Go to contents

“The New Daly”

Posted February. 16, 2004 22:47,   


The 100kg-weighing John Daly, who is approaching his 40s, shed tears unconscious of the crowds.

At the deciding moment of Daly`s overtime victory in the fourth round of the 2004 PGA

Buick Invitational held in California’s La Hoya Tory Pines GC South Course (par 72, 7607 yards), Daly shrugged his shoulders as he buried his face in his palms. The total prize money amounted to $4.8 million.

It had been so long since he captured his last championship. It`s been almost nine years since the British Open in 1995: precisely 8 years 6 months and 22 days. Daly has gone through lots of happenings during those years.

Alcohol seemed to be the biggest factor for his slump. Daly happened to rise to the spotlight in the United States golf association when he won his first PGA championship in 1991 and captured the British Open title. This was the time when Daly acquired his nickname “superhuman long stroker” for his powerful drive shots, which went easily over 300 yards.

But Daly indulged in alcohol to ease the stress of busy tour activities and lighten the pressure of matches and he became an alcoholic that hurt him as a player. He stayed off the green for a year after the 1992 tour season to give up drinking and came back to win the 1994 Bell South Classic and the 1995 British Open to be the youngest player holding two major titles. But a little later, liquor took him in again.

Daly entered the rehabilitation center for a cure, repeated the cycle of drinking and treatment, and even started to put his hands into gambling. Due to his quick-tempered characteristics, he used to throw clubs on the ground during rounds, gave up during the matches, and even received a suspension from the United States Golf Association. To make it worse, two divorces and family troubles made him a loser in the golf world.

His efforts to recover seemed very gruesome. Every time he had a chance to drink he would replace whiskey with beer. Soon after, he calmed his thirstiness by taking Coke instead of beer, which he used to take 30 bottles before. He traveled to participate in tours by re-modeled trailer instead of by plane.

As Daly showed possibilities to come back after winning the Korea Open and the Callaway Pebble Beach last year, he revived his career to become the “new Daly” by capturing this Buick Invitational title. Daly only went through three competitions thus far for the season, but regained his long stroke in which he stands in first place. The accuracy of his drive shots jumped from 49.7 percent to 60.5 percent this year, and the percentage to put the ball on the green increased from 63.8 percent to 76.5 percent. The average number of putts put him in eighth place this year from 119 the previous year, as Daly shows an equally equipped game in all three categories.

"I held two titles before, but this one comes as the most important for me. This victory means more as it was the one in which [Tiger] Woods participated in, and it`s the sweetest win ever since it`s the victory after all the struggles in life I’ve been through."

Tiger Woods commented, "I know Daly dealt with a hard time and I want to congratulate him for his successful comeback."

Sang-Soo Kim ssoo@donga.com