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John Daly battles for health

John Daly has always had a Ruthian swing. Now, he worries about looking like the Babe.

After an allergic reaction to diet pills last week, Daly said Wednesday he will have to cut back on his appetite for his mother's cooking -- chocolate gravy and biscuits -- and his chain-smoking.

``I have to try to cut back the smoking. That will be the hardest thing for me,'' Daly said. ``And if I do, my weight will probably balloon. If I quit, my weight is definitely going to go up to 300 or 400 pounds. I'll be looking like Babe Ruth.''

Daly looked like that a few years ago, when his body was in just as bad shape as his game. He turned it around, dropping close to 40 pounds and rising from No. 507 to No. 41 in the world ranking, which earned him a return trip to the Masters last month.

``If I could zap my fingers, I'd love to weight 195 or 200, but I don't see that happening,'' Daly said.

Another thing he might have to resist is his mother's cooking.

``When I go to my mom's house, I get chocolate gravy, which is chocolate on biscuits. It's really good,'' he said.

As a result of last week's health scare, Daly has stopped taking the diet pills.

``If I would have continued with them, it could have got really bad,'' he said.

Daly lit up during a news conference for the Benson & Hedges International, which starts Thursday at The Belfry, site of the Ryder Cup later this year.

``I consider myself physically fit to play golf. Maybe not to run a marathon, but I don't get tired on the golf course,'' Daly said. ``They took a lot of blood last week. That takes a lot out of you, and I think I'm a bit scared of it. But this is the best I've ever felt.''

Daly, who won the 1991 PGA Championship as the ninth alternate and the British Open at St. Andrews in 1995, said he has not been ordered to go on a diet.

``I'm not off the hamburgers. I don't have to turn them down that much. I'm just trying to cut back on them a little bit,'' he said.

He said he is taking a blood-thinning medication as a result of last week's reaction, which caused numbness in his left leg and hand.

Daly joined the European tour earlier this year, meaning he will have to play a minimum of 11 events (that includes the majors and World Golf Championships). A year ago, he won for the first time in six years when he captured the BMW International Open in Munich.

``I've always loved playing over here. The galleries really know their golf,'' he said. ``The fans are really good here. I think for me to play decent golf is really making them happy too. That's what's really cool now. I've been playing good and having chances to win.''

This might not be the week for Daly to win again, however. He injured his hand at Hilton Head last month and was knocked out of a few events.

``I'm pretty rusty right now. But at least I'm fresh,'' he said.

The field includes U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen and 10 members of the European Ryder Cup team.

Also in the field is Justin Rose, the 21-year-old Englishman who won his third title of the year at the Chunichi Crowns in Japan last Sunday.

Daly added that he has not given up hope of one day playing in the Ryder Cup.

``I don't think I'll ever be picked. I'd love to play but I'm going to have to play my way onto the team,'' he said. ``It would be great to play -- not only to represent the U.S. but to be part of it.''

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