Sweet Redemption

John Daly, now chugging M&M's instead of beers, is confining his hard-driving ways to the golf course
June 06, 1993

Bertrand Russell once called drunkenness "temporary suicide." But with John Daly, you were never quite sure. Was he just trying to kill himself or everybody else? Take intersections, for instance. One night, with about a dozen Jack Daniel's riding shotgun, he got mad and mobile and went flying through 17 straight red lights. Is that the standing record for failed suicide attempts? In the next seat his buddy swallowed hard and tried to keep from cutting into the dash with his fingernails.

You want to hurt me? Wrong. I'll hurt myself first.

Daly's wife, Bettye, remembers one afternoon last year when he'd played lousy. She was in the car with their new baby, Shynah. John was brooding and stepping on it. They came to a fairly busy intersection. He wasn't slowing down. She looked at him. He didn't look back. She warned him about the red. He saw it. He never let up on the gas. Bettye screamed. They made it through. "If that's not depressed," says Bettye, "what is?"

Was it the drinking that brought out all the anger, or was it the anger that brought out all the drinking? One night in a bar in St. Augustine, Fla., the glass Daly was holding suddenly shattered from the sheer ferocity of his grip. What was inside him that he wouldn't let out? Sober, John Daly was one of the quietest, nicest guys you ever met. He wouldn't say boo to you if you walked up and spit in his face. Only alcohol let you know how much rage was inside.

So you had to make double bogey at 18? So you had to gain weight? So your first marriage failed? Take that.

He once ripped the seat out of a friend's van in a blurry fit. Once snapped the rearview mirror out of a van and threw it out the window, and then put his fist through a side-view mirror. He filled two towels with blood that night and still wouldn't let anyone take him to the hospital. One thing about people who smash mirrors: They usually don't like what they're seeing. All you have to do is look at Daly's hands to see who he has punished the most. His fists are as scarred as a rose gardener's.

But what has never made sense is how those same wounded hands could also be two of the most buttery-soft in the game of golf. Even when he was still high from the previous night's carousing, Daly could play golf like an angel. Come to think of it, that was half the problem.

You think golf is hard? Try it seeing three balls instead of one. Try it with a buzz on. Try it waking up right before your tee time in a rental car in the clubhouse parking lot, wearing the same eau de Jack Daniel's you wore yesterday. Try it with cotton mouth and the whiskey shakes. Daly could play golf all these ways and more. He once played fresh from a hospital where a nurse had told him she'd never seen a .27% blood-alcohol count before.

Bad news, Mr. Daly. Some blood accidentally got into your alcoholstream.

Hard? John Daly did everything hard. Played in an alcohol fog plenty of times on the mini-tours and still kicked butt. Had a beer before he teed off at last year's Honda Classic; still made the cut. Fractured his right pinkie punching out a hotel room after the first round of a tournament in South Africa; still shot 21 under par and won the tournament. "Christ," he says, "most people'd be drunk two days on what I'd have before dinner."

And every time Daly went out to play while he was still drunk from the night before, Rick Ross, his teacher, would say to himself, "Lord, let him shoot 85." Instead Daly would shoot around 67.

Maybe that's why the sight of a sober John Daly is giving a lot of green-eyed Tour players the shakes these days. If this haystack of a kid could win the 1991 PGA Championship out of the trunk of his car and set a new record for rookie money winnings and be named Rookie of the Year and the next year win the B.C. Open by six shots, all while he was up to his eyeballs in Michelob, how unbeatable would he be sober? If he was the No. 1 draw in golf as Troubled Youth, how much would the people love him as Courageous Recovering Alcoholic?

"I know there's a lot of guys would love to see me fail," Daly says. "Well, good. Let 'em. I'm glad."

Already this season, only 150-plus days into sobriety, there are signs of how scary-good Daly can be: A 66 on the sidewalk-narrow fairways of The Players Championship. Third at the Masters. Starting to actually read putts. And only 27 years old. Good gracious. What has rehab wrought?

