It didn't take much for John Daly to catch my attention Sunday night.
Riding down Washington Road in Augusta, I glanced at the throng gathered around the gray trailer in the Hooters parking lot. But it was my wife who saw who was inside.
"That's John Daly," she hollered. "Inside the trailer with the bright yellow shirt on. He looks like he's signing stuff."
So I made (and survived) a u-turn on Washington Road and pulled into the parking lot. Sure enough, there was Long John, toking on a cigarette and sipping from a plastic cup of Diet Coke. Forty-five dollars later, I had a signed flag and hat. But it was about more than some personalized memorabilia.
It was about meeting golf's Everyman, seeing him interact with his public -- including a guy who paid 200 bucks for a pair of golf shoes Daly once wore in the British Open, with "John" on one shoe and "Daly" on the other. (The buyer, by the way, got the shoes personalized with "To" and "Woody.")
A lot of my love of golf is embodied in John Daly. He plays the game far from the way it was probably meant to be played. His signature "Grip it and rip it" style makes for roller coaster rounds on the course and roller coaster romps off the course. He's far from the sympathetic underdog -- he's just a man battling demons on fairways, over the water and through the woods.
This year, he's winning the war. The Masters is Daly's favorite tournament, bar none. He missed last year's event -- uninvited because of his lackluster play in preceding years. This year, he's played well enough to be in the field when everyone officially tees off today.
His tournament tee time is a dream come true for golf's most colorful character. His impromptu appearance in the Hooters parking lot Sunday night is just part of the dream that comes true each year for those of us around Augusta.
For me, meeting Daly Sunday night was more than enough to placate me. I've checked another hero off my "to meet" list. And it's going to be hard to erase this smile from my face for a little while.
Meanwhile, it looks like another dream of mine is coming true. Most of the paperwork is being compiled and some wallpaper has even been picked out. I'm fast-becoming a homeowner.
Miriam and I are buying Earl and Pat Carr's old home in Belle Meade.
Mr. Earl first mentioned the house to me months ago, shortly after the first editions of The Mirror hit the streets. I wasn't ready for home-ownership then and am not wholly convinced I'm ready now -- especially after my mother and my wife started tossing around decorating ideas.
I can see my future fairly clearly now. There's a little paint here, a little wallpaper there and a whole lot of grass. Any landscaping volunteers are certainly welcome. After all, the bulk of my landscaping experience involves taking out large chunks of dirt with my golf clubs. And I'm fairly sure my wife won't count that as weed-eating.