John Daly, 43, in Tampa, Fla.
Ben Van Hook
Monday, August 03, 2009

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.

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