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top 10 feature


Mak Lok-lin rues the departure of his favourite fatty and ponders some other overweight golfing achievers


t had to happen. John Daly missed yet another cut – at Torrey Pines in January – and announced that he was done with golf. It seemed especially sad to me, as not only was I witnessing the exit of one of the few characters left in the game, I was also seeing the (considerable) back of probably the only current player fatter than I am! In an attempt at on-course trendiness I once splurged my pay packet on a shirt from Guess, and all my playing partner could say was, “200 kilos?” The only “thin” elements in my game are the chips I regularly shoot through the back of the green and I lost my chance for Hollywood fame when I failed to lose enough weight to play Jabba The Hutt in Star Wars. (Editor’s Note: It’s true, Lok-lin’s enormous; we would wide-berth him in the office if it was possible). As I chewed on my cheeseburger (a hefty two pounder with extra cheddar, of course) and chugged down a bottle of trans-fat un-health drink at the halfway house, I began to ponder about Daly and the other heavy hitters the game has seen over the years…


John Daly

Charles McLaughlin

Daly exploded onto the world golf scene in his rookie year of 1991, when he won the USPGA Championship at Crooked Stick. He had been the ninth (and last) alternate into the field and had to drive through the night from his Arkansas home in order to make his first round tee time. Without even having a practice round, Daly fired a 69 and ultimately won by three shots from Bruce Lietzke. Perhaps not surprisingly, he was named PGA Rookie of the Year. From the very start, unfortunately, Daly – aka “The Lion”, “Long John” and “Wild Thing” – became better known for what he did off the course than what he achieved on it. Battles with alcohol and drugs dogged his early career and Daly soon found himself the subject of several lawsuits regarding drunken domestic disputes. In all, Daly was divorced three times and although his weight has always been an issue, it was in the midst of the tabloid frenzy of the early nineties that he ballooned over 300 pounds. Despite all this, he miraculously managed to win a second major, the 1995 Open Championship at St Andrews, where he beat Constantino Rocca in a playoff. He has won a total of five PGA tournaments and would have contended a great deal more had he not thrown away leads with spectacular blowups – Daly seemed to be the master of mounting up double digit scores on individual holes. Throughout his trials and tribulations, he retained his reputation as a superb short game player, renowned in particular for his soft hands and touch on and around the greens. In 2008, he shot a spellbinding 62 in the final round of the UBS Hong Kong Open – missing the course record by a shot – despite only parring the final four holes. Following “Lap Band” surgery in 2009, which limits the amount of food he can consume, John started shedding the pounds and currently weights in at under 185. Unfortunately, his game seems to have gone the same way as his girth and in 2010 he announced he was quitting the tour. Watch this space.


HK Golfer・APR/MAY 2010

John Daly, seventeenth fairway, 2008 UBS Hong Kong Open, Fanling HKGOLFER.COM

HK Golfer・APR/MAY 2010



Craig Stadler

Duval used to be a poster child for golf fitness. In late 1997, after seven second place finishes, he finally got his first PGA Tour win, which he followed up with two more in less than a month. By the end of 1998, he had won four more and had started to dominate opponents – thanks in part to his intimidating physique and seemingly unfazed demeanour (remember those wraparound shades?). He soon reached the summit of the game, becoming the world’s number one ranked player, although it didn’t hurt that Tiger Woods was restructuring his swing with Butch Harmon at the time and would only win once that season. In 1999, Duval made an eagle on the final hole at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic to shoot a 59 and win the event by a single shot. It was only the third 59 ever recorded on tour and the first in the final round. By now, however, Woods was back and Duval seemed to feel that building up his strength was the best way to combat the Tiger onslaught. He soon became obsessed with bodybuilding. His final win (of 13) – and his first major – came at the 2001 Open Championship at Royal Lytham, but his game was already in decline and he hasn’t won since. He is currently on a bit of a revival, which more than one observer has put down to him quitting the workouts, getting married and gaining more than a few pounds.


Pat Hurst

A mere five foot six with her hands up, Pat Hurst won fat fans everywhere when she won a ladies’ major, the 1998 Kraft Nabisco. Voted LPGA Rookie of the Year in 1995, she has won six times on tour. However, some have remarked, perhaps unfairly, that her winning total would have been much higher had she adopted any kind of fitness regime. She had an outstanding amateur career, winning both the US Junior and US Women’s championships, but struggled to get on tour and actually gave up at one point to work in her local Nevada Bob’s golf store. She finally re-entered LPGA Qualifying in 1994, succeeding in her third attempt. The rest, as they say is history. Her record in the majors is impressive, with one win and ten top-10 finishes, and she has represented the US on five Solheim Cup teams.