And what a strange rehab it is. Typical Daly—he's trying it without a net. It is April, and he is sitting in, of all places, a giant country and western bar in New Orleans called Mudbug's. The dance floor is your basic par-5. Two of his friends, Blake Allison and Sean Pacetti, sit on adjacent stools. Daly's heavy-metal haircut is a little long, and he's getting seriously undertall for his weight, owing to the six-pack of peanut M&M's he puts away every couple of hours to calm his sugar cravings. Yeah, you drink an average of 16 beers a day for months and suddenly stop, sugar cravings aren't uncommon. Daly's caddie, Greg Rita, reports somewhat mournfully, "The other day in a Shootout, he ate six bags in a hole and a half."

Daly stacks three packs of Marlboros in front of him neatly. He takes out a stack of bills from his money clip and sets them in front of him, also neatly. Allison has rum, Pacetti has a Bud, but Daly has a Diet Coke. Lord, docs the man have Diet Coke. So far today he has had 14 cans of it. For the first bill, $7.25, he gives the waitress a 20 and pushes the change back at her. "Just keep 'em comin'," he says. You drink hard ever since you were in high school, you want to keep your hands busy.

Hard? John Daly still does everything the hard way. O.K., you think you 're going to make it? Let's see you not drink in the biggest bar in Louisiana. He loves the challenge. He is a reformed pickpocket at a baggy-suit convention. He sits on his stool and never gets up, slugging down DCs and burning down those Marlboros, just one frosty mug away from trouble. The war inside Daly carries on.

You think you can make it hard on me? Not as hard as I make it on myself.

"Seems I used to do everything like I was on a mission," he says. "If it was alcohol, I wanted to drink till I couldn't see straight. If it was golf, I wanted to beat everybody's brains out. If it was driving, I can get there faster'n you can. It's not anybody's fault, I guess. I was stubborn as hell. I had no direction."

Since his wham-bans three-week drive-thru rehab in Tucson in January, Daly hasn't been to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and has no plans to attend one. "How long can you sit and listen to somebody else's problems?" he says. "Can you see me all pumped up to play golf the next day in a tournament, and then some guy starts talking about how he got drunk and killed his best friend? I'd be too depressed to pick up a club. I've got my own program."

The Daly Program seems to be, Trust yourself. Failing that, Trust your friends. Like Allison, Daly's extra-large ex-drinkin' buddy, who owns a liquor store in Morrilton, Ark. He was Daly's roommate when Daly was at his worst, fresh off the failure of his first marriage, depressed about his golf, getting outside some serious Jack. "Hell, now that John's quit drinkin'," Allison says, "business hasn't been worth a damn."

Bettye isn't so sure about having old cronies like Allison around John, but she shouldn't fret. The other day John, in a moment of weakness, said, "God, Blake, I really need a beer."

Allison looked up from a cold one and said, "If you do it, I'll kill you."

"Good," said Daly, sinking back in his chair. "Kill me. Go ahead and kill me. 'Cause in five years, I'd be dead anyway."

Hell, that wouldn't be much of a surprise. The surprise is that he isn't dead already.

Hard? Hard is having fans treat you like Mount Rushmore, like you don't have ears.

At the Masters, in Augusta, a fan not six feet from where Daly is putting is heard to say, "What'd Daly get busted for, alcohol or drugs?"

"A li'l bit of everythin', I reckon," says another fan.

At TPC, in Ponte Vedra, Fla., Daly is about to step up to an impossible shot when a fan is heard to say, "Right about now, he's wishin' he had a Scotch in his bag."

"Yeah," says another. "Or a wife to punch."

At a Tour stop in New Orleans, a plastered fan is heard to holler, "C'mon, John! We're going to Pat O'Brien's!"

"We're on your tab!" says another.

This is the hard part now: trying to make it. Not caring what they think. Being 27, suddenly rich and trying to figure out a way to get off the roller coaster without getting killed.

