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June 10, 2009
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: We want to welcome John Daly. His 18th appearance back here at the St. Jude Classic. I know it's one of your favorite stops. Maybe some opening comments about coming back and playing golf here.
JOHN DALY: I've lived here for almost 20 years, too. That helps.
But, no, I've always loved playing here. I've seen this golf course grow tremendously when they moved from bent to champions greens. The scores used to be really low. They moved into champions Bermuda, the course plays a lot harder. It's just a great venue.
It's for St. Jude. I've been there a few times. It's just the greatest cause you can do for any charity. It's sort of like Make a Wish. It's sad a lot of it's terminal, but hopefully one day there will be a cure for a lot of this stuff that happens to these children.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: We'll open it up to questions.
Q. (Question regarding John's state of conditioning.)
JOHN DALY: It's not from working out, I promise you. No, I cheated. I had a thing called LAP-BAND surgery. A lady down in Clearwater, Florida, her name is Tiffany Jessee, she does from about seven to 15 of these a week. It's a band that goes around where the food goes into your stomach and it tightens it. It restricts you from what you can eat. It's been a blessing for me.
Q. How much do you weigh?
JOHN DALY: I weighed in last week at 219. So I lost 61 pounds in three and a half months.
Q. What is your goal?
JOHN DALY: My goal is to get to 190. When I wanted to do this, I wanted to get back to about 190, 185.
Q. Talk about the weight loss, how it affected your golf swing. The time in Europe, did it help your game?
JOHN DALY: The swing got a little fast losing the weight, which is okay, because when me and Rick work, my biggest problem has always been my follow-through. I kind of lay back on it. I think a lot of it was the weight. But now my swing speed is a little faster. I can get through the ball a lot better, which creates hopefully more consistent shots.
When I went to Europe, it was great that I could go to Europe prepared with some weight loss, working on my game. I got to see Rick three times before I went over there. We worked tremendously on the putter. There's just some things that I'm a natural putter and I've lost some of that natural stroke that I used to have, but I still got the feel. Main thing for me is speed.
Europe's great. I enjoy Europe. The only thing I miss is I kind of missed the bus. It's kind of like a home for me. I've been using one for so long. Going in and out of hotels, packing, repacking for me is not much fun. Having to fly to the next tournament.
But I love the European Tour. The good thing about the flying from each tournament, you never really have over an hour and a half flight. I can deal with that. But I've enjoyed the European Tour.
Q. What prompted the surgery? Is this part of a makeover on a lot of different fronts in your life?
JOHN DALY: Well, I'm excited to say that my daughter, she turned 17 today, and I'm taking her in Tuesday next week to Dr. Jessee to do it. I did it for me for one, but I really wanted to do it for her as well.
It's just a technology that you don't have to go work out in the gym. You know, I get plenty of exercise walking. I'm not saying for people to get it done and think you're going to be able to sit on the couch and lose weight. That's humanly impossible. But what it is, it sets you a mark for like you've got to lose a certain amount of weight, 5 to 10 pounds, before you have the surgery, then you're on liquids I think for two or three weeks when you have the first surgery, then you can start eating food again.
But what it does, it just makes you lose weight. If you do eat too much or eat too fast, you will throw up. That's the only downfall of it. And the worst thing about it is, the worst pain that was in it, was the IV going in your arm before they do the surgery. There's no pain whatsoever.
I got out of surgery, 20-minute surgery, rested for 30 minutes, got out of recovery, got on the bus, drove to Daytona. The recovery is phenomenal. If you're a sports player, you do a lot of active stuff like golf, I had to wait a week before I could chip, then I was playing golf in 10 days. It's just phenomenal.
Q. The suspension now in the books, are you on double probation or do you have a clean slate going forward? Sounds like this time they got your attention and you're going to do everything within your power to make sure.
JOHN DALY: I looked at this time off, I hated to miss the three tournaments in Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Dubai. I always wanted to go back there. I decided, getting my John Daly Enterprises back on track, losing the weight, truly, truly finding out what's the best ball for me, what's the best clubs for me, working that way, turn it all just into a positive.
My goal is just to play golf and most importantly be prepared and not waste the time like I have in the past.
Q. Is this the ideal tournament for you to return to play, your home away from home, support of the fans?
JOHN DALY: Since I was overseas playing five weeks, I feel like I've got some competitive rounds under me. I had a good finish in Italy. If this was my first tournament back, period, I'd be a lot more nervous. I probably wouldn't have the confidence that I would need to play.