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Jack Nicklaus

Everyone recognizes the all-time record major winner as a dapper figure with long, wavy blonde hair. Famed the world over as the best player – and the best-dressed (with his own clothing line) – he because the gold standard for other golf professionals. Literally so, given his “Golden Bear” nickname and brand. However, it wasn’t always thus. A s a precocious amateur and in his early days as a young pro, Jack was actually known as “Ohio Fats” and sported a spiky crew cut that did nothing to flatter his rather round figure. A magazine article in 1965 gives his weight as 210 pounds, his waist at 35 inches and his hips at 42 inches. The same article confirms t he “ Oh io Fat s ’ nickname but also adds, rather u n k i nd ly, “ Baby Beef”, “Whale Boy” a nd “ Big Bea r ”. Remarkably none of this seemed to get to Jack and he happily talked of fans cheering him on using t hese names. Needless to say, when his form d ipped duri ng a rather less successful run of form, this cheering became catcalling and Nicklaus started to slim down in the late sixties. HKGOLFER.COM


Porky Oliver

Edwart Stewart Oliver, Jr. was 25 when he burst onto the national stage in1940. His first three PGA Tour wins got him noticed, but two other factors made him a household name. The first was his appearance: only five foot nine but weighing in at 240 pounds, he was immediately nicknamed “Porky” by the press and his fellow players alike. He took it all in good humour, something that would endear him to spectators across the United States. The second factor was, well, the “Second Factor”. Oliver became famous for finishing second in every major (except the Open Championship, which he never entered). In the 1940 US Open he took it one stage further. He actually finished in a tie for first, but was subsequently disqualified (along with five other players) for starting his final round 15 minutes early.


In a great career, Oliver won eight PGA Tour events and six others worldwide (including two Philippine Opens). He played in three Ryder Cup teams and had ten top 10 major finishes (not counting his 1940 adventure). Delightfully rotund, his size didn’t stop him enlisting and serving in World War Two during his peak years.

AFP (Duval/Hurst/Stadler); (Nicklaus/Oliver)


David Duval

No prizes for guessing Craig’s favourite karaoke song: the Beatles classic, I am the Walrus. He earned the moniker because, aside from his gargantuan girth, the moody Stadler also sports wild facial hair resembling tusks. However, as with our other examples, he had the game to match his outsize persona. Not ma ny k now t hat Stad ler had a n outstanding amateur career, winning the US Amateur while still at the University of Southern California (he was an All-American every year at college). As a pro he won 13 PGA Tour events (plus seven more on other tours), but 1982 was his banner year. He won four events, including his only major – the Masters, defeating Dan Pohl in a playoff. In all, he finished in the top-20 in 27 major championships. Craig played on two Ryder Cup teams – in 1983 and 1985 – and in 2003 he won the BC Open to become the first PGA Tour winner aged over 50 in almost 30 years. Needless to say, he quickly became the leading money winner when he joined the Champions Tour. This isn’t the first time Craig has appeared in a HK Golfer Top 10. In Top 10 Rulings (see Oct-Nov 2009 issue), Stadler made it onto the list thanks to an infringement where he was deemed to have “built a stance”, kneeling down on a towel to take a shot. Stadler’s son Kevin is also a professional golfer and weighs in excess of 250 pounds, making him a definite chip off the old block. After winning the 2006 Johnnie Walker Classic in Perth, Kevin’s game stuttered a little, although he found form in 2009, just losing out to Ryan Moore in a playoff for the PGA Tour’s Wyndham Championship.

Hefty hitters (clockwise from top): Craig "The Walrus" Stadler won the Masters in 1982; Oliver finished second in the Masters, US Open and PGA and won the Philippine Open twice; Nicklaus shed the pounds in the late sixties; Hurst won the Kraft Nabisco Championship after a stellar amateur career; Duval is showing a resurgence in form of late.

