Most of the time I pick John Daly to contend in a major tournament, it's wishful thinking.
It's impossible to predict how Daly is going to play from week to week. Handicapping golf is hard enough as it is without betting on a guy who has the habit of dunking multiple balls in water hazards, hitting the driver pretty much all the time no matter the risk, and being about as consistent as people who win the lottery.
It still makes little difference to us followers. We've been sold on Daly for so long we've followed him to hell and back countless times and we'd happily do it again just to see a glimpse of him reach his potential if only for brief moments in each passing round.
Daly himself has said he'd have about 10 majors if they only played 14 holes, and he's right. Like the rest of us, he's fell victim to one too many bad holes, bad decisions and bad circumstances - on and off the golf course.
But for a fleeting moment Thursday, Daly looked totally at peace on his way to an opening-round 68 which left him two back of the lead. He wasn't pushing himself too hard. He wasn't in his own head. He wasn't anything but the seemingly care-free Daly who won two majors and wowed the world once some two decades ago when he first burst onto the scene at Crooked Stick.
Any triumph for Daly on the course, no matter how brief or momentary, is a win for the game. Admit it. When you watch the leader-board, you always check on Tiger and Phil. But if Daly is playing, you check on him, too, no matter where he sits in the world rankings.
His fellow players do, too. Geoff Ogilvy said Thursday that following last week's Bridgestone Invitational numerous players sat and watched television in the clubhouse to Daly in contention at the opposite-field event in Reno.
Even Tiger roots for him.
His critics will say he's stubborn, pigheaded, and sometimes downright stupid. Pretty much exactly like the rest of us.
Maybe I've made excuses for Daly more than he's made for himself. And maybe it's just because I've made my own excuses and it's easier to identify with the golfer who has publicly battled his vices and been married nearly a handful of times than the silver spoon-fed country club guys who are practically born with a golf club in their hands.
We are all fallible as people, and I'd venture to say most of us are hopeless romantics until the day we die. Pretty much just like Daly.
And even though many people expect Daly to back track, how awesome would it be if he didn't? Can you imagine the roars if he won?
It'd practically be the equivalent to the Cleveland Browns winning a Super Bowl, or the Indians or Cubs winning the World Series. If Daly can come back from the places he's been, it'd be an inspiration to us all.
But even if he doesn't come full circle on the golf course, he certainly looks as if he has in his personal and family life. It looks like he's finally at peace with himself, too.
Mild Thing, I think we love you.