Daly's a big boost

TIM MCKAY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:49 AM ET

Love-hate, talent-torment, grip it-rip it.

That's John Daly.

And he likely will be teeing it up at the Canadian Open once again this season on an exemption. Whether you love him or hate him, believe he's talented or tormented, or appreciate his grip-it-and-rip-it style, there's no doubt this is a boon for our national championship.

The colourful character, his own worst enemy on and off the course, is the Babe Ruth of the golf world, only in terms of his larger-than-life persona and extravagant flaws. He's loved by the masses yet raises the ire of the game's establishment from time to time.

Take the past week or two, for example, when it came to light that Daly reportedly had included a children's charity in a $100-million US lawsuit against the PGA Tour, stemming from an alleged incident at the 2007 Honda Classic.

That hardly seems to fit for the former big man, who has been, and continues to be, a strong supporter of charities. One must note that when pressed about why the children's charity was included in the lawsuit, Daly's attorney told the Palm Beach Post that "every effort was made not to bring in the charity," but was insisted upon by an insurance carrier for the course where the tournament in question was held.

This the same week that Daly, a two-time major champion apparently not fond of trying to qualify for the

U.S. Open, decided to throw his weight behind a Nationwide Tour event in his home state of Arkansas.

The Lion, as he as known if mostly by the merchandise he plugs (shamelessly at times), agreed to play in fledgling Fort Smith Classic in an attempt to help boost the dying event. It is his first even on the Nationwide Tour since 1991 and, if his drawing power on the PGA Tour is any indication, it should at least help.

And that's precisely why Daly continues to be offered exemptions, and should be.

Although it hasn't been formally announced, Daly's website says that he has committed to playing in the Canadian Open at St. George's Country Club in Toronto (July 22-25).

And, despite a hectic schedule that will see him play in the British Open the week prior, then charter back for the Canadian Open, Daly also will by part of the inaugural Loud Mouth Golf Skins Game, which, fittingly, will benefit children's charities.

For the event, Daly will play for skins against a randomly selected foursome on July 20 at Thundering Waters, the Niagara Falls golf course he designed.

Mathew Milne of J-Core Marketing, which is putting on the event, says Daly was nothing short of accommodating and supportive of the idea when approached to do it.

"I contacted (his representatives) and John responded to me directly," Milne said, speaking to the man's character.

As for the perceived lawsuit scandal, Milne says Daly's record speaks for itself.

"His dedication to children's charities and the amount of charity he has done is up there with anyone."

This year, Daly, whose business interests have ranged from a Golf Channel reality show, Being John Daly, to a newly released video game, John Daly's Prostroke Golf, also has been playing better golf than he has in some time.

He has made the cut in eight of the 11 tournaments he has started (he withdrew twice), his most since 2007, when he made nine cuts in 24 starts. He hasn't threatened, his top finish was a tie for 24th at the Puerto Rico Open, and he has made just more than $80,000.

The last time Daly played a Nationwide event, he won on the PGA Tour six months later. Now, he says his game is coming around, so who knows?

Milne is hoping Daly's popularity makes the skins game an annual event.

"With the exception of the Canadian Open, we don't really get any exposure to PGA Tour players," Milne said.

But that's what John Daly is all about. He's accessible and fans can relate to him. It's hard to cheer against the guy.


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