HK Golfer・APR/MAY 2010




Laura Davies

Kiradech Aphibarnrat

Undoubtedly the best British female player of all time, Laura has battled to control her weight throughout her career. A staggering 250-plus pounds at her peak, she managed to shed over 75 pounds through dieting, although it would appear that not all has stayed off. Not that it matters. Her record is outstanding, with four major wins and over 20 top-10 finishes. She has played on eleven Solheim Cup teams, appearing in every event to date. Having started as a pro 25 years ago, she triumphed in New Zealand as recently as last month, which took her tally to 73 worldwide wins. It is her personality, however, that shines through. Since 2001, she has been commentating for the BBC at events – including the Open Championship – and found great success behind the microphone. She owns a racehorse, greyhounds and is a regular at the track. She is also a football fanatic and was magnificently fined for taking a portable television with her during the final round of the 1996 Evian Masters so she could watch England versus Spain in the European Championships. England won on penalties and Laura won with a 14-under-par total!


Asia’s own larger-than-life representative on this list is Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat. In 2009, in only his second year as a pro and still a teenager, he romped away with his first title when he won the Mercedes Benz Tour’s Singha Pattaya Open at Burapha Golf Club by 11 shots. That win included a jaw-dropping round of 61. Unbelievably, that wasn’t the big man’s first 61 on tour, as he accomplished the feat in his very first professional event – the Singha E San Open – where he placed sixth. Whilst looking positively skinny alongside mega-hefty compatriot Prom Meesawat, Aphibarnrat proves he’s no lightweight with some sizeable stats of his own: measuring less than five foot nine in his softspikes, the burly Thai tips the scales at over 230 pounds. Since graduating to the Asian and Japan Tours (where he ranked second in driving distance in 2009), Aphibarnrat has come close in a number of events – most recently at the European Tour’s Maybank Malaysian Open where he finished in a tie for third. Undoubtedly one of the brightest talents in all of Southeast Asia, it’s surely only a matter of time before he breaks through – in a big way!

Peter Alliss

Cruelly labelled “Phat Phil” by some of the more scurrilous members of the online golf blogging community, Phil has seen his weight swing quite dramatically during his years on tour. He had an outstanding amateur career, not only becoming the first left-hander to win the US Amateur title but he also won a PGA Tour event – the Northern Telecom Open in Tuscon – while still a student. He was a thin young thing at the time, but it’s fair to say he’s gained a significant amount of weight since. Li ke Pork y Ol iver, Ph i l wa s k now n throughout the game as the “best player to never win a major” thanks a series of near misses. Indeed, he holds the record for most second place finishes at the US Open with five. Mickelson broke his duck in 2004 when he won the first of his three majors with victory at the Masters. He would repeat his Masters win in 2006, which immediately followed a win at the US PGA at Baltusrol in 2005. That nice run of results didn’t stop him from blowing the 2006 US Open at Winged Foot however. Standing on the final tee and leading by one, the San Diegoborn Mickelson proceeded to slice his ball wildly and wound up making a double bogey to lose by a single shot to Geoff Ogilvy. Amazingly, Phil is actually right-handed, but taught himself to play left-handed by “mirroring” his father’s swing.


HK Golfer・APR/MAY 2010


AFP (Davies/Mickelson); (Alliss/Aphibarnrat)


Phil Mickelson

Ever yone k nows t he si l k y-voiced commentator for BBC and ABC, but less know that he was one of the best English golfers of all time. Son of Percy Alliss, a Ryder Cup star of his day, Peter went on to play in eight Ryder Cups himself, making the Alliss’ the first fatherson combo to do so. In all he amassed 23 tour wins, and had five top-10 finishes in the Open. In 1958 he won three events in succession, a record that has since been matched – by Nick Faldo (in 1983) and Seve Ballasteros (in 1986) – but which still stands today. Mentored by the great Henry Longhurst and now considered something of a national treasure in the UK, his oft-repeated quotes includes the classic, “He used to be fairly indecisive, but now he’s not so certain.” Peter is also renowned for his little phrases such as: “I wonder…”, “Cor blimey, O’Reilly…” and of course, “It’s a funny old game…” Although portly now, Alliss was svelte in his prime. So why is he in our top 10? Incredibly, when he was born in 1931 (in Berlin, where Percy was a club pro) Peter weighed a gargantuan 14 pounds 11 ounces, a European record at the time. Sizeable Swingers (clockwise from top): Alliss weighed a staggering 14 pounds 11 ounces at birth; Thailand's Aphibarnrat is making a big impact on the Asian Tour; Davies is undoubtedly the best British female golfer of all time; Mickelson's weight has fluctuated significantly in recent years.


HK Golfer・APR/MAY 2010



HKGOLFER.COM HK GOLFER・APR/MAY 2010 55 top 10 feature John Daly John Daly, seventeenth fairway, 2008 UBS Hong Kong Open, Fanling 5 HK GOLFER...