Daly takes leave from rest of golf season


'TC LAKE MANASSAS, Va. -- PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem announced yesterday that troubled star John Daly has volunteered to take off the remainder of the 1994 season and likely would resume his roller-coaster career at the Mercedes Tournament of Champions in early January.

The announcement follows last month's incident at the World Series of Golf, when Daly was involved in an altercation with the father of club pro Jeff Roth after the final round, during which Daly hit several shots into Roth's group and got into an X-rated shouting match with the player's mother.

Finchem said there was no indication that Daly's latest troubles stem from substance abuse, which the 28-year-old golfer has been treated for in the past. It marks the third time in Daly's four-year career that he has left the tour for an extended period of time.

The first time, at the beginning of the 1992 season, came after Daly was charged with assaulting his former wife, Bettye, and at the urging of former tour commissioner Deane Beman, checked into a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Tucson, Ariz. At the end of the 1993 season, Daly was suspended for three months after picking up his ball in the middle of a tournament in Hawaii.

"I am pleased that he is trying to make an effort to perform credibly and properly on the PGA Tour," Finchem said at a hastily called news conference at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club during the opening day of the Presidents Cup.

Finchem said that the PGA Tour staff will work to help Daly return to the tour early next year.

"We view John Daly as a strong potential asset to the game of golf," said Finchem.

"Anyone who plays the game must be prepared physically and must be prepared mentally. We wish John well in his efforts. . . . We want to explore any kind of assistance in response to both his physical and mental state."

Since his meteoric rise from obscurity to victory in the 1991 PGA Championship at Crooked Stick, Daly's career has been one of peaks and valleys. After winning again at the 1992 B.C. Open, Daly's off-course problems contributed to a disappointing 1993, when he slumped to 76th on the money list and had only one Top 10 finish (third at the Masters).

Daly seemed to rebound earlier this year, when he came from behind to win the BellSouth Classic. But in the 10 tournaments since, Daly has missed the cut four times, withdrew from the New England Classic and was disqualified for signing an incorrect score card at the Canon Greater Hartford Open. He is 41st on the money list with $340,034. He was disqualified from last year's Kemper Open after failing to sign his card.

Finchem said that some of Daly's problems are attributable to a back condition that flared up at this year's British Open. How this will affect his marketability remains to be seen. Daly recently signed a reported $30 million deal with Wilson Sporting Goods.

Daly could not be reached for comment. He reportedly was in Fayetteville, Ark., last night to be inducted into the University of Arkansas Razorback Hall of Honor.

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