Sure, John Daly had won a major at the 1991 PGA Championship. But did anyone really think he'd win another big one by the time 1995 rolled around? And at the Home of Golf? Consider that Daly hadn't recorded a top-10 finish in his previous 26 starts when he arrived at St. Andrews for the 1995 Open, failing to make it to the weekend in 11 of those events.
But something clicked that week at St. Andrews. Of course, it didn't hurt that the Old Course was a perfect fit for his "grip it and rip it" motto.
Following his magical week (Wait, he won with an Ultra? Old Tom Morris may have played with a better golf ball.) at the Old Course, Daly only had one top 10 in each of the next two seasons. And his only top 25 at the British Open since was a T-15 at, yep, St. Andrews in 2005. You could say his career after this victory was, well, a drag.
But the 1995 Open also had other important story lines. For instance, it was the first time Tiger Woods played in the event. Here he is, just a college kid, chilling on the Swilcan Bridge. Woods finished T-68 that week, but he would win the next two Opens at the Old Course.
And remember Michael Campbell? The guy who topped Tiger at the 2005 U.S. Open? Well, a decade before that, he should have won another major. The 54-hole leader stumbled to a final-round 76, though, to finish T-3 -- just one shot out of a playoff.
But Daly was the biggest star that week. Just look at that backswing. And look at that full-flowing mullet!
And look at that windbreaker/pullover. Vintage Daly. For four rounds, it all came together for JD and it looked like he was going to win with a six-under total. But then. . .
Constantino Rocca happened. One of the all-time clutch putts (following one of the all-time chunks under pressure) got the Italian into a playoff. Come to think of it, an Italian winning the Open actually might make the list of things less likely to happen than John Daly winning the Open.
How stunning was Rocca's shot? This was the shocked/horrified/devastated reaction of Daly and his wife, Paulette Dean, as they watched on a TV monitor.
But Daly managed to regroup and shoot 1 under in the four-hole aggregate playoff to beat Rocca by four. John Daly -- John Daly! -- was officially "the champion golfer of the year."
Daly received the claret jug and celebrated with his new wife, Paulette Dean. Four years later, she would be the second of Daly's four ex-wives. But let's focus on the positives. This day was all about Daly winning his second major. Well, and Rocca's crazy putt. Oh, and. . .
John Daly. Man of the people.
And boy, do the people love him. Lucky for them, since Daly won, he'll play in the event as a former champ until he's 60. Well, fingers crossed he will. . .
And finally, we leave you with this: John Daly walking on a beach wearing his sharpest 90s outfit with the wind blowing through that glorious mullet might be the greatest golf photo ever.