Daly gets help for 'disease'

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The life and turbulent times of John Daly took another bitter twist when the American yesterday volunteered to go back into rehabilitation to conquer his battle against alcoholism. Daly left here early on Friday after reported rowdy behaviour at both a local nightspot and his hotel, officially withdrawing from the US Players Championship with a sore hip.

"As part of my ongoing battle to overcome alcoholism, I have decided to immediately enter the Betty Ford Alcohol Rehabilitation Program," said Daly, whose last stay there at the start of 1993 came after he was charged with third-degree assault on then-wife Bettye Fulford on the previous New Year's Eve. Despite two more so-called "voluntary" suspensions in '93 and '94, a reformed Daly returned to win the Open in 1995.

But Daly, 30, lost his battle to stay sober last summer and his performances have become increasingly erratic. He has had only two top-10 finishes since winning at St Andrews. On Thursday night, three members of the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL team were seen buying Daly drinks in a bar called Sloppy Joe's. Daly's hotel room was later trashed and the police called although no action was taken.

"In August of 1996, I suffered a setback in dealing with my disease," Daly's statement continued. "Until that time, I felt I had won the battle alone by simply stopping the act of drinking.

"I've come to realise this terrible disease is much tougher than I thought and have decided with the support of my family and friends to let others help me."

Ironically, this latest incident comes at a time when Daly's profile has been eclipsed by the arrival on the scene of Tiger Woods. In yesterday's fourth round of the Players Championship, Woods, who will start as one of the favourites for next week's US Masters, was paired with the defending Augusta champion, Nick Faldo.

Starting the day on level par, 13 strokes behind 54-hole leader Steve Elkington, Faldo immediately saw an improvement in his putting fortunes when he holed from 20 feet for a par at the first. Faldo had the advantage off the tee at the next because Woods's tee shot was caught by a tree and Faldo chipped and putted for a birdie, then holed from eight and 20 feet at the sixth and seventh. Another birdie at the par-five ninth saw him out in 32.

But a pulled tee shot into water at the short 13th meant a double bogey and Faldo three-putted the next and suffered another bogey at the 16th when he advanced a chip from the rough only five feet. "The tee shot on 13 killed my momentum," Faldo, whose 72 beat Woods by a shot, said. "It didn't matter. The bottom line is it was just a 72. My putting was not bad. I worked on a few things but I've got to keep working on my putting for a week's time."

Faldo and Woods chatted a little early in the round and Woods was clearly impressed by the experience of playing with Faldo. "Obviously, he is the best player in the world," Woods said, although he would not elaborate. Woods added: "He wasn't too talkative at the end." Faldo did not linger long enough to offer an opinion on Woods. Earlier in the week, asked about Woods's presence on tour, Faldo replied: "He hasn't given me any presents."

Sandy Lyle continued his demise after an opening 68 with a final round 80, during which his driver snapped at the 14th hole. Given that he wanted to break it over his head on Saturday, he was not unhappy about the mishap.

PLAYERS' CHAMPIONSHIP (Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla Early final-round scores (US unless stated): 285 F Couples 71 74 71 69. 287 C Parry (Aus) 71 67 80 69. 288 N Faldo (GB) 71 72 73 72, D Martin 72 71 75 70; N Price (Zimb) 75 68 74 71. 289 B Langer (Ger) 71 73 75 70; J Sindelar 71 73 73 72; R Fehr 74 67 75 73, T Woods 71 73 72 73. 290 L Janzen 73 73 74 70; P Jordan 72 74 73 71; N Henke 72 73 73 72. 291 J Haas 69 76 74 73; D Duval 74 69 74 74; D Waldorf 71 72 73 75; C Rocca (It) 74 69 73 75. 292 P Jacobsen 75 71 73 73. 293 D Stockton Jnr 68 71 77 77, H Sutton 70 71 74 78; M Ozaki (Japan) 70 76 71 76. 294 T Watson 70 71 79 74; R Damron 69 72 78 75; P Blackmar 71 74 74 75; A Magee 71 71 76 76; T Smith 68 73 76 77; G Morgan 71 72 73 78, G Norman (Aus) 71 72 72 79. 295 G Day 70 72 76 77. 296 M Reid 71 74 74 77; M Hulbert 70 71 77 78; J D Blake 73 73 73 79. 297 S Lowery 73 72 74 78; S Gump 71 75 72 79; N Ozaki (Japan) 68 74 74 81. 298 J Huston 72 70 77 79; D Pooley 71 74 71 82. 299 M O'Meara 73 72 76 78; J Gallagher 72 74 75 78; S Lyle (GB) 68 74 77 80. 301 M Brisky 71 71 80 79. 302 J Wilson 70 74 79 79. 304 L Rinker 74 72 77 81.

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