As John Daly attempts another golf comeback, some are urging him to quit. His critics claim he is finished and no longer possesses the skill to tee it up.
But John Daly has lots of fans. More fans than would be expected given his checkered career. I think there are five key reasons for Daly's sizable fan base.
Daly Loves His Fans
John connects with his fans because they feel he genuinely cares about them. And there is evidence Daly listens to his fans.
His Twitter account @PGA_JohnDaly list 40,000 followers. His comments are often direct responses to fans sending him messages.
John's Twitter stream shows a large number fans expressing encouragement. His response posts show he has a true emotional connection with his followers.
They Know His Brand
A recognizable brand is key to affiliation in sports. Daly's "Grip it and Rip It" brand encapsulates his fierce attack on the golf ball.
Ryan Palmer recently won his third PGA tournament. Quick, tell me his distinctive brand.
Tell me the brand of more than two or three golfers playing on the PGA tour today. John stands out in a crowded field of PGA professionals who are indistinguishable from each other.
His Life is Often Out of Control (Just Like Theirs)
The golf world is a carefully manicured course, shimmering greens, beautiful trees and conscientious golfers meticulously practicing their game. Sounds great doesn't it.
But the real world is a great deal messier. Daly's life matches the real world more than the golf world. His personal problems, drinking difficulties, gambling, and cigarette smoking resemble the lives of many of his fans.
He Has True Talent
John emerged on the golf front page by winning the 1991 PGA Championship. He won his second golf major, the Open Championship at St. Andrews, in 1995.
Since Daly's 1991 major, only nine golf professionals have won more than one major: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Padraig Harrington, Mark O'Meara, Vijay Singh, Retief Goosen, Angel Cabrera, Lee Janzen and Ernie Els.
Daly's current golf game isn't competitive on the PGA Tour. He missed the cut at the recent Sony Open, his first major tournament of 2010.
But he is trying to return to his old form. He has lost significant weight following gastric weight-loss surgery.
He is working hard against long odds and this brings us to the fifth reason fans love John Daly.
People Love the Underdog Trying a Comeback
Daly's prospects for a successful return to pro golf are not good. He is ranked 655 in the Official World Golf Rankings.
He has a long list of talented golfers ranked above him who are also striving for success on the tour.
But people love the underdog, the long shot, the person who won't give up despite a small chance for success.
John says he feels people are drawn to him because of his attempt to learn from his long list of mistakes. He's trying to be a better golfer and a better person.
John Daly may not return to winning form, but people love to watch the underdog attempting a comeback.
And the PGA Tour needs fans who watch when Tiger Woods is on the sidelines.