Q: Would you name John Daly to the Ryder Cup team?
A: I would love to see John qualify for the team. Rather than talking about picks, I’d say, knowing John the way I do, and knowing how much talent he has, that he has plenty of ability to make the team on his own merits. And I know that it would mean a great deal to him to do that. I think he would be a huge asset to the team.
Q: So if he gets close…
A: So if he does get close, he’ll be like anybody else who gets close—very strongly considered. I’ve known John since 1987 or ’88. We’ve always gotten along well and we’ve traveled the same tours together. So I would like for his sake to see him play well and make the team.
Q: We’ve received loads of letters in support of the big fella. Will that affect your decision?
A: It’s not going to influence my decision. The Ryder Cup team is not a popularity contest, but the support for Daly has reinforced what I already know about his appeal. He’s just a normal, everyday kind of guy who wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s made very public mistakes, but he’s got a heart as big as the state of Arkansas.
Q: Let’s say you were a popularly elected captain, and not just selected by the PGA of America. Would you feel more beholden to public opinion?
A: No. I think you’ve got to do what you think is best. We want the 12 best guys on the team no matter who they are. There’s no question that John’s got a lot of good things going for him.
Q: Like what?
A: His length. The crowd factor. His appeal is an asset.
Q: Even in Ireland?
A: He’s so popular that anywhere he goes he brings the crowd into it that much more, and that’s something you’ve got to consider.
Q: Would it make any difference if 500,000 people wrote letters saying, “Please put John on the team”?
A: To be frank, I don’t need 500,000 letters to know how popular he is. It’s not just about talent, it’s what else does he bring to the team—and he brings a huge amount of enthusiasm and a huge fan base. Ryder Cups are different—the fans already are very vocal. But he brings an element of rock-star appeal
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