When I first met you several years ago, two significant things had happened in your life: You had won the PGA Championship, and you had assaulted your house in Colorado. I was making my monthly stop to lecture at a substance abuse clinic, and you were a patient. I could tell you were eager to get out. After all, when a rat bites the cheese in a trap and the trap slams shut, the rat doesn't want the cheese anymore—he wants out of the trap. Now, after a second visit to rehab, you should know that just putting in the time there doesn't mean you're in recovery.
I've been sober since Nov. 8, 1983, and my life works today, but you know my history. I went from playing in three Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys to a cell block, with many horrifying stops in between. John, I hope your drinking and egoing don't take you down the same road.
I know you've received mixed messages. What are you to think? You've only been slapped on the wrist when you've gotten into trouble and at the same time have had millions of dollars thrust upon you. Remember, there are two things that will absolutely kill an alcoholic: drinking and thinking. You've refused to join 12-step groups. That tells me that John is listening to John. When your voice is the only one you hear, a fool is in charge.
Those lucky enough to be in recovery accept two concepts: We are powerless over alcohol, and our lives have become unmanageable. People close to you knew for some time that you were out of control.
You minimized the volume of your drinking when you started again. That's typical. The one thing that alcohol treatment does 100% of the time is screw up an alcoholic's drinking. There's guilt with every gulp.
Now you are experiencing the consequences of your own behavior. This is your life, John Daly: The state of Colorado put you on probation; you were suspended by the PGA Tour, got divorced from Bettye Fulford, experienced financial chaos because of gambling, were hospitalized after a dangerous drinking episode at the Players Championship and lost your contract with Wilson; your current wife, Paulette Dean, has also filed for divorce. All of these events have been hashed out in the media, and all of them were caused by you.
Remember, if you think of yourself as a victim, you learn nothing. You're only a victim of your own actions. You have resented those who have held you accountable. Forgive them, John, for they know what they do. I hope the outpatient program you recently completed helped you understand that sobriety is your only option.
Learning how to live is hard, John. Acting as if you know how to live is stupid. Life is hard. Add alcohol, gambling, arrogance, fear and dishonesty, and it's impossible. Stay sober, and you'll stay free of the consequences of alcoholic behavior.
Of all the golfers in the world, you're the only one who can have a wedge in his hand when Tiger Woods has one in his. If you stay sober, you can beat Tiger. If you drink again, you won't.