England's Nick Dougherty is giving up the girls and the glam for a shot at No. 1

England’s Nick Dougherty is giving up the girls and the glam for a shot at No. 1


When you turned pro in 2001, you were a bit of a wild child. Did that hurt your development as a player?

There’s not a kid who can say they partied as much as me. I was living the life of a 19-year-old. You know, booze, birds and plenty of cash. When you’re 19, you think you’re indestructible. I don’t regret it. I might have if I had kept doing it. But it’s over now. It was obvious it wasn’t helping my golf.

The buzz around you seemed to fizzle, too.

Yeah, people weren’t talking about me any more. You know, Luke Donald and I had great amateur careers and turned pro together, and I should have been playing Ryder Cups like Luke. But it took me until the third year to realize I was wasting my life. Now I don’t even have a single drink at a tournament.

Do you have the game to win a major?

I would love to win a major, but that’s not what drives me. It’s to be World No. 1. Even just for one week. Vijay overtook Tiger and someone will do it again. It would be nice to take it off Tiger rather than off the player who takes it off him.

That’s no small chore.

Tiger is the best sportsman who ever lived, and that includes Muhammad Ali and Pele. You won’t beat him many times, but when you do beat him, it’s hugely rewarding.

What’s something American golf fans might not know about you?

I love musicals. I listen to all that Andrew Lloyd Webber stuff. I’ve seen Phantom [of the Opera] seven times.

Since you’ve given up the late nights, what do you do for fun?

I am a bit of an adrenaline junkie. I went to a driving school in the UK recently and was driving Audi S6s with beefed-up engines. That was proper driving. You can’t drive fast in the UK anymore because it seems there are police speed cameras every 100 yards. My dad has always said that you should do something each day that scares you. I think that’s a good philosophy. You get a lot more out of it that way. I don’t want to get to the end of my life and think, “I wish I’d bloody done that.”