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Golf Today 3rd February
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John Daly back off the wagon

Baker-Finch rules out return at Open

John Daly back off the wagon

When last we heard of John Daly, the golfer they charitably call The Wild Thing, he had jumped off the wagon and leapt back into the casinos.

Surely then, complete self destruction must be hovering just one more drink or gambling chit away?

Not so, insisted an upbeat and typically Frank Daly yesterday while preparing, as a special guest of the host, for the $2million Greg Norman Holden Invitational at The Lakes.

"Yeah, I'm back to drinking and gambling. But the truth is that I don't do much of either really," said the man whose on-course antics have several times earned him PGA Tour suspensions and whose bizarre off-course exploits have earned him far more notoriety than the two major golf titles he had acquired before his 30th birthday.

"As I have told the media at home, my situation now is basically like when you are 20 years old and you are dying for it to be legal to buy some alcohol. But as soon as a you turn 21 it is not that big a deal. That's pretty much how it's been for me. I haven't really drunk that much and I haven't really been gambling that much.

"It used to be I was in big debt from gambling, as you well know, when I signed with Callaway. I am not in any debt whatsoever now," insisted Daly, who has just signed a series of new sponsorship deals to promote a shirt with his own trademarked lion logo, an energy soft drink and an American-made car.

"I'm open now. When Callaway paid off my debts, I was pretty much theirs. Now I can go out and do other deals and I'm having fun with it," said Daly, who will also wear his Crown Casino livery this week, courtesy of his great friend – "I love him to death" – Lloyd Williams.

In a wide-ranging and good-humored interview, here's an abridged version on other aspects of his life and times.

What are your thoughts when someone of Greg Norman's stature says he supports you and believes you can win another major?

It's awesome. Greg has been a great friend ... he's always been easy to talk to. I've been working really hard at my game but putting like crap.

Do you have a New Year's resolution?

The best one would be for me to win again. That's what I want. To get back on track and win again.

Do you think you have another major in you?

I am looking forward to going back to St Andrews where I won in '95, and to the Masters and Pebble Beach for the US Open. But the PGA is at Valhalla which is probably one of the worst courses we play all year. I'm trying to be a little different this year, preparing like every tournament is a major.

What can we expect of you here?

Hopefully I can contend. I'm hitting the ball well enough. I'm trying some putters today and hopefully I will find the right one. If I could just make some four or five-footers in the first round tomorrow, that will be crucial to my confidence. Last week I had 36 putts on Saturday and 37 on Sunday. It's never happened to me before.

The new breed of golfers put so much emphasis on diet and fitness. Where does a player like you fit into this evolvement?

I wouldn't last if I worked out, man. I tried working out. I went on a six-month work-out plan. People said I would feel great after it. Hell, I threw up every time I worked out. It's not for me. I can't stand it, to telll the truth. I figure if those guys are working out I can get an edge by practising while they do it.

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