Golf: Daly deals in new currency

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The Independent Online
WINNING the $4million (pounds 2.5m) US Players Championship on Sunday would be nice for John Daly, but not as thrilling as receiving a coin marking one year of being sober at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting on Saturday night.

"That will be like winning a third major for me, the biggest trophy I could ever win," said the former Open and USPGA champion.

Daly quit the tournament a year ago after ending up in hospital following a drunken rage in which he destroyed his hotel room. "I'm just happy to be here," Daly said of his return to the TPC of Sawgrass.

"I'm not worried about what happened last year, I can't remember most of it. It would be very special to win this week, but every day I stay sober I feel like I'm winning. I'm beating demons every day but there has always been an angel on my shoulder looking after me. What I've done is a miracle." Daly has received several other coins from fellow sufferers and now uses them as ball-markers. "Last time I tried to stay sober I didn't go to any meetings but now I can't live without the support I get from everyone else who suffers from this disease.

"I know, if I want, I can buy my death by going to a liquor store. But now I'd rather go to meetings and talk honestly with other people who know what I'm going through.

"Last year I was a walking drunk, I didn't know where I was going and what I was doing. Now I have got a grip on my life. My golf is decent and my life outside golf is good. When I had a bad round I used to dwell on it, now I don't care how I play as long as I stay sober."

Daly's form is such that he is being considered as a serious contender at the Masters in two weeks' time. He has won more money so far this season than in the past two years, and is second in the putting statistics as well as heading the driving distance table as usual. "I'll worry about Augusta when it comes," Daly said. "My decision last year not to go was one of the best I've ever made. I gave myself the chance to play in a lot more Masters."

Even going in the water six times and taking 18 - 13 over par - at one hole last week at the Bay Hill Invitational has not diminished his confidence. "Before I would probably have knocked it in the water deliberately. But I was really trying to get over and what made me mad was missing by inches.It was the first time I've lost patience this year.

"After it was said and done, it was pretty funny. The funniest thing was on the green when I had a 30-footer for a 17 and Tom Watson said: 'Knock it in, John.' Tom said that we've all done it but that he would have bailed out a little earlier."

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