Daly has relapse, checks into rehab Latest drinking episode prompts move by golfer

TPC notebook

March 31, 1997|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- John Daly's battle with alcoholism has taken a turn for the worse.

The mercurial Daly withdrew from The Players Championship after one round. His excuse was a sore hip, but that was apparently just a front for the erratic behavior that has hampered his career. Daly has checked into the Betty Ford Clinic in Palm Springs, Calif.

"As part of my ongoing battle to overcome alcoholism, I have decided to immediately enter the Betty Ford Alcohol Rehabilitation Program," Daly said in a statement released by the PGA. "In August of 1996, I suffered a setback in dealing with my disease. Until that time, I felt I had won the battle alone by simply stopping the act of drinking.

"I've come to realize this terrible disease is much tougher than I thought and have decided with the support of my family and friends to let others help me. I apologize to others who struggle with me in fighting this disease. I am going to do my best, and hopefully we will prevail together."

Daly acknowledged his drinking problem in Dec. 1992, and entered a rehabilitation center in Tucson, Ariz. A month later, he was back on the tour, but he was suspended late in 1993 following his second disqualification of the year.

The 1994 Bell South was supposedly Daly's first sober win, and his biggest triumph came at the British Open in 1995. At the Kemper Open last May, he talked of being a role model for those with abuse problems, but by August, he was drinking again.

After he shot a 76 in the first round Thursday, Daly was reportedly seen at Sloppy Joe's, a Jacksonville Beach bar. He sang a song with the house band.

John Morris, PGA vice president of communications, said that numerous reports Daly was partying with members of the band Hootie and the Blowfish apparently aren't true because the group is touring Australia.

Police confirmed that there was a disturbance at the Marriott at Sawgrass early the following morning involving Daly over the availability of his room and that Daly was hospitalized after he complained of chest pains. No charges were filed.

Daly had only one top 10 finish last year, when he was 121st in earnings. He began this season with a seventh at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, but his best finish in six events since was a tie for 27th.

"I wish him the best," Brad Faxon said. "I've got a lot of people in my life in the same position."

Swings on 17

Fred Couples and Davis Love III had radically different experiences at No. 17, the famed island par-3.

Couples was unable to defend his championship, but he did get the week's loudest crowd reaction with a hole-in-one from 138 yards with a 9-iron. Couples began the day even, but the ace allowed him to finish at 3-under 69, 3-under for the tournament.

Love, meanwhile, was disqualified because of a scorecard error.

When he touched his ball during a practice putting swing at 17, and neglected to replace it in its original position. He gave himself a one-stroke penalty, but the penalty for playing from the wrong place is two strokes. Love would have tied for seventh without the scorecard gaffe, which cost him $91,000.

Miscellaneous

Nick Faldo showed playing partner Tiger Woods a thing or two on the front nine, when he had four birdies, but he wasted all of that work on the back, when he double-bogeyed No. 13, and bogeyed 14 and 16. He shot 72 to finish at even par, while !B Woods' 73 dropped him to a 1-over finish. "He's one of the greatest players in the world," Woods said. "You learn so much every time you play with him." Former Maryland coach Fred Funk closed with a par 72, and finished 2-under, tied for 14th. Mark O'Meara, the only player besides Steve Elkington with two wins this year, had three double-bogeys in his 78, which dropped him to 11-over and a tie for 70th.

Daly chronology

August 1991: Wins 1991 PGA Championship at age 25.

December 1991: At the World Championship in Jamaica, he signs an incorrect card after shooting an 87 in the second round and is disqualified. Breaks putter in that round and finishes using an iron.

December 1991: Destroys hotel room in South Africa while drunk.

February 1992: Disqualified at the Australian Masters when he fails to sign his scorecard after shooting an 81 in the second round.

June 1992: Forced off New York-bound plane in Denver after confrontation with stewardess while drunk.

September 1992: Wins B.C. Open.

Dec. 20, 1992: Charged with third-degree assault of then-wife Bettye.

L Dec. 30, 1992: Enters Sierra Tucson rehab center in Arizona.

Jan. 29, 1993: Returns to competition at Phoenix Open.

May 24, 1993: Pleads guilty to harassment of Bettye; assault charge dropped.

June 1993: Disqualified at Kemper Open after not signing his card following a final-round 77.

November 1993: Daly picks up ball in second round of the Kapalua International after missing a birdie putt. Suspended by PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman for three months.

March 8, 1994: Returns to PGA Tour. Says he has been sober for more than 14 months.

May 1994: Wins BellSouth, says it's first victory sober.

August 1994: Scuffles with 62-year-old man after shooting 81 in final round of World Series of Golf.

September 1994: PGA Tour announces Daly agrees to sit out rest of year.

January 1995: Returns to PGA Tour.

July 1995: Wins British Open.

August 1996: Is seen drinking in public.

October 1996: Admits he is drinking again, calling it "social" drinking.

March 13, 1997: Cites sore hip and withdraws from Honda Classic

March 27, 1997: Drinks for several hours in a bar after shooting a 76 in first round of Players Championship.

March 28, 1997: Cites sore hip and withdraws from Players Championship.

March 30, 1997: Says he will enter alcohol rehab.

Pub Date: 3/31/97

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