The new that John Daly had voluntarily left the PGA Tour for the rest of the year brought a collective sigh—not only of relief but also of deep concern—from his peers. There is a sense among Daly's colleagues that self-destructive forces are building up inside the troubled young man and that he must take stock before something awful happens.
Earlier this year Daly, 28, seemed to be on the road to stability. Less than two months after returning from a four-month suspension during which he underwent alcohol rehabilitation, he won the BellSouth Classic. But divorce proceedings and a child-custody battle, not to mention the glare of the spotlight, have increased his stress. In the last two months there has been plenty of evidence that he is becoming overwhelmed.
At the Scottish Open in July, Daly made unsubstantiated claims of drug use among PGA Tour players. A few weeks later, en route to a final-round 83 in the World Series of Golf, he repeatedly hit drives into the group playing in front of him, which led to an embarrassing post-round scuffle with the father of one of the players in that group. At the Presidents Cup last week, Jay Haas, a member of the Tour's policy board, spoke for most of his peers when he said that Daly's leave-taking was "good for John and good for the Tour. John needs a break."
Daly, who has a $30 million, 10-year endorsement contract with Wilson, should use the break wisely, because he is on the verge of losing the respect of his colleagues and fans. The consensus among Daly watchers is that he needs strong management rather than yes-men, and friends and associates who will make him understand that he is not the victim he continues to portray himself to be but an adult responsible for his actions as well as an immensely talented golfer with a responsibility to his gift.
"If I could help John, I'd start with a big bottle of patience," said Davis Love III, who has a friendly relationship with Daly. "His celebrity has gotten so big that he can't handle it, and he's gotten so impatient with his life that it's like he's saying, 'The hell with everything.' I just hope he uses this time to figure out that's not ever going to be the answer."
A Rib Was the Rub
As commissioner, Deane Beman commanded the PGA Tour from March 1974 until last June. And he ran it pretty much the way Gen. Douglas MacArthur ran Japan: somewhat more imperiously than the emperor. Beman, who oversaw the launch of the Senior and Nike tours, cultivated an image of aloofness and power. Critics called him combative.
Yet last week at the Bank One Senior Classic in Lexington, Ky., Beman was effortlessly charming. He had hoped to make his Senior debut at the event, but a strained muscle in his rib cage forced him to bow out before the first round. "I'm ready for another challenge, and this is it," said the 56-year-old rookie. "I've always been competitive, and that didn't stop because I was doing something else." He's guarded about his goals as a Senior, saying, "In the short run they're realistic; in the long run, ambitious."
A two-time U.S. Amateur champ who won four Tour events, Beman has played only sporadically since he became commissioner. His last tournament was the 1990 Seniors British Open, which he led by three strokes after three rounds. Gusting rain fogged up his glasses, and he finished double bogey, double bogey, bogey, bogey to lose by a stroke to Gary Player. "I could have solved the problem by taking the glasses off," he says wistfully. "It seems so simple now, doesn't it?"