John Daly and Fuzzy Zoeller at an event in Naples.  He was very personable with everyone and we shared a few stories and laughs.  The man has more nicknames than “Apollo Creed”.  Among them are “Wild Thing”, “Long John”, “Big John”, “JD” and “The Lion” and believe me he lives up to all of them.

He may not be Tiger Woods but John Daly is without a doubt still and always will be one of the most popular players on the tour.

 

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