What happens when rednecks start playing golf.

Daly grew up in Dardanelle, AR, where his dad started feeding him beer at age 3 to shut him up. He went to the University of Arkansas, and was one of those rowdy boys who thought it was funny to do stuff like squirt lighter fluid under someone's dorm room door and set it on fire.

He continued to drink heavily, but managed to make it onto the PGA Tour in 1991. When a more established golfer dropped out of the PGA Championship that year, Daly was called as an alternate. When he won this major as a rookie, the golf world was all atumble to hail him as the new folk hero for their stodgy sport.

That all sounded well and good, but little did the PGA Tour know what they were buying when they got the full package that was John Daly. His pregnant girlfriend would show up at tournaments, and the joke in the locker room was, "Does she have on shoes today?"

Drunken brawls in hotel rooms, putting his foot through the TV and his fist through his redneck gal's face, screaming at folks in airports, etc. These sorts of incidents led to his suspension from the Tour for a while, and also led the PGA to wish they'd never heard of this bullet-headed badass from Nowhere, USA.

Then, just as you thought he might go away and get a double wide and a twelve-pack, he up and wins the British Open in 1995. And here we go again. New folk hero makes awesome comeback. He even promises to give up drinking as part of a deal with the folks at Callaway (a family with their own black sheep, it seems). Several TV interviews follow where Daly decries the demon rum and tells how "together" he is now, even though by this time he's married another little redneck girl and she, too, is fed up with his dumb ass.

So, in 1999 he says that he's going to quit trying to quit drinking and just try not to get drunk. Of course, he owes so much in gambling debts by this time that there's no way he'll ever see black on his accountant's balance sheet again.

Daly found it hard to make a cut during 2000, but seems to have found some of his groove back in 2001. He will typically be in the hunt and then fire a 12 on a par 4 on Sunday to take himself out of the running. But, as I write this, he's 75th on the money list for the year, and may even win a tournament again this year, as long as Tiger Woods isn't in it.

Here is what bothers me the most about John Daly from just a pure golfing standpoint. His style of play, which he calls "grip it and rip it," is ruining the backs of many hackers all around the world. And it will ruin his back before too long, as well. I know this from experience. I was swinging the golf club like Daly when he was still crapping in his pants. (And I don't mean from being drunk.) I could not tell you how many instructors I've had who said something along the lines of, "You've GOT to be seeing that clubhead out of the corner of your left eye on the backswing, eh?"

There is a point in the backswing of a golf club where the club becomes parallel to the ground, and this is as far back as any sensible golfer will swing. Golf pros call going past this point "crossing the line." In fact, it is probably true that any takeaway that goes beyond this point accomplishes nothing, and only adds degree of difficulty. You have to hand it to Daly: It takes some hellacious hand-eye coordination to get that clubhead back to square at impact after swinging it around to where the shaft damn near touches his nose. It is probably true for Daly, as it was with me, that he could hit it just as far with a correct golf swing as he does with the one he's using. However, it's like drinking: Once you start, it's really hard to quit.

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