Bad-boy Daly’s book a walk on the wild side

CHARLOTTE (North Carolina): Typical of how he plays, John Daly holds nothing back in his new book. 

There are stories of how he lost 27kg in university by drinking a fifth of whiskey and smoking three packs of cigarettes a day. One of the longest chapters is devoted to sexual exploits with his four wives and a woman he calls “Almost Ex No. 4”. In a harrowing account, he writes about the time his father put a gun to Daly’s head in a drunken rage. 

But all anyone really needs to know about Daly is this – he named his second daughter after a rehabilitation centre. 

That would be “Sierra”, as in Sierra Tucson, the Arizona clinic where Daly spent three weeks in January 1993 after trashing his Colorado house so badly the police were called. 

Clearly, this isn’t the stock variety of US PGA Tour player autobiographies. 

“John Daly: My Life In and Out of the Rough” will be in US bookstores on Monday, and no one will mistake it for Ben Hogan’s book on the fundamentals of modern golf. 

“It’s the truth. I’m not going to sidestep anything,” Daly said on Tuesday. “It brings back memories of stupid stuff I’ve done in my life, and good stuff. It was honest.” 

And it is sure to enhance his grip-and-rip-it reputation. 

Some highlights: 

– He got disqualified from a junior event in Atlanta when officials found a bottle of whiskey in his bag; 

– Forced to lose 27kg at University of Arkansas if he wanted to play on the golf team, he once went three days without hardly any food, drinking four bottles of whiskey until he passed out in his room and had to be taken to the emergency room. 

“But you know what? My cigarettes-popcorn-whiskey diet worked,” Daly wrote. “The pounds just peeled right off. By Christmas, I’d lost 29kg. I probably ought to have written a diet book or something.” and 

– He said he has lost between US$50mil and US$60mil during 12 years of heavy gambling, and owed US$4mil to casinos until he won the 1995 British Open, which enabled him to pay off the debt. Daly says Callaway Golf took care of a US$1.7mil gambling debt when he signed an endorsement deal in 1997, after his second stint in alcohol rehab. 

The second trip to rehab was the Betty Ford Centre. For those wondering, Daly’s next child was a boy. 

Daly’s lifestyle borders on depravity. His actions lie somewhere between irrational and irresponsible. 

He has trashed hotel rooms in South Africa and Florida, and stood in the kitchen of his Colorado home breaking everything he could touch. Given handsome appearance fees to play around the world, he has rewarded tournaments by tanking rounds or getting disqualified. It is rare to see him without his gut hanging over his belt and a cigarette dangling from his lips. 

Yet he remains one of the more popular figures in golf. Perhaps people relate so well to Daly because everyone has flaws, and everyone knows about his. In an era when celebrities deny anything that might be remotely disparaging, Daly hides nothing. 

Will the book cost him any fans? 

“I hope not,” Daly said. “I might gain some.” 

The book is sure to put him in demand, and perhaps he can use the money to support his gambling habit.  

Clearly, there’s more to Daly than a few drinks, a few smokes, a few wives and more than a few tugs on the slot machine. 

He gave US$30,000 to the family of a man killed by lightning at Crooked Stick in 1991 after he won the US PGA Championship – as a rookie, when US$30,000 meant something to him. Daly met the victim’s daughters last year.  

Both had graduated from university because of his gift. 

He raises US$60,000 a year for the Boys & Girls Clubs in Arkansas, and the John Daly Make-A-Wish Foundation Tournament has raised US$5mil over the last 12 years. 

And there are times when Daly knows his priorities. 

He wrote about winning the British Open at St Andrews and facing a dilemma. Wilson and Reebok, his corporate sponsors, were on the phone with agent Bud Martin, desperate for Daly to get out to the Swilcan Bridge for a promotional picture. The sun was setting, so there was no time to spare. 

But hold on – the US president was on the phone and wanted to talk to Daly. 

“My first thought was ... the president of the United States wants to talk to me,” Daly wrote. “But then Bud pointed out that Wilson and Reebok were putting US$4mil a year in my pocket, and all Clinton was doing was taking 40 per cent away.” 

He went to the bridge. – AP 

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