But I feel like there's parts of my game I got a lot of confidence. The putting is a little off, but I'm excited to be here. I've always loved this golf tournament. I've always loved the fans. That one year that me and Estes went head-to-head, they were calling the Hogs on some of the holes, it was just phenomenal. A lot of family and friends this week. Just everywhere I go the fans are great, so...
Q. With the suspension now over, do you see this as maybe your last shot to get back to where you were years and years ago? If there's any more problems, is this kind of your last shot to make it back?
JOHN DALY: I don't know about that. I mean, I know I'm 43. The SENIOR TOUR is ahead of me. I think losing the weight, preparing myself to play the way I know I can play. And if I don't play good, at least I know I gave myself the best opportunity, and that's all I can do. That's all any of us can do out here.
Q. Being from Little Rock, your fans have come out in force on the blogs there. Talk about what the fan support has been like for you. You played with Houston Nutt, talk about that.
JOHN DALY: Like I said, the fans are phenomenal. I'm excited to play with Coach. We've talked a lot. He's a Hog, in my opinion. I always root for Ole Miss. I love Texas Longhorns. Any time they play Arkansas, I'm going to root for the Hogs. Me and Coach are really, really good friends. We've had a saying my mom used to say to me all the time, Champions come from the heart. He put it up in the locker room at the University of Arkansas.
We're just really, really good friends. I've never played golf with him, though. The times that we tried, he was either doing camps or was too busy. It's gonna be exciting.
I got him some Loud Mouth clothes today. We got gray and red, Ole Miss colors. We'll all be matching out there today.
Q. Did you have to time to reassess where you were not just in your golf game but in your life in the time away, figuring out where you go from here? Seems like you're a little more settled now.
JOHN DALY: I just put everything into perspective, spent time with my kids, lose the weight. Rick Smith has been a blessing. He's kind of a feel coach, but he likes for you to hit a lot of golf balls when I'm with him. I have no problem with that. But he gets it to where I'm hitting them right. A lot of times I'll go practice by myself. You get complacent. You start maybe getting into some bad habits with the swing. It's just repetition needs to be good is what he tells me, not just something you do. Anybody can do repetition, but you got to know you're doing it right. To have his eyes to know that swing was a little flat, divot in front of the ball, divot in front of the ball, that's all I hear from him, I'm sick of it, but it's the truth. We've worked really hard.
He'll be out here today. I haven't seen him since I left for Europe. So I'm excited to see him, too.
Q. Do you see this at all as a last chance, given your age, how much time you were off? Not that you're old, I'm just suggesting you're not 20 anymore.
JOHN DALY: Yeah, I mean, I don't know what a last chance really is. Last chance to me is when you're six feet under. I love this game. I really do. I know deep down in my heart I may never be the No. 1 player in the world, but I know that I love golf and I love to compete. And the satisfaction of having that opportunity, knowing I'm prepared to play, I've never been able to see what my best potential is.
I've told you all before, I've wasted a lot of years. I enjoyed doing it, but I see these guys work and work and work, and that's what I need to do. I don't think I need to be a Vijay Singh or anything, but I need to work on some things that can make me better.
Golf is my life. I mean, it's the only thing I've been able to do to provide for my family, for myself. I just want to be more serious about it. I want to prepare myself more. I don't think it's a last chance. I think I'm giving myself a chance to be the best player that I can be, and to me that's all that matters.
Q. (No microphone.)
JOHN DALY: I don't know. Maybe. It's something that can't happen now, so it's not worth worrying about. I'm happy to go back. I enjoy playing both tours. I have gone overseas probably more than any American player. Each year I've always done seven to nine tournaments. I love the guys over there. I love our guys, too. To have a chance to kind of play both tours is pretty neat, pretty cool. Now they got the Race to Dubai. I mean, everything's going good for them over there.
You know, the European tour, what we do over here is the cameras are tough. They don't secure that as well as we do. It's tough to hit a golf shot when a flash is going off on your downswing. I've paid the price for that at Honda that year. It pretty much put me out for quite a while. That's the one thing negative about the European Tour, is the cameras. Other than that, it's just as good as this. The money might not be as big, the tournaments being recognized might not be as big, but it's a great tour to play.