In his rented home in Augusta, Daly rises out of his Barcalounger like a doomed man, takes another handful of the hated peanut M&M's and smushes them into the top of a piece of double-chocolate cake. He plops down again, disgusted with himself. "If I don't stop eating these goddam things, I'm going to look like the Goodyear blimp," he says. "Seriously, I'll bet you any amount of money I never eat another peanut M&M...after this." Upon which he shoves a chunk of the cake into his face.

"Bg gddm ft slb," he says.

Lord have mercy on the most human man in golf. He hits big, succeeds big and fails big. The only things as big as his heart are his weaknesses. But he is trying to lick them, one demon at a time.

"Make sure you write one thing," he says, washing down a monster glob of cake with a river of Diet Coke. "These people who write me to tell me to stop smoking—by god, I quit drinking. I ain't gonna quit smoking, too. This is hard enough."

On the living room big screen Daly's idol, Jack Nicklaus, is being interviewed about his opening-round 67 in the Masters, which tied him for the lead.

Jack, how can you possibly do this at 53?

"Well," Nicklaus says, "I realized that I had to get in better shape. Today's players are hitting the gym after every round, doing push-ups, sit-ups, working out, eating the right foods."

"That's right, Jack!" Daly hollers from the side of his mouth that's not gripping the Marlboro. "That's very true. Here I am sitting with my 104th Diet Coke and my fifth goddam bag of peanut M&M's, looking like a big bag of——. Yeah, Jack, let me light up another cigarette on that."

And yet inside Daly is a man with perhaps more Nicklaus-like potential than anybody else in the game. As a spectacle, he's already there. Daly is the only man on the PGA Tour who commands bigger galleries than Nicklaus. Tournament directors agree that Daly guarantees an extra 30,000 fans at the gate.

Hard? You have no earthly idea how hard Daly hits a golf ball until you have witnessed it. Yes, it's true that his 287.6 yards per drive this season leads all other players by 10 yards. (The year before Daly arrived on the Tour, the leader won by .2 of a yard.) And yes, it's true that Daly's drives are easily the longest in the 14 years the Tour has kept track. But what's more mind-bending than the length of his drives is their height. They go so high that the ball seems to vaporize. And if you're thinking about numbers, consider that Daly gets very little roll off his drives. Most players get at least a 20-yard roll. Daly's drives carry so high that they come down like hailstones and roll almost nowhere.

Daly is Shaquille O'Neal to the rest of golf's Will Perdue. The other day at the Greater Greensboro Open, Daly suddenly turned sideways on the tee of the par-5 13th hole, a dogleg left around a lake and hit a moon shot that not only carried the 320 yards over the lake but also ended up going about 360. Daly eagled the hole. Nobody remembers anybody else even trying that shot before.

Daly's monsterism is so famed that three or four times a year Japanese photographers ask his caddie to take the head cover off Daly's Killer Whale driver so they can shoot the legendary beast. Watch your fingers, boys. It's nearly feeding time.

In an $80,000, winner-take-all, long-drive showdown between Daly and the Senior tour's longest driver, Jim Dent, in April at the Woodlands in Houston, each player had the option to declare his first drive a mulligan. Dent went first. He hit a screamer 318 yards, right down the middle.

"Would you like us to count that one, Mr. Dent?" the moderator asked.

"Oh, yeah," said Dent excitedly. "Count it."

Now it was Daly's turn. He put in orbit a projectile that finally came down 321 yards later, with no roll. The crowd gasped.

"Would you like us to count that one, Mr. Daly?" the moderator asked.

"Nahhhh," said Daly.

The competition was effectively over. Daly went on to average 337 yards, Dent 313.

There is nothing mysterious about it. Daly just plain takes the biggest lick in history. No other player on the planet takes the club back as far as Daly. He has been told by teachers at every level that his grip is too strong, his backswing too big and the end of his career too near. Nobody has been right yet. One of the most commonly heard backswing criticisms is "You're taking it past parallel." Where Daly takes it, parallel is a toll call away. He takes it back and back and back into no-man's land, where double and triple bogeys lurk. He takes it back until the club head nearly touches the ball. Then, and only then, does he begin his cyclonic downswing. Small children have been carried a few feet in the clubsuck.

