Questions for ... John Daly

Questions for … John Daly

John Daly's best finish of the year is a T24 at the Puerto Rico Open.
Hunter Martin/Getty Images

In two weeks you will start your bid to earn your 2011 Tour card at the Viking Classic in Mississippi. How many Fall Series events are you entered?
Other than the Viking, I'm in Frys.Com Open, and I haven't heard from Justin Timberlake's tournament in Las Vegas yet. Those would be the only three. But overseas I'm going to play the Hong Kong Open, two in Australia and the Dunhill Cup in Scotland.

How is your game? You made 12 of 17 cuts this season on the PGA Tour, but you didn't do anything on the weekends.
I've been playing good; I just haven't been scoring the way I like. My game is really close. It's a matter of one or two shots every round, and I would have kept my card this year.

Watching you, it seems like you have completely lost your short game. In your best years you always had great touch around the greens.
It's horrible. I'm still in the process of getting used to the new V-groove wedges. It's taken a toll on me. I'm playing the TaylorMade Penta golf ball, which to me is the softest ball on tour, which is good. I would love if TaylorMade made an even softer ball.

What's the biggest difference for you between the V and Square grooves?
With the V-grooves, it's not so much the 80-90-100-yard shots that bother me as much as the 30-35-yard shots and bunker shots. The chip shots that used to be so easy, you don't know actually what the ball is going to do. You plan on a hop and skip and now you're planning on a roll out, and every now and then you catch it really good and it spins. It's definitely made the game a lot harder for me.

Have you lost any distance with the driver?
Technology-wise I'm about the same. I can probably hit it a little further, but I'm so worried about my rib getting hurt again from my '07 injury that it's been really tough for me to go at it 100 percent like I used to. So now I tend to hit a lot more three-quarter golf shots. If it's a hard 9 or an easy 8-iron, I go with the easy 8, whereas before I always went with the hard shot. That's pretty much why I haven't had a top 10 on the PGA Tour since that injury.

Has your significant weight loss helped your game?
It's helped my stamina on the golf course. I have more energy and can focus on the game a little better. When I was overweight, after about 12 or 13 holes I got tired. The weight loss hasn't impacted my golf swing, but it may have screwed up my putting because now I don't have a nice cushion on my gut to wrest my elbows.

You won your majors, the '91 PGA and the '95 British Open, in Ryder Cup years. Those were probably your two best chances to make the team. What other years standout for you as missed opportunities?
In 2004 I was in shock that I didn't make the team. That year I had three top tens and a win in San Diego.

What's your prediction for this year's Ryder Cup in Wales?
I think it will be close. I'm going to root for the U.S., of course, but I honestly think it's going to be an unbelievable Ryder Cup. It's going to come down to the last two or three singles matches.

Why don't you just play more in Europe, where you could play a full schedule without breaking a sweat with all the letter writing to PGA Tour sponsors?
I could probably play 20 to 22 events over there but I'm still hoping to get 15 to 20 exemptions on our tour next year. I know that there is five or six that I'm definitely going to be back for next year. It just depends on how things unfold on the West Coast swing.

You played in two Nationwide Tour events this year.
I'm not scared to play the Nationwide Tour. If I don't get enough exemptions on the regular tour I'll play there. Right now it's so hard to win golf tournaments anywhere on the planet because the guys are so damn good.

You do know that if you don't play your way back on to the tour through the Fall Series, you can go to Q school. Why not go that route?
I'm a stubborn guy. I told myself that I would never ever go back to Q school. I think if I went and didn't get my card that way I would be more down. I just hope the tournament directors know that I'm working my butt off to get back to where I know I belong.

When you joined the PGA Tour full-time in '91 how many guys could really hit the ball a long way?
There were probably 10 or 12 of us. Now there are 100. The technology is beyond what I ever dreamed it would be. It's amazing that a guy who swings a club 114 mph can hit it 300 yards. It's phenomenal.

Your prodigious length off the tee certainly made you an intimidating force on the golf course. Padraig Harrington recently said in an interview that Tiger Woods still had the intimidation factor in his game despite his recent troubles. What do you see in Tiger's future?
I think that Tiger is going to have an unbelievable year in 2011. I think what he really needs to do is get with Nike and build him a driver that suits his game. Tiger can help me with 13 clubs but if I had about three hours with him on the driver I could cure him. He's so confident with his 3-wood and his irons. But with the driver he just doesn't have a set shot. The ball position is the most crucial thing in the driver. I just want to get him comfortable hitting the same shot with the driver. It's not a club that you really want to work all that much. I've always believed that on the driver you've got to have one shot with it and be able to create another shot with it. Yet he's so good with the 3-wood that if he can't hit the driver he shouldn't hit it. That's his only downfall. He's the best putter that's ever lived: The greatest middle- and long-iron player. But when it comes to the driver I don't know if he would be in the all-time top 50.

You've been criticized through the years for hitting the driver too much?
Right now I hit my driver straighter than I do my putter. People say, "Why did you hit driver there?" I say "I don't have as much confidence in the other 13 clubs."

Tiger's got a new swing instructor. You've seen your share of gurus through the years.
Growing up I wasn't too much of a believer in teachers because my swing was too long to teach and I was too stubborn. Most guys need advice on ball position and how to hit different shots. I don't care what anybody does at the top of their swing. I think the most important thing is what happens from your right hip to your left hip. The left hip is the most important. If the club is coming open the way you want to you hit a cut. If it's coming closed at impact you hit a draw. If it's coming square at impact you want to hit it straight.

Next month in Europe and the States you will be launching a new video game, John Daly's ProStroke Golf. How did you get into the video game business?
I always said if I was going to do a video game I wanted to be able to swing something. I didn't want to be sitting on the couch punching a button. You have to stand up and play the game. So we came out with the new ProStroke where you have to actually swing the controller, which is pretty cool for the golfer who can grip it like they would their golf club.

On what video consoles will the game be featured?
The PC, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Have you played the game?
I played it at the Video Game Show in L.A. in June when it was almost finished. I didn't really keep score. I was just trying to learn the game a little bit and help the designers with some of the tweaks. But I did hit a drive 396 yards. You can chip, you can putt, you can turn the clubface to hook it, you can open it up to slice it and cut it. I think people can really learn how to play golf on the game.

Where are you living now?
My golf course is in Dardanelle, Arkansas and I have a restaurant in Memphis with a partner. But I spend most of my time in Clearwater, Florida.

How is the Loudmouth clothing line doing? You're becoming known as much for your clothes as your long drives.
Loudmouth is doing great. Even on my new golf game I'm dressed in Loudmouth and players can change into different Loudmouth outfits. It's pretty neat.