But as he turns 50 on Thursday and starts a new chapter in his life and career, Daly says he has found something new: peace.
— John Daly eased his golf cart to a stop when he encountered three men working on his 18-hole course.
It’s the same course on which he learned to play when he was growing up in this town of 4,745.“I think your pond’s full of snakes,” one of the men said.“Oh, there’s tons of them in there,” Daly replied.
“Got Copperheads, water moccasins.”“Yeah, killed three,” the man said.“Attaboy. The men chuckled and the original bad boy of golf grinned.
In many ways, not much has changed since Daly came from nowhere to win the 1991 PGA Championship.
“I don’t want people judging me just because I’m drinking again.”► His future in golf. Then Daly went out and won the tournament, landed on the cover of and captured the imagination of sports fans with his booming drives, fearless play and rebellious streak.
“I’m still competitive as hell and I always will be.”For a guy whose life often looked so messy, Daly revealed something that might come as a surprise given his unruly behavior on and off the golf course.“I’m an OCD neat freak,” he said. But the next year, Daly recalled, he was in Palm Springs, Calif., and thinking about driving his Mercedes off a cliff. “I wasn’t a silver-spoon kid on the golf course growing up.
A phone conversation with Thomas “Hollywood’’ Henderson, the famed Dallas Cowboys player who overcame substance abuse problems, talked Daly out of going through with the suicide plan and saved his life, according to Daly.“He just said the right things to keep me from doing it and we’ve been friends ever since,” Daly said, adding that his feeling out of place on the PGA Tour contributed to the suicidal thoughts he said he never experienced again. And no disrespect to any of them, but it was hard for me to get to know some of the guys on Tour.’’When he won the 1995 British Open, Daly said, he finally felt he belonged.
“I never thought I’d get to the Champions Tour.”During a wide-ranging interview conducted in his hometown, where Daly spends about four weeks a year, he addressed topics that included:► Suicidal thoughts. You cut your hair perfect every time.”Unlike the mullet haircut, the story of how Daly burst onto the golf scene never goes out of style.
“I was going to drive my Mercedes off a cliff.”► His sex life. It was almost 25 years ago when he was the ninth and final alternate for the 1991 PGA Championship.
“Look, you’re loyal to me and you have sex when I want to have sex, then I won’t cheat on you.”► The state of the PGA Tour. He was a 25-year-old Tour rookie who’d missed 11 cuts in 23 starts and had virtually no shot to make the field.
“It’d be cool to see some of the guys cut up a little bit and have some fun.”► Sobriety. I do it all.”Less surprising: Once the owner of an infamous mullet, Daly said he usually he cuts his own hair.“I hate getting haircuts,” he said. But when a series of players pulled out, he drove halfway across the country the night before first round at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Ind..