Everything Daly does on a course is fast and big. Golf magazine recently measured the time it took Tour players to hit drives, irons and putts. Daly was found to be fastest overall. Over putts he averaged only 21.1 seconds, about half the Tour average. Over irons, only 15.6 seconds. Over drives, 18.7. It makes his caddie crazy. "He's actually getting better," says Rita. "I used to be in the middle of getting his yardage when he'd hit. Now at least he waits to hear how far he's got."

If Nick Faldo is the game's greatest mechanical player, the practice-until-you-bleed type, then Daly is the anti-Faldo. He is all feel and no mechanics, all emotion and no reserve. But it is not only all that—the feel for the game, the speed with which he plays, the Rand McNally distances that he hits the ball—that makes Daly so wildly popular. It's also his chubby face and sad blue eyes, the kind that mothers love and fathers counsel. Indeed, Daly's public troubles have only made the fans love him more. "He just looks," one fan is heard to say, "like he needs some guidance."

Hard? Daly has done life the hard way. The youngest of three children born to Jim and Lou Daly, John had an overwhelming need to be perfect. Maybe it was because his dad, a nuclear engineer, was often gone, working on the road, working nights, sleeping all day. It's hard to get a lot of approval from an empty chair at the dinner table. If John stayed around the house during the day, he had to keep quiet lest he disturb his father's sleep. "We weren't the kind of family that talked about our problems," he recalls. "We were a close family, in a kind of faraway way. It wasn't a being-with-each-other kind of close. We all went our own ways."

Because of Jim's work, the Dalys moved from town to town—from Sacramento, where John was born; to Dardanelle, Ark.; to Locust Grove, Va.; to Zachary, La.; to Jefferson City, Mo. The place to be for a pudgy new kid on the block was out on the golf course, practicing a game that didn't require buddies or teammates. Daly would slog through ponds to find golf balls, take them to a nearby baseball diamond and try to hit them over the backstops. He never had a junior set of clubs, only an adult set of Jack Nicklaus McGregors. If you're seven years old and trying to make a waterlogged ball go over a backstop with a driver as big as you, you learn to take a serious lash at it.

Daly rarely played with other kids. He took on the men at Lake of the Woods Country Club in Fredericksburg, Va. When he won the men's championship there at 12, the rules were changed so kids couldn't play in it anymore. Daly was mad about it, but he said nothing. Instead, he kept it inside and just hit the little white ball a little harder. "Seemed like the harder I swung, the better I hit it," he recalls.

The booze came early too. Daly tried his first beer at 10, his first mason jar of his parents' homemade wine at 12. Jim was a big Jack Daniel's man, so John became one too. "It was always, 'Let's see what Dad has in the cupboard,' " he says.

When John was a high school senior, his parents moved to New Hampshire and let him and his big brother Jamie live together back in Dardanelle by themselves. John had always made A's and B's, but after that, with so much partying and golfing to do, schoolwork didn't make the cut.

Daly's golf talent got him a half-ride scholarship to the University of Arkansas. There, his coach, Steve Loy, constantly rode him about his weight. He was 230, and Loy wanted him down to 170. For Daly it was like trying to pass under a door. He would qualify for road trips by beating everybody else on the team, only to have Loy take him back to the 1st tee and say, "If you hit this one in the rough, you're not going." Burning inside, Daly purposely would hit the ball in the rough. You want to hurt me? Wrong. I'll hurt myself first. He would get left home. And yet not say a word to Loy. "Basically I was scared of him," he recalls. "I hated him."

