John Daly’s departure from last year’s Willowbend Children’s Charity Pro-Am was on the abrupt side in his summer of discontent. He went straight from the 18th green to the parking lot, virtually on the run, while a security guard fended off a reporter in pursuit. Daly’s round had been somewhat turbulent as well, with him teeing up on water bottles and driving over trees and into pairings ahead of him.
That summer saw him sign an incorrect scorecard at the Greater Hartford Open, ruffle feathers at the British Open when he suggested some players should be drug-tested, make a hasty departure after one round of the New England Classic and get into a parking lot scuffle at the World Series of Golf that led to a suspension.
But this year Daly has handled everything gracefully and with compassion. He has a 25-day-old daughter, Sierra Lynn, whom he was heading home to see after Monday’s pro-am at Willowbend. He signed autographs, mixed with people and spent a leisurely time talking with the media.
The problems with alcohol seem to be behind him, his family life has stabilized, and Daly hopes to return to the form that saw him come out of obscurity to win the 1991 PGA Championship and two more PGA Tour events in the ensuing four years. The ledger this year isn’t impressive. It shows five missed cuts in 16 events (including the GHO), no top-10 finishes, just three in the top 25 and earnings of $102,582 that put him No. 102 on the money list.
“It’s been real consistent,” Daly said. “I haven’t had any real low rounds, but I haven’t had any real bad ones, either. It’s been tough, because I feel I’m hitting the ball well enough to score. It just hasn’t happened.
“I’ve salvaged a lot of rounds. I miss a green and I get it up and down. I really haven’t been making a lot of birdies. I hit 16 greens Friday in Hartford and shot 2-over. I miss the cut, and I ain’t that bad. I know it’s close.
“I’m taking these next three weeks off to get ready for the British Open. I’ve been having a lot of dizzy spells and migraine headaches the last four or five weeks. I’m going to be checked out. I had to withdraw from Memphis to see my doctor this week. I hate missing Memphis (where he lives). Hopefully it’s not something serious. I feel great.
“I’m going to get checked out and go back and work on my game and go back to basics in Rogers, Ark. I’m going to take some time off. Greg Norman took six weeks off and came back and has the month of his life or the month of a lot of players’ lives. It’s incredible. He passed Gary McCord’s career earnings in four weeks.
“Taking some time off will do me good. I hate missing Memphis, but as hot as it’s going to be, my doctor says it’s just as well I don’t play.”
Daly will not return for the New England Classic next month because of a commitment to play in the Dutch Open following the British Open at St. Andrews.
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