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John Patrick Daly was born April 28, 1966, in Carmichael, California and has become one of golf's most popular players.
The golf tour's longest driver won his first golf tour event in 1991, shocking the golf world by winning the PGA Championship. As a result, Daly gained endorsement deals worth almost $10 million and won the Tour's Rookie of the Year award, but he quickly proved that he wasn't ready for stardom, developing drinking and gambling problems.
Despite these difficulties, in July 1995, Daly was married again, to third wife Paulette, and sober when he won the British Open at St. Andrews in Scotland. The next summer, Daly was seen in public hugging a bottle and admitted to "social" drinking. His life took a downturn, with early withdrawals from tournaments, club throwing, bouts of depression, casino gambling that left him $2.6 million in debt, a trip to the hospital after a 10-hour drinking marathon, an on-course shaking episode in Vancouver on a summer day, lost endorsement deals, another wife filing for divorce, another trip to rehab.
Predictably, his golf game plummeted, too. Daly missed 11 cuts in 22 Tour events in 1999 and missed 16 in 26 the following year when he ranked 188th and had $115,460 in winnings. In late 2000, he again stopped drinking, and enjoyed a comeback in 2001, placing 61st on the Tour money-earnings list with a career-high $828,914. He gained his first victory in six years, winning the BMW International in Germany in September.
In 2002, he won his 11th PGA Tour driving distance title and eighth straight, averaging 306.8 yards. His brilliance flashed on rare occasions, such as the 1995 British Open, when as a 66-1 betting underdog he won his second Grand Slam title, beating Constantino Rocca in a playoff. Through May 2003, he had won just four Tour events, none in the previous eight years, and had captured three world tournaments.
Daly estimates that he has wagered about $100 million gambling through the '90s, winning only $80 million back. He once played $400,000 on one blackjack hand.
"I just hit it hard as I can," Daly said, "and if I find the ball, I hit it again."