Loy put Daly on a strict diet. But Daly wanted to play golf more than breathe, so he pretty much stopped eating altogether. His four basic food groups became Jack Daniel's, Diet Coke, black coffee and Marlboros. "No doctor anywhere would put somebody on a diet like that," Daly says now. Still, he wasn't about to say a word to Loy. You grow up being quiet around the house when your dad's sleeping, and you don't say much. You grow up as the chubby new kid on the block, and you take care not to make enemies.

"I was always the one asking everybody else if they were O.K.," Daly says. "I never talked about my problems. I didn't want to admit I had problems. I just let 'em build up. I didn't want anybody to know I was hurtin'. I didn't want anybody mad at me." But where do things unsaid go?

The sober Daly became Mr. Whatever You Want. Mr. No Problem. Forever the new kid on the block, trying to make some friends. "If he was down to his last $100, he'd give it to you," says his old Hogan tour buddy Pacetti. If the check came, Daly would pick it up—even if it meant needing to win the next day to pay the Visa bill. Even today Daly is overly generous. He pays Rita a salary, not a percentage of winnings, which is how most other caddies are paid, and the salary is generous. Of the $230,000 Daly earned for his storybook PGA win, he gave $30,000 to the family of a fan killed by lightning during the tournament and another $20,000 to Pacetti's junior golf charity.

But there was a funny thing about the diet he had adopted. For a while it worked. "Everybody told me to stop drinking beer," says Daly. "So what else is there? Whiskey." One thing about Jack Daniel's—it doesn't add much weight, not like beer. Suddenly, Daly did lose pounds. No more chubby new kid. People started calling him Skinny. His self-esteem was riding high. A dangerous connection had been made: Jack Daniel's became Daly's very good friend.

At 21 he married Dale Crafton, daughter of one of the fanciest families in Blytheville, Ark. She wanted to live in Blytheville. He didn't. He fell out of place. He did it anyway. The wedding was huge. Daly hated it. The marriage lasted two years. "I did it to please her," he says. "I wanted to make her happy. Her grandparents gave us a house to live in, but I felt like a cheap person. I didn't want anybody giving me anything." The day of his divorce, Daly was playing on the South Africa tour. Drunk and depressed, he went ballistic in his hotel room. He won the tournament with a fractured right pinkie.

When he got depressed, he would drink. When he played bad, he would drink. When he felt himself swallowing his anger, he would drink. Some nights he would sleep in the clubhouse parking lot so as not to miss his
tee time. Only trouble was, he would drink so much that he would still be inebriated the next morning. Of the three balls he would sometimes see, he learned to guess which was the real one.

There was the time in Falmouth, Maine, in '90, when he'd been so depressed nobody was sure what to do. He was driving along with a friend, Brent Everson, and said, without blinking, without smiling, "Do you ever think about just running off the road and straight into a tree?" A few nights later he stuck a loaded bottle into his mouth and nearly killed himself with alcohol. He'd been with a buddy, Roger Rowland, who'd been drinking pretty good himself that night. When Daly passed out and Rowland couldn't get him revived, he threw him in the car. Rowland got so scared that he pulled over a cop to ask him directions to the hospital. At the hospital, doctors realized Daly had fallen into a coma and couldn't be revived. "I really thought he was going to die," says Rowland. Daly played well the next day.

Through it all Daly's golf kept improving. He won a Hogan lour event in 1990 and qualified for the PGA Tour that fall. And when he was the last alternate added to the '91 PGA field at Crooked Stick Golf Club, in Carmel, Ind., and won without ever having seen the course before, Daly went from utter darkness to white-light celebrity in the space of 96 hours.

What really slew Daly was how his fame had changed him less than everybody else. When he was trying to get his career going, he would ask people for money, for sponsorships and gel nothing. Then after he became Long John Daly, American legend, he says, "those same people would come up to me and say, 'We knew you could do it. We always said that, didn't we, hon? Say, do you think you could do us a favor? We could use some tickets.' " And, warring inside, he would get them.

