Daly has focus.
The majors. The fame. The booze. The pills. The gambling. The comebacks. The setbacks. The failed relationships. Theyre all a part of Dalys well-publicized past.
However, the 35-year-old isnt dwelling on what was, or what could have been. Hes focused on the present, and what the future may bring.
It's nice to worry about playing golf and not all the other stuff,' Daly said Wednesday.
Daly is a work in progress ' always has been. Hes a late bloomer. And hes just now starting to get it. He now knows what he wants and how to go about achieving it.
Despite finishing 2000 ranked 188th on the PGA Tour money list, Daly started to show a little promise at the end of the season, making four straight cuts.
That bit of consistency led to an increase in confidence, and that confidence helped spark a fire.
I was pissed, said Daly when he learned he was ranked outside the top 500 in the Official World Golf Ranking at the start of the 2001 season.
I couldn't believe I was 506th in the world, even though I hadn't played good,' he said. 'I thought, 'As a two-time major champion, why am I 506th in the world?''
What Daly didnt know ' or, more precisely, chose to ignore ' was that where you play helps determine how many rankings points you earn.
'A prime example of the world rankings, I played Loch Lomond last year - the same (week the) tournament in Milwaukee was going on,' he said. 'The points counted more for Loch Lomond than they did in Milwaukee. So I was kind of searching for where would best fit my schedule and get the most points if I do play good.'
Knowing where to play was half the process; he next had to perform. And, in order to get the desired results, he had to rededicate himself to the game.
Daly lives in Dardanelle, Ark., a small town 45 miles west of the relative metropolis that is Little Rock.
We've got a WalMart and McDonald's, what more do you need?' joked Daly.
He plays out of Bay Ridge, where everybody knows everybody and 'we don't care what you wear.'
He loved the down-home atmosphere of his club, but he needed something even more private ' a place where he could practice on a whim. As a result, Daly had a practice green installed at his house. He was able to work on all aspects of his short game ' from his putting to his short-iron approach shots.
It's helped a lot, being able to practice on my own,' he said. 'Just being able to hit wedge shots for hours and hours...and the little artificial green I got is just like the greens we putt on (on tour).'
His itinerary was set and his game was finding its form, now John just had to get his mind right. He dropped the medication that made him a walking zombie for two years.
My mind just told me to quit listening to everybody and just do what I feel is right,' Daly said. 'And the medication was the biggest thing. That was the greatest thing I ever did. It was the smartest move I ever made - getting off that crap.'
Daly began his 2001 ascent up the world-ranking ladder with a tie for eighth in the Phoenix Open. He then tied for 11th in the Honda Classic.
He finally broke through in the European Tours BMW International Open for his first victory since the 1995 British Open.
For the year, Daly earned seven top-10s, including a trio of top-threes in four European starts. He began this season ranked 51st in the world.
'I just want to keep moving up,' he said
Thus far, Dalys made three starts in 2002. He tied for fourth in Phoenix and tied for 31st at the Bob Hope. He tied for 39th last week at the Heineken Classic ' a co-sanctioned European Tour event ' in Australia.
Daly is now a two-tour player. He applied for membership on the European Tour, which requires him to play in 11 sanctioned events. Its not as hard as it might sound. The four majors and the three World Golf Championship events count towared the 11, leaving him only four more events to play.
Daly plays quite well overseas, as evidenced by his record last year. He also knows that certain European events have better fields than their American counterparts, which leads to more rankings points.
Daly plans to play in the Benson & Hedges International May 9-12 (held opposite the Byron Nelson Classic); Loch Lomond July 11-14 (opposite the Greater Milwaukee Open); the BMW International Aug. 29-Sept. 1 (opposite the Air Canada Championship) and the Linde German Masters Sept. 12-15 (opposite the Pennsylvania Classic).
Though hes won recently in Europe, Daly still yearns for another stateside triumph. His last official U.S. victory was the 1994 BellSouth Classic.
Perhaps this week on the elongated South Course at Torrey Pines?
'As long as I hit a lot of greens and don't get impatient, because the balls will bounce a little bit,' he said.
Aside from winning, Daly has another goal in his immediate future: maintaining his position inside the top 50 in the world ranking.
Daly is currently ranked 46th in world, with the top 50 following the Genuity Championship ' in three weeks ' qualifying for the Masters Tournament.
Daly has quite an affinity for Augusta National. Having won the PGA Championship (1991) and the British Open ' and having forgone any notion of ever winning the U.S. Open ' Daly believes the Masters is the last leg of his grand slam.
Augusta, with the length (added) now, is definitely a good advatage, with those greens the way they are. (Winning) is always going to be a goal,' he said.
John Daly now has focus. Hes seeing more clearly. The stupor he stumbled through for so many years is seemingly behind him.
'Everything in my life is great,' he said. 'It's been a long time coming.'