New Sponsor Helped Daly Off the Bottle, Back on Tour

DUBLIN, Ohio -- John Daly is back, and this time he says it will be different. This time he knows simply quitting alcohol is not enough.

"This time I learned an awful lot,'' Daly said Tuesday at Muirfield Village, site of this week's Memorial Tournament. "I actually read books. I surrounded myself with people that love me for the problem that I have.''

The key change, Daly said, is that he is committed to an after-care program, something he didn't do after his rehab in 1993. Daly's contract with Callaway Golf -- his new equipment company -- requires that he participate in such a program.

The Callaway deal runs through 2001 and "is top-loaded with incentives in the later years of the contract,'' an industry source said, making it financially wise for Daly to stay sober for at least the length of the contract.

At only 31 years of age, a proven winner with a PGA Championship and a British Open to his credit and a huge fan favorite because of his length off the tee, Daly is a sensible gamble for Callaway.

Asked what his goals were for the rest of the year, Daly paused, glanced down at his lap, shook his head almost sadly and said:

"I don't know. I just want to get through today.''

Daly withdrew from the Players Championship on March 28 after a drunken spree. Two days later, he checked into the famous Betty Ford center.

In rapid fashion, his wife Paulette filed for divorce and Wilson terminated its lucrative contract with him.

Now, eight weeks later, 15 kilograms lighter and with a new equipment company backing him, Daly is ready to try to return to competitive golf. He's been down this road before, having returned to the tour in 1993 after alcohol rehabilitation.

That stint of sobriety ended late last summer with experiments with social drinking that soon lapsed into alcoholism.

This time, he says, it will be different.