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Uncertain future ahead for John Daly

Life has been a dramatic, fluctuating ride for big-hitting John Daly and there are no guarantees that next year will be any different.

The last 12 months have been particularly bruising for the American, both on and off the golf course, and he will start the 2007 PGA Tour without full playing privileges for the first time since 1991.

A spate of injuries cost him dearly on the 2006 Tour and he ended the season a career-low 193rd in the money list with earnings of $192,134 after just one top-25 finish in 21 starts.

He missed the last two events after breaking a finger in the opening round of last month's Las Vegas Championship, a few days before he filed for divorce from his fourth wife.

"It has been a tough year with the injuries and everything else that has gone on," Daly said during a teleconference this week.

"The injuries really hurt me in the middle of the season -- the hand, the back and the hip. It was one thing after another.

"It has been tough to play golf when the family is not with you. It has been one of those years where nothing has gone right."

Daly, who will have to rely on sponsors' exemptions to play on next year's Tour, said his injuries this season had impacted more negatively on his golf than his disrupted personal life.

"I am kind of just keeping the personal stuff to myself," the twice major winner added. "I think the injuries are what really hurt me this year.

"Not being able to play in a lot of tournaments that I really wanted to play in, having to withdraw from a lot of tournaments that I love to play in, tournaments where I usually do halfway decent in or have a chance to play real well.

"The injuries have killed me this year more than anything else."

Daly and his fourth wife Sherrie Miller filed for divorce four months after she had completed a prison sentence on federal charges involving an illegal gambling operation and a drug ring.

The alleged drug activities took place between 1996 and 2002, but the golfer has always said he had no knowledge of them.

Daly, who has spent most of his adult life struggling with alcohol, anti-depressants, gambling, binge eating and divorces, believes he has learned some harsh lessons.

"I have been through hell and I have made a lot of mistakes that I take full responsibility for," he said. "I have had some bad people in my life and I have luckily gotten rid of most of them.

"I am too trustworthy and I have just got to keep my guard up a little bit. I have learned over the years that you just cannot trust everybody and move on."

A prodigious driver of the golf ball with a magician's touch around the greens, Daly has been one of the biggest drawcards in the game since turning professional in 1987.

The Wild Thing, as he is popularly known, won the 1991 PGA Championship at Crooked Stick, after starting out as the ninth and final alternate, and the 1995 British Open at St Andrews

With his damaged hand already healed, Daly is optimistic next year will be much kinder to him.

He has already received a sponsor's invitation for the February 15-18 Nissan Open in Los Angeles.

"Next year is just going to be a great year, I just have a really good feeling about it," he said.

"I want to thank the Nissan and the LA Open for giving me that opportunity to come back there. I have always loved playing there.

"I have sent out all the letters (for sponsor's exemptions) and hopefully I can get answers from the tournaments a little quicker, like LA did, so I can get my schedule set for next year.

"It is a tough situation to be in but it is just going to make me work harder and hopefully play better."

November 9, 2006

 




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