So he escaped to the land of the ever flowing tap, where the rage would come flooding out in cars and hotel rooms and bars. "Other guys were there socially," Daly says. "I was there professionally." Only now there was as much money as there was booze; one night, after Daly drank from 5 p.m. till 4 a.m., the bar tab came to $1,200. And now people knew exactly who that was nearly passed out in the corner. Rumors flew. Pressures grew. Life got way past parallel.

Daly's parents asked him to quit drinking. "He'd have a bad round and get so depressed," remembers his mom. "We just felt he needed professional help."

His friends asked him to quit. "It wasn't relaxing to be around him," says Allison. "You never knew what crazy thing he was going to do to himself next."

Bettye tried to pull him away from temptation. He'd met her in April 1990, when she was a hotel executive in Macon, Ga. She had him play golf all day, tennis all night. Wear him out. But it didn't help. He resented her efforts. They were on again, they were off again. She had told him she was 29 and divorced. She was actually 37 and still married (she didn't get divorced until September 1991). She bore him a daughter. They parted. She sued for palimony and support of the child with no less than Marvin Mitchelson on her side. Daly went back to her. She dropped the suit and married him. Even love, Daly did the hard way.

"Everything we've been through is just a test," says Daly.

The biggest test was still to come.

To escape the old, wild and angry days, they moved to the peaceful quiet of Castle Pines Golf Club in Castle Rock, Colo. Only problem was, the wild and the angry and the drinking came right along with them. On Dec. 19, 1992, the Dalys had a few friends over to the new house. Dan Hampton, the former lineman of the Chicago Bears, was there as a houseguest, along with his girlfriend, Julie. Daly's brother Jamie was there, along with his date, and a few others. Everybody was drinking, playing pool, living it up. All day Bettye had the feeling that Julie was trying to "hit on" her husband. She didn't like the way she had been draping herself on him. When Bettye came down, a little tipsy herself, she finally told Hampton to control his girlfriend and then told Julie, "This is my house!" Julie ran upstairs with Hampton.

Daly blew. According to police reports, he pushed her against a wall and pulled her hair. The Dalys say he never touched her. "Slow down here!" John says he screamed. "We're all havin' a good time!" She didn't think so. Two guests left. Hampton and Julie stayed in their room. Daly went double ballistic. He smashed a hole in the wall. He smashed a window. He smashed a picture, cutting his hand badly. He smashed two built-in trophy cases full of crystal. He smashed the glass-encased set of golf clubs he used to win the PGA. You want to hurt me? I'll hurt myself first. He smashed a 57-inch television set. He took out food from the refrigerator and smashed it. "Remember when Richard Pryor said he killed his car?" Daly recalls. "Well, I killed my house." There was blood spattered on one wall. As usual, it was all his.

Bettye went upstairs with Shynah and hid in the closet. "I was scared for our safety," she says.

The Dalys still don't know who called the police, but late that night, after John had already packed up and started driving to Arkansas to cool down, the cops came. Bettye refused to press charges, but under Colorado state law, police are forced to press them at nearly every scene of domestic violence. They did.

Daly had one last drink with Allison at a Hooters in Little Rock on Dec. 21, 1992, at 11:30 p.m., then drove back to Colorado, where he pleaded innocent to misdemeanor charges of battery and harassment. After the story hit the papers, PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman called Daly and said if he didn't check into alcohol rehab, he would probably be suspended. Daly flew to Tucson to see if he could be helped to end, once and for all, the war inside himself.

John Daly was at it again, beating holy hell out of the furniture, screaming from way inside, the rage and the tears flowing out.

Only this time he was a patient at Sierra Tucson, an addiction treatment center, and the furniture was a huge compressed block of foam, against which Daly was swinging a bataka, a giant, three-inch-thick tennis-racket-shaped foam club.

Where do things unsaid go? Outside, if you've got the tools to expel them. At Sierra, Daly was taught ways to get the rage out without abusing alcohol, mirrors or furniture. If he feels like destroying something now, he'll wet a towel and beat sense into a mattress until he crumples from exhaustion.

