By FUZZY ZOELLER, longtime friend
I'm a father figure to J.D. He's one of the most talented players ever the first guy who had brute strength off the tee and imagination around the greens. That length! We're partners at the Shark Shootout one year, on a par-5. There's a creek about 320 [yards] out. He says, 'I'm taking it over the creek.' 'Yeah, sure you are.' I lost the ball off the clubface, he hit it so hard. My eyes couldn't follow. He cleared the creek by 20 yards. We had 9-iron in. The kids today have power, but he was the first.
It's a shame to see that talent wasted. I've talked to him until I'm blue in the face. I've seen him hit bottom. At Sawgrass [in 1997], his wife called me from his hotel at 1 a.m. to get him to the hospital. He'd been drinking and having chest pains. I've never seen him more down the tubes. He bounced back. But can a leopard change its spots? I don't know. He has to prove he's changed. He thinks the whole world is against him, but we're all pulling for him. You can't do it by yourself. Hopefully, he's found love [with girlfriend Anna]. Everyone needs to be loved. I love him. We'll all support him until he does wrong again. Then, we'll shut the doors on him.
Big John he makes me laugh, he makes me cry.