John Daly says he has lost between $50 million and $60 million during 12 years of heavy gambling, and that it has become a problem that could "flat-out ruin me" if he doesn't bring it under control.
Daly discussed his addiction to gambling in the final chapter of his autobiography, "John Daly: My Life In and Out of the Rough," to be released next Monday.
He told one story of earning $750,000 when he lost in a playoff to Tiger Woods last fall in San Francisco at a World Golf Championship. Instead of going home, he drove to Las Vegas and says he lost $1.65 million in five hours playing mostly $5,000 slot machines.
"If I don't get control of my gambling, it's going to flat-out ruin me," he says in the book, co-written with Glen Waggoner and published by HarperCollins.
The book got the attention of PGA Tour headquarters, and commissioner Tim Finchem met with Daly on Monday at the Wachovia Championship in Charlotte, N.C.
Finchem said the book does not violate PGA Tour regulations, although "it is clear that he continues to be concerned about and grapple with significant personal challenges."
"I have expressed to John the tour's concern for his well-being, as well as his ongoing need to uphold the image and standards of the PGA Tour," Finchem said. "While we will continue to enforce the regulations and policies of the PGA Tour, I have advised John of the tour's willingness to support him in his efforts to deal with his personal issues."
The two-time major champion wrote that he has spent the last 10 years paying off gambling debts with his sponsorship income, hustling appearance money and "running myself ragged doing corporate outings instead of spending time with my family and working on my game."
He recalled former Dallas Cowboys linebacker Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson telling him at a Tucson, Ariz., rehab center in 1993 that Daly would find something he loves as much as drinking, and that he would have to be careful.
"The people around me ... were hoping, of course, that the 'something' would be practicing golf. No such luck," Daly wrote. "What I found was gambling."
He said he owed $4 million to casinos in two years of gambling until he won the 1995 British Open at St. Andrews, his second major. That victory and the ability to get handsome appearance fees, enabled him to pay off the debt.
But the gambling continued.
Daly three-putted from 15 feet on the second playoff hole against Woods at Harding Park. He headed to Las Vegas and lost $600,000 within 30 minutes. He said he took out another $600,000 line of credit and lost that in two hours.
"And here's how my sick mind analyzed the situation," Daly wrote. "My sponsorship payments would be coming through in January, so I'd be able to pay everything off and get back to even by the beginning of the new year. Everything's fine. Everything's OK. No problema. Hell, yes, there's a problema."
Daly says he has taken more control of his life in the last six years.
"I'm off those ... medications. I don't drink JD (Jack Daniels) anymore. I don't beat up on hotel rooms and cars as much. Only gambling remains a problem," he wrote.
He said he plans to start at the $25 slots in the casinos and set a "walkout loss number," which would tell him it's time to leave.
"If I make a little bit, then maybe I move up to the $100 slots or the $500 slots, or maybe I take it to the blackjack table," he wrote. "It's their money. Why not give it a shot, try to double it? And if I make a lot, I can ...
"Well, that's my plan."
Daly has been one of the most popular figures on the PGA Tour since he won the 1991 PGA Championship as the ninth alternate. He has five PGA Tour victories and career earnings of $8.7 million.
"Money won is twice as sweet as money earned"