ORLANDO – Little John Daly dresses garishly like his dad and can summon power easily like the old man. But the teenager isn’t as vocal as the two-time major winner.
That’s OK, because his clubs are doing the talking.
The 15-year-old had an impressive showing with his dad, John Daly, at this year’s PNC Father/Son Challenge at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club. The duo led after the first round and finished T-2. The Dalys had finished T-9 at the event in 2016 and 2017.
In the aftermath, Dad happily gushed over his son’s talent.
“He’s so gifted with his hands around the greens, the way he putts,” the elder Daly said. “If you’re a great putter, you can score. Little John is a great ballstriker and great putter, so time will tell (about his potential).
“He was great last year and 10 times better this year. You can see the work he’s putting in and it shows in the tournaments. … He has all the tools and the dad to back him, so it’s up to him.”
Retief Goosen, who played with the Daly duo in Saturday’s opening round alongside his son Leo, was impressed, noting that Little John drove the ball extremely well.
Little John is just a sophomore at Montverde (Fla.) Academy and already has many letters from college coaches. The teenager wants to go to Arkansas (just like dad), but any decision is a long way off with his graduation coming in 2021.
When asked whether he could see a path to playing pro golf someday, Little John replied humbly, “Hopefully.”
He already hits his driver in the 270-yard range with a powerful and more compact swing than his dad’s. Little John is also quickly gaining on his father, a famously long-hitter.
“He hits it a lot (farther) now,” dad said. “He’s about one club, a half a club short of me now. Last year, he was still two clubs short of me. So next year he’s going to be bombing it. He’ll probably be hitting it past me next year.”
Results matter most.
Little John noted he’s only won one tournament in the last year. But it was a dramatic one, as he drained a lengthy birdie putt in a five-man playoff to capture last December’s IJGA Invitational at Harbour Town on the International Junior Golf Tour.
“They moved him out of the 14-15 bracket,” the father said. “What he didn’t tell you because he’s pretty humble is that he’s playing against the 16- to 18-year-olds. He’s been finishing top-5, top-10 every tournament against kids that are older than him.”
Little John currently goes to Bishops Gate Golf Academy. He’s generally done with classes at Montverde by noon, which means he can be out playing golf by 12:30 p.m. on weekdays.
His work ethic is noteworthy.
“He loves to practice a lot more than I did,” John Daly said. “He’s dedicated to it.”
Little John is growing up fast. The golf world might want to prepare itself for another dose of Daly. Gwk