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Arkansas’s golfing hero bares all.

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My Life In and Out of the Rough
By John Daly, with Glen Waggoner, Harper Collins, hard cover, $25.



John Daly notes this, in case you haven’t: He no longer leads the PGA tour in driving distance – there are other maulers who send the golf ball flying even farther than the fellow from Dardanelle – yet, the crowds still follow Daly en masse, not those other guys. Hank Kuehne, Bubba Watson, J.P. Holmes, they may be big hitters, may be the game’s biggest hitters now, but they’re hardly the big deal compared to Daly.

And, the question is, in light of all the rough parts in Daly’s life these past 15 years since he arrived on the scene winning the PGA Championship: Why is that?

Maybe after reading this book, you’ll get more of an idea why.

Because, yes, you’ll hear pretty close to all the stories you’ve heard about Daly before, and it will be his version of those events. And, you’ll still scratch your head at why Daly is like he is –- how he can let himself continue to lose five-, six- and even seven-figure sums in one sitting in a casino, or how he can fill himself with 15 Diet Cokes a day, or smoke two packs of Marlboros a day, or feast at the McDonald’s drive-through. Or have yet another marriage go haplessly south on him.

(One reason his fourth and latest wife hasn’t made herself an ex-Mrs. Daly is that she’s been jailed along with her family for money laundering.)

Daly, at least from his perspective, leaves nothing out here. He details every wife he’s had, including the bedroom stories, and even a fun-loving nearly Mrs. Daly, a lovely named Leslie, that he shed to meet and wed his current wife. He says that fans should be able to tell when Daly’s getting it at home because that’s when he’s playing his best golf.

But a lot of the time, he’s an angry person -– angry at himself. He’s beaten up hotel rooms (but he insists he’s never beaten on a female companion). He’s been sent to rehab by the PGA, to avoid a suspension from the Tour, and he’s gone voluntarily. He grew up drinking Jack Daniel’s, sometimes a fifth a day in college as part of the Daly Diet to lose 65 pounds for an overly demanding college golf coach, but he’s through with the whiskey these days. He hates the smell.

Likes beer, though. Miller Lite, mostly. And he’ll drink however much he wants, thank you very much.

He says that sober he believes he’s a genuinely good person, believes in doing good things for people, and that comes though in the words and deeds that are related, and have been elsewhere.

Daly details his highest moments –- winning the PGA Championship in 1991 and the British Open in 1995 –- in ways a golf fan or sports fan will love; but anyone, especially lovers of good soap operas, can enjoy this life story.

He’s an admitted redneck (and co-author Glen Waggoner from ESPN The Magazine lets Daly tell his story in typical Southern grammatically incorrect style, with the “Me and Paulette did this” and “Me and Bettye did that” delivery). If Waggoner (or some bad copyeditor) did anything other than let the tape run and type Daly’s ramblings verbatim, it was to err and place Tunica, Miss., on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, or turn the University of Arkansas’s “Woo Pig Sooie” hog call into “Oooooo, Pig Sooie.” Oh well.

Daly leaves out a couple of stories we’ve actually been in the room for, and one that some good friends were present for, but there’s plenty here to entertain nonetheless.

He could have titled it “All My Exes Wear Rolexes” like the country song he sings on his own CD, fracturing the title of George Strait’s great hit, but “My Life In and Out of the Rough” is most apropos. It’s subtitled “The Truth Behind All That Bull**** You Think You Know About Me.”

Sure, it’s his version. Maybe those ex-wives can tell their own juicy tales, too. But, in the end, it seems as honest an account as one could expect from a professional athlete, an Arkansas hero, and a guy who can draw thousands upon thousands of fans every time he shows up on a golf course, even if he proceeds to shoot a hacker’s 87 and drowns five balls in a lake on one hole.

That’s our John. He takes a mighty big swing, then thinks about it later. But he’s given this one a lot of thought, and it’s straight down the fairway.

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