Originally created 04/02/97

Daly withdraws from Masters



John Daly officially withdrew Tuesday from next week's Masters Tournament.

Daly, who entered the Betty Ford Clinic on Sunday, realized at least two months ago his experiment with "social drinking" had relapsed into alcoholism but want-

ed to play golf until after the Masters, his favorite event.

Daly's admission, made through his agent, John Mascatello, raised the question why the PGA Tour and those around Daly failed to act when he said in October he was drinking again after more than three years of sobriety.

"You take a drink, you don't get drunk and you con yourself into thinking you have it under control," said Dr. Allan Lans, who has worked with baseball players Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry for their substance abuse problems. "It is not an unusual situation at all."

Asked if a person in Daly's situation should resume drinking, Lans said: "Emphatically, unequivocally - no."

All pretense of Daly's return to alcohol being social ended Friday when he was rushed to a hospital with chest pains after a drinking session that resulted in a damaged hotel room and frantic phones calls from his wife.

For the second time in four years, Daly is in an alcohol rehabilitation program and maybe this time he realizes he has a very serious problem.

"John wanted to do this about two months ago but wanted to get through the Masters because it is his favorite event," Mascatello said.

Daly officially withdraw from next week's Masters via fax to the Augusta National Golf Club and Mascatello said a "probable timetable" for Daly's return would be the Kemper Open the first weekend of June.

"The commissioner has the latitude to converse with the player, fine him or offer some sort of suspension," PGA Tour spokesman David Lancer said. "When John said he was drinking again - just having a beer or two - we took a wait-and-see attitude."

The PGA Tour news release in October quoted Daly as saying: "It is true that I have had a few beers on several occasions this summer, but I have not been involved in any alcohol-related incidents."

The release quoted Mascatello as saying: "The thing we don't want is for this to be portrayed as John Daly falling off the wagon. John believes he can handle this."

Mascatello now says that was not an accurate expression of his feelings.

"He believed he could drink socially," Mascatello said. "I know that he is an alcoholic and, though I am not a doctor, my understanding is that he cannot drink."

Lans said it is important that alcoholics not be allowed to think they can drink again.

"Most people who relapse say they have it under control and initially they do," Lans said. "But of course they don't."

Daly telephoned reporter Bobby Hall for The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tenn., and said he might not play again if he can't control his drinking.

"I think it is certainly too early to say that or even to speculate on that," Mascatello said.

"There were three things that John wanted to set straight," Mascatello said. " One, that he didn't intentionally do any damage to the hotel room."

Police said he did about $1,000 damage to the room while drunk.

"Two, that he didn't harm his wife in any way," Mascatello said. "There were some rumors about that because of charges brought against him in the past."

Daly's former wife, Bettye, brought third-degree assault charges in a 1992 incident that led to his first alcoholism treatment. Daly later plead guilty to a lesser charge.

Daly's current wife, Paulette, called his agent and golfer Fuzzy Zoeller for help Friday morning, saying her husband was out of control.

"And three, that he is doing this now because he wants to do it and not because anyone else is making him," Mascatello said.

Participating in a structured aftercare program would be a major step forward for Daly.

"In the past, he never did the aftercare part," Lancer said. "If he does what he has to do, the tour will be supportive."