Ever since his astonishing victory in the 1991 PGA Championship, John Daly, known affectionately on the PGA Tour as "Big 'Un," has enthralled fans with his big drives, bigger personality, and "Grip It and Rip It" approach to golf -- and to life.
Long John, usually seen with a Marlboro Light dangling from his lip, is the unchained, unpredictable, unapologetic bad boy of professional golf. "The only rules I follow," JD likes to say, "are the Rules of Golf."
Daly's play-it-as-it-lays approach drives My Life in and out of the Rough, a thrillingly -- and sometimes shockingly -- candid memoir of a larger-than-life athlete battling assorted addictions (alcohol, gambling, chocolate, sex), his weight, and, perhaps worst of all, divorce lawyers. (He's been married four times.)
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May 08, 2006
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Excerpt from My Life in and out of the Rough by John Daly
Playin' the Tour and Lovin' Life
Back in the summer of 1991, my first year on the PGA Tour, I wasn't exactly what you'd call a household name in golf, unless you happened to spend a lot of time in my mother's household.
Finally, after three and a half years of scraping by on the minitours and the South Africa Tour following my decision to drop out of college and turn pro in 1987, and after four trips to the PGA Tour's brutal Qualifying School, I'd earned my Tour card for the 1991 season. By the beginning of August, I still hadn't won anything, but I'd made about $160,000 up to that time, so I was feeling okay. I wasn't tearing it up or anything, but I'd made a bunch of cuts, and I'd finished fourth at the Honda back in March and third in the Chattanooga Classic in July.
All year, word had been spreading a little about this redneck kid from Arkansas who could really let it fly but sometimes had to do some looking for it after it landed. So at tournaments I'd draw some fans around the tee to watch me hit driver. I never saw too many people along the fairways watching me hit my second shot, but that was okay. I knew I had some other clubs in my bag. Anyway, I'd wind up that year leading the PGA Tour in driving distance with just under 289 yards (288.9, if you're a stats freak). That would be good for about number 98 in 2005, and probably out of the top 100 in 2006. But back then, it was like 6 yards ahead of Greg Norman, who was number 2, and people were taking some notice.
Playin' the Tour and lovin' life -- man, I was 25 years old, and I had the world by the tail!
As August rolled around, though, I hadn't made enough money to qualify for the PGA Championship at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Indiana, which is just outside of Indianapolis. I was close enough to know that if I'd made a few more putts along the way, I'd be getting ready for my first practice round. But I was far enough back at ninth alternate to figure I had no chance in hell of getting in.