Q. (No microphone.)
JOHN DALY: We had a meeting. It wasn't anything like that. I was playing with Darren Clarke and Allenby. We all told that same guy enough is enough. The tough part was, I stopped a marshal from flashing a camera on Allenby. You have a marshal holding up a sign with no cameras or cell phones with a camera taking a picture of Robert Allenby. You tell me what makes sense. Those cloudy days, that's what it's the worst.
But we had warned that guy I think nine or 10 times, I don't know how many times. I don't know why he did what he did. I don't know if y'all ever saw the picture, it wasn't much, but it was this far from my eyes. It blindsided me.
If it had been anybody else that we didn't know or we hadn't warned, it probably would have been okay. But he knew. He'd been warned. There was nothing that ever come of it. I know he sold it on eBay, made him some money. That's fine with me. I don't care.
But, no, it was rude. It was rude is what it was.
Q. What was your first thought when Loud Mouth approached you?
JOHN DALY: Well, I've known Larry Jackson for a lot of years. He was out and about. I was playing Bel Aire Country Club. He was kind of driving around, came and saw me. The next day we had a meeting. I thought he was going to come over and talk and see how things were going, if I needed anything. He goes, I got these pants and these shirts, you want to wear them? Well, nobody else is throwing anything free to me right now. I said, Yeah, let me look at them.
My first impression was, yeah, they are loud and they're bright. But they feel comfortable and they're good quality pants. You know, you go back in the '60s, '70s and '80, it's not a lot different than what those guys wore. We're having a blast with it. We're hopefully selling a ton of 'em.
Q. Without getting into the particulars, there was an interesting column in the local paper today involving your wife. What is it like to have your life played out in such a public fashion?
JOHN DALY: I don't know. You know, it's just what it is. There's a lot of good things go with it, and some bad do. Just got to get over the bad stuff, just try and concentrate on the positives.
Q. It sounds like you've come to understand none of this is a certainty for any of you guys out here; it's time to knuckle down and kick ass while you still can.
JOHN DALY: Yeah, I mean, it went in spurts. Seemed like when the majors come around, I would really work hard. When you have a 10-year exemption out here, you win another, you get another 10-year, you think you're going to be out here for life. I took that for granted. I didn't take all the golf tournaments as serious as I should have.
It's kind of like I don't know if you guys know Thomas Innison (phonetic), used to be the linebacker for the Cowboys, he said he'll never know how good he could have been. That kind of sticks with me a lot.
But the good news is I can still salvage a great career. I've had a great career. I'm not going to down my career. It's been hell. There's no doubt about it. But when I was 16 and 17 years old, wanting to be on the TOUR, if I'd have told myself, if I knew I was going to win two majors, would I have taken that? I think at 17 years old you'd take just being able to play in a major good enough.
When you put it all in perspective, the bigger the tournament was, the harder I worked. It's like Vijay is telling me, The practice could pay off six months down the road, it could pay off a week down the road, it could pay off a year down the road. But sooner or later, like what Goose told me yesterday, sooner or later it going to pay off.
Q. I noticed you and Tim Herron shared a hug and a couple words on the practice green. Talk about how your colleagues on TOUR have accepted you coming back.
JOHN DALY: Robert Gamez and Lumpy were the first two people to call me when all the stuff went down, seeing if I was okay. Pat Perez called me. Petrovic has been really cool. But all the guys. Jerry Kelly was funny, came up and talked to me yesterday, a bunch of other guys. It's great. The European guys are the same way. They were happy to see me back.
It's great to hear the guys say, the European guys, say I'm great for their tour, and the guys here say I'm great for our TOUR.
Q. Are you going to wait this long to play with Bobby Petrino?
JOHN DALY: I don't know if coach plays golf. I'd play with him any day, if he wanted to.
Q. Did you think the suspension was warranted?
JOHN DALY: All I can say is I'm so happy I prepared myself in a positive way during the suspension. I could have taken it to a negative extreme and blamed this and blamed that. But it was time, Hey, let's lose some weight. Chance to spend some more time with my children, go practice, work with Rick. I did everything in a positive way to be prepared to play on the European Tour and here.
I think it was actually good for me.
Q. What is your schedule from here, given your limited status?
JOHN DALY: I'm going to go back to Europe for four. I'll play the BMW, the French, Scottish and British. I know I'm in Flint. I'm hoping to play at Glen Abbey, which is one of my favorite golf courses in Canada. I'd love to play there. It's going to be a six-week -- I'll be on the road for six weeks, which I'm fine with it.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Good luck this week. Appreciate you coming in.
End of FastScripts