John Daly has endured several marriages, battled alcohol, gambling and weight problems. He’s raised children, donated generously to charity, performed and written songs and started a wine company. He’s won a couple of majors, too. But Daly is so much more than just a golfer. Golf has seemingly been the one constant in his life. Wherever the 40-year-old Daly goes, fans follow in droves. Tournament organizers followed suit. He received so many exemptions – somewhere between 25-30 – that he won’t be able to use all of them. A rough season of golf was quickly erased by the love he received from tournaments. “The sponsor’s exemptions have been going great,” Daly said. “But this whole West Coast, I was a little worried, I didn’t know what was going to happen. There’s so many great players that have come out of this (area), San Diego and L.A. and all that. L.A. was the first one that gave me one. It just makes me feel good.” Last year’s laundry list of poor performances certainly didn’t give him any warm fuzzies. He made just eight cuts in 21 starts and withdrew from five of those. “It was just brutal,” Daly said. “Nothing went right last year.” Still, Daly makes others feel good. People seem to connect with him because of his regular-guy persona. He deals with many of the things that face the fans who line his galleries. Now, people are returning the favor. Tiger Woods gave Daly an exemption to play in his Target World Challenge in December and Daly obliged. He finished last but pocketed a cool $170,000. Tournament organizers still can’t get enough of him. He asked, and he received. “John Daly has a great crowd when he comes out here, just like Fred Couples,” said Tom Pulchinski, the Nissan Open’s tournament director. “Everyone loves to watch John Daly. He had a rough year, but he’s very popular and he brings in the fans. He likes to play, and he was aggressive enough to call me very early, so we gave him an exemption. That was a very easy decision.” Pulchinski said Daly called him sometime before Christmas, so Daly received an early present. Then the exemptions flooded in. “I’ve had wonderful times at Riviera at the Nissan,” Daly said. Daly finished fourth in 2004, four shots behind champion Mike Weir. He has two other top-10 finishes and has made the cut nine of the 12 times he’s played at Riviera. Last year, he was 5-over par and missed the cut. The cigarette-smoking, Diet Coke-guzzling man can play and many admire his ability to hit the ball so long off the tee. He’s driving an average of 305.9 yards this season. But if he doesn’t play well this year, the sponsors might not be lining up with exemptions as regularly. He played with Jason Gore in a charity shootout at Pebble Beach last week. Gore and Daly shared plenty of laughs and the highlight was a chest bump after a clutch putt. Had Daly done that with Tiger Woods, he probably would’ve knocked Tiger into a green-side bunker. Daly even playfully threw his wedge into a trap when he didn’t win the closest to the pin contest. But when the master of ceremonies ushered Daly over via the microphone to chat for a bit on the green, Daly went under the ropes near and said: “I’ve got to go eat.” Fans didn’t seem to mind since the announcer joked that Daly isn’t a guy you want to mess with when he needs something to eat. He seems to have a bit of an edge. Daly’s best finish in stroke play last year was a tie for 27th at the Verizon Heritage. He’s missed three of four cuts this year (at the Buick Invitational, FBR Open and AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro Am), and the pressure is mounting. He has just 166 FedExCup points. He’s proclaimed himself healthy, but he doesn’t have an improved golf game to show for it. Pulchinski was by no means extending pity with an exemption. He believes Daly could win. “He plays well here,” Pulchinski said. “It’s not like he plays here, draws well and never makes the cut. He has a chance to play well here. If he’s playing well and is in contention, he’ll draw a good television audience. If John was to pull off a win at Riviera &” People might be talking about Daly’s golf game once again. [email protected] (818) 713-3615 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! His sports career was in jeopardy when he lost his PGA Tour card last year, earning just $192,000. Daly, who was plagued by injuries and more missed cuts than productive starts, chose not to go to qualifying school. Instead, he spent his offseason writing letters and placing phone calls in an effort to attract sponsor exemptions to keep himself on the PGA Tour. The Nissan Open was the first to jump on Daly’s bandwagon.