With wife in jail, distracted Daly plays on

By John Reger
SportsTicker Contributing Writer

PALM DESERT, California (Ticker) - No matter where John Daly goes he is adored by the public, but in the first round of the $5.1 Buick Invitational, Daly needed the fans just a little bit more than usual.

The popular, long-driving Daly, learned Wednesday that his wife, Sherrie Miller Daly