Devil Ball Golf - Golf

As one golf star falls, another rises.

For the past two decades, the name "John Daly" has been synonymous in golf circles with the kind of lifestyle better suited to country music than the soft piano tones you hear on every golf telecast. He could grip it and rip it better than anybody on Tour, and played his way into two majors, but off the course his life was one long speed down a dark highway with the lights off. 

Daly hit rock bottom around this time last year. He was found passed out outside a North Carolina Hooters, and later smashed a fan's camera while playing in Australia. The PGA Tour suspended him for six months, and it looked like the long, hard road of golf's most famous party animal was about to end in an ugly fashion.

But then Daly did something nobody would ever have expected -- and considering what he'd done in the past, that's saying something:

He cleaned up. And now he might be going Hollywood.

Daly, as the photos above indicate, has shed well over 100 pounds in the last year as a result of lap-band surgery, and he's now a slim, trim 185. He's talking about writing a new book, and at a press conference Tuesday prior to the Australian PGA, he noted that he'd also like to see a movie made of the insanity that has been his life, both on and off the course.

He's already thought about who would play him in the movie. He recommended pal Kevin James for the "before" version. And for the "after"? "I just saw Matt Damon, how he swung a golf club, and I thought if I ever made a movie, I want him to be me," Daly said.

"The problem is, who is going to play all the ex-wives?" Daly laughed. He has four ex-wives whom he immortalized in a song, "All My Exes Wear Rolexes."

Daly's in the middle of a yearlong redemption tour. In addition to playing well at the British Open -- he made the cut where Tiger Woods didn't -- he's now back in Coolum, Australia at the site of one of his most famous blowups.  In 2002, he carded a triple-bogey 7 on the 18th hole, then threw his ball and putter into the lake and stormed off without signing his scorecard, disqualifying himself from the tournament. He was fined nearly $6,000 by the Australasian PGA Tour and ordered to write an I'm-sorry letter.  It doesn't look like Daly will be producing those kinds of sparks this weekend, but that's probably for the best.

Daly may no longer have the biggest waistline on tour, but he's still -- sappy sports metaphor coming -- got one of the game's biggest hearts.  He donned pink pants in support of Phil Mickelson's wife Amy in her fight against breast cancer earlier this year. And Tuesday, he took a not-so-subtle shot at players like Jesper Parnevik who have criticized Woods for his alleged off-course behavior: "I'm not too happy with what some of the players have said. Without him our tour would not survive as what it is when Tiger plays."

Whether or not Woods returns any time soon, it looks like Daly is back to stay. And that's very good for golf indeed.

Prepare for a new John Daly book, then the movie? [AP via Yahoo! Sports]

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