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."