He learned that he might occasionally be angry at someone besides himself. If he feels used by somebody from the past, he'll set the memory of that person down in an empty chair and let fly: "Hey, where in the hell were you when I needed you? I mean, you didn't give a——about me when I had nothin', so what do you want from me now?"

Now Daly wants to puke every time he smells liquor on somebody's breath. Maybe this is not one of the Twelve Steps, but it has got to be a good sign. His dad got scared enough to give up drinking too. "I'm proud as hell of him," says John. Jim and Lou even went down to the clinic in Tucson and found out they needed to do a lot of talking themselves.

Remarkably, Daly lost none of his friends. "I put their lives in jeopardy," he says. "I nearly killed them. And they still love me like I'm their brother or something. That's amazing."

Mirrors are fairly safe again. Daly sort of likes what he sees. Fire-tested, he believes he and Bettye will last forever. "It has to be true love that we're together," he says. "There's no way I could love anybody as much as I love her."

Yeah, he can be moody now and he can still get depressed, and he's a long way from over it. The other day at the Kemper Open, he shot 77 the first day and failed to sign his scorecard, disqualifying himself from the tournament. "I'm sorry about that," he said. "I made a mistake. I shouldn't have been playing. My mind wasn't on the tournament. My mind was going 500 different ways." What was on his mind were the Castle Pines charges scheduled for court five days later. Daly flew to Colorado, plea-bargained to a charge of misdemeanor harassment and accepted a two-year probation. To prove to the court that he is in some kind of program, he has agreed to work with former Dallas Cowboy Thomas (Hollywood) Henderson on addiction recovery.

But now at least, among all the other things broiling inside him, there's a little peace, too. He is selling his house in Colorado, where he couldn't practice for three months a year, and moved to Orlando, just down the block from Shaquille O'Neal, a man who is to backboards what Daly used to be to vans. "The number one reason we moved is to help my recovery," Daly says. "I can be outside more. Back there I just sat around drinking."

He's even stopping at all the reds.

"Parents kind of go on too much sometimes, but when I tell Shynah I've been there, that I've been through it, I think she'll believe me," he says. "I'll never have alcohol in my house. Maybe I shouldn't say this, but there have been a lot of alcoholics in my family. I want the chain stopped."

The kid without direction has one now: forward.

"Nobody can know what's in my heart," he says, staring down a New Orleans sunset. "Nobody can know what I'm thinking. I know what I've got to do. If I take another drink, I'm history. It's a lot easier knowing you can't do something than knowing you shouldn't. I can't. I've got a rule: I don't drink while I'm sober."

Sadly, during our visit it happened.

Looking back on it, the surprise should've been that it took so long. After all, most of Daly's friends and family were doing it right in front of his nose. He told them to go ahead, that he was the one with the problem, not they. And yet as he watched them, he ached. It had been so long. Worse, it was sitting right there, in the middle of the kitchen table. His willpower was so skimpy that he had asked them all to watch him closely, but they were busy in conversation. They wouldn't see in time. Like somebody breaking free of shackles, he suddenly lurched for it. In an instant, it was gone. The bag of peanut M&M's.

"Gddmn ths thgs," he said.

PHOTOBILL FRAKES TWO PHOTOSSTEPHEN MUNDAY/ALLSPORTDaly's big drives led him to a PGA title and cast an unwelcome public eye on him and Bettye. PHOTOHEINZ KLUETMEIERAfter John entered rehab, his father, Jim, decided that he too should give up alcohol. PHOTOBILL FRAKESBettye and Shynah became constants for John when matrimony replaced palimony. PHOTOBILL FRAKESFor Daly, losing all bad habits would be a drag. PHOTOBILL FRAKESThe move to Orlando has helped Daly to stay dry by spending more time outdoors. PHOTODAVID E. KLUTHOWhen it's Miller time for pals (from left) Pacetti, Rita, Allison and Chuck Hughes, Daly has a DC.
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)