After writing about the tragic ways players spend all their money, John Daly’s story seems like the only reasonable way to follow that up. He is far from his glory days of smashing 390 yard drives, and going for the green in one on par fours. Yesterday he shot an 88 in the Buick Open, and admitted that he doesn’t believe he can win anymore. He’s lost 80 pounds since his lap-band surgery about four months ago, and also hasn’t been sleeping or eating a normal diet. It’s sad to see Daley losing his confidence, as he has had a Happy Gilmore like affect on the PGA tour and has been one of the funniest golfers to follow throughout my lifetime. If this is the end of his career, I’d like to thank him for everything he brought to the game, and the many lessons he taught us on how not to do things off the course.
Daly became a hero after winning the 1991 PGA Championship, and was highly celebrated on the tour for his driving distance. He sported a mullet, and had an attitude that was rarely seen in golf club houses’. It was refreshing to see a player that seemed to be the typical American with a bag full of problems like most of us. Nothing is more American than the way he could put down Jack Daniels, cocaine, and Budweiser! He once told the media that when he was 23 years old he drank a fifth of whiskey a day for that entire year. He was continually in and out of rehab for his alcoholism, and was married and divorced four times since he’s been on tour (more on the ex’s later).
He’s a smoker and gambler as well. He once said that he doesn’t lift weights because they won’t let him smoke in the gym. Like many competitive athletes there is nothing better than winning, and that nearly always led John to some gambling troubles throughout his career. He estimated that he’s gambled away $50 to $60 million over the past 15 or so years. He once lost his $1.5 million winnings from the WCG-American Express tournament by going to Vegas and playing on a $5,000 slot machine. With all these ups and downs we have rooted for him to pull through and give us another show or another comeback from whatever had plagued him.
His personal life was never hidden, and his struggles finding the “one” have been well documented. In the haziness of an alcoholic it’s tough to make a lot of smart conscious choices, and it seems like two of his four wives weren’t exactly healthy relationships. His second wife filed a lawsuit that he beat her. The charges were later dropped, and so was the marriage especially after he found out that she was ten years older than she had claimed. His fourth wife Sherrie seemed pretty sane when she attacked him with a steak knife. He showed up to the tournament the next day nice and scratched up. She plead guilty and served 5 months in prison.
It looks like the hay days may be over for JD, as he somehow doesn’t have the confidence in his abilities anymore. His lap band shrunken belly has made him realize how depressing life can be. In an alcoholic blur most things seem doable, but with his limited stomach space, I don’t think he can drown out those doubts like he use to. It’s all finally spilled over to the golf course, and he’s letting those bad holes break him down more than they ever had. He use to be able to shake them off, as he’s had plenty of triple bogeys in his day. It’s even more of a shame that he was playing very well over the last few months over in Europe as he was getting use to the slimmer version of himself, but it now looks like he just wasn’t meant to be slim. It’s a sad day for golf to lose one of the best story creators of all time! In 2008, Butch Harmon, Daly’s swing coach at the time, was quoted saying “the most important thing in (Daly’s) life is getting drunk”. You know what, based on his resume I’d have to agree, but can you blame him? I can’t, JD has had to deal with a lot over his career that would make a lot lesser of a man drink! Besides it’s probably what gave us some of that extra excitement when we watch him.