- The Washington Times - Friday, March 14, 2008

John Daly is the drunk whose transgressions are often glossed over because of the perception that he somehow is a fun-loving drunk, although there is nothing fun or loveable about a golfer who has squandered his prodigious talent to booze.

That point was made anew earlier this week, when swing coach Butch Harmon announced he no longer was going to waste his time on the 41-year-old alcoholic.

“My whole goal for him was he’s got to show me golf is the most important thing in his life,” Harmon said. “And the most important thing in his life is getting drunk.”

Daly’s three ex-wives would be happy to tell his adoring public that living with a drunk hardly qualifies as a good time. Daly’s fourth wife would be happy to make that point as well if she were not busy attacking him with a steak knife, as Daly reported to police last summer.

This was after the two had filed for divorce, which has become so routine to Daly that perhaps he forgot or was too sauced to know that he was living with a woman he was divorcing and she was brandishing a steak knife.

But that is good old Daly, a man of the people, only he is not one of the commoners.

That is the white lie that gets tossed around because of Daly’s willingness to play the buffoon and drink with anyone who cares to pull up a seat next to him.

Daly is hardly one of the people because most people do not have the ability to be one of the best in the world in anything, much less in a game as challenging as golf.

Most people do not go through wives like Kleenex tissue. Most people do not burn through millions of dollars. Most people do not have to check themselves into alcohol-treatment centers every couple of years to dry out.

Daly has been a mess since joining the PGA Tour in 1991. He is the PGA equivalent of Britney Spears, only now he is bloated and old from a lifetime of excess.

He is a role model of what not to be, the point Mickey Mantle made before his death.

Mantle was a notorious drunk who realized much too late in life that his late-night carousing cost him greater glories on America’s ball fields.

Daly possibly will have his Mantle-like press conference one day. If so, he will testify to the life he surrendered to booze and to the waste he was. He will not be so glib after his body starts to rebel against the years of abuse.

For now, Daly mostly escapes the connection to Mantle and other sports figures who could not defeat their demons.

It is more fun to toast to the golfer who wears his foibles on his shirtsleeves. It is more fun to overlook all the pain he has caused to those closest to him, starting with his ex-wives and children.

Harmon decided to sever his ties to Daly after the good old boy spent nearly three hours in the Hooters corporate tent during a rain delay of the PODS Championship last week. When play resumed, Daly had Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden serve as his caddy. He shot a 77 and followed that up with an 80 to miss the cut.

“Jon Gruden caddying, I thought was ridiculous,” Harmon said. “I thought he made a circus out of the whole event.”

Daly never has taken himself or the game too seriously. Much of the public has found that attitude endearing in the country-club world of professional golf.

It is doubtful the public ever would have been so forgiving with Brett Favre, another good old boy who used to like to party until his wife gave him an ultimatum.

America does not normally embrace sports figures who waste their athletic gifts on alcohol, drugs or run-ins with the law.

Daly has managed to be the exception.

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