A run down of those golfers who make you turn on the TV through either their genius, unpredictability or charisma
John Daly is a figure people can relate to. Or like to think that they can. He is overweight, drinks too much, gambles too much, has had a string of blonde wives and, like the hacker at the driving range, seems more interested in how far he can hit the ball than in the subtleties of shot-making.
In 1997 he became the first PGA Tour player to have a driving average of more than 300 yards over a full season.
In the US Open of 2000 he shot 14 on a par five, hitting three balls into the sea and another into someone’s back garden. In the Bay Hill Invitational two years earlier he had made 18 on a par five.
And in amongst it all he has won two Majors.
Miguel Ángel Jiménez
The Spaniard has a refreshingly relaxed attitude to life. He enjoys his success, sometimes celebrating a fine shot with a little dance, or a mime whereby he pretends his club is a sword being returned to its scabbard.
He may not look like a professional athlete, as this portly bon viveur puffs on another cigar as he walks around the course, but he takes his fitness seriously. His warm-up routine is worth watching on its own.
He is the oldest man to have won on the European Tour, having won the Open de Espana of 2014 when he was 50 years and 133 days old. He has three times broken the record for being the oldest winner on the European Tour, having also won in Hong Kong when he was 49 and 337 days and 48 and 318 days.
When asked what was the secret of his longevity as a competitor, he replied: “Good food, good wine, good cigars and some exercise.”
Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnson
Where’s The Beef? was a marketing slogan fast food chain Wendy’s. Since then it has become a phrase to question the substance of something.
It is also becoming a question for spectators at golf tournaments, for Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston is developing a cult following.
The Londoner, son of a bus driver and school dinner lady, is recognisable by his distinctive facial hair and crowds have taken to him for his seemingly every-present smile and willingness to engage with them and sign autographs.
“The more I’ve just had fun and be me, the better I’ve played,” he explains.
Sometimes Phil seems to be taking the Mick with his outrageous chips from around the green. No lie seems too tricky, no approach too hard, no pin inaccessible. Not when you can flip the ball deliberately backwards, or make it loop the loop in the air.
Okay the last one might be an exaggeration, but the first certainly isn’t.
Ian Poulter comes alive in Ryder Cup, a fist-pumping, crowd-engaging volcano of passionate determination.
Poulter is only an average golfer at the top level but his Ryder Cup record is superb — 12 wins and two half points from the 18 matches he has played.
He is a perfect example of what can be achieved by sheer willpower. He was a 4-handicap golfer when he turned pro.
Away from the Ryder Cup, he adds colour to many tournaments as, like John Daly, he is one of those to favour flamboyant golf outfits.
The American made his reputation at the Ryder Cup in 2014 in Gleneagles. Not only was he America’s top points scorer, but when he halved the 7th hole in his singles match with Henrik Stenson he put a finger to his lips to sssh the home crowd.
In that instance the Americas had found a hero, and the Europeans had found a pantomime villain.
As his next Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III reflected: “He has so much passion, so much fire. Like we say about Ian Poulter, Patrick Reed is built to play Ryder Cups.”
At the Rio Olympics Rose was definitely one of those golfers who make you turn on the TV.
He has an unconventional swing and sometimes hits it to similarly unconventional places. Many of us can relate to that.
What we can’t relate to is the winning the Masters by carving a wedge shot from out of the woods and curving it almost 90 degrees round to land on the green.
“My nickname is ‘Freak Show,’ because I can hit shots that people don’t hit,” Watson explains. And the public have always paid to watch a freak show.
A golfer being greeted with a chorus of Boos may not seem to be a popular fellow. But Thomas Weekley got the childhood nicknamed Boo from Yogi Bear’s friend Boo Boo.
His popularity with the Boo Crew stems from his everyman nature. He was a factory worker who got laid off, and admits he would often rather be hunting than golfing. He happily interacts with the crowds and sponsors.
”I enjoy the crowds. It’s not that hard to talk to them, to have fun with them. They pay my bills,” he reasons.
He provided many people’s most memorable image of the 2008 Ryder Cup when he pretended to gallop away from the tee using his driver as a hobby horse.
Tiger Woods is the literal definition of one of those golfers who make you turn on the TV. Viewing figures for tournaments in which he was playing, and in contention, dwarfed those of those where he was absent.
Take last year’s Wyndham Championship for instance. With Tiger in the field, viewing figures increased by 220% on the previous year’s Tiger-less event.
Tiger in his pomp drew people who were not so much interested in golf, but in a celebrity golfer and someone who was so dominant in his field. Up until the end of 2013, the last year in which Woods had a victory, he had won just over a quarter of all the tournaments he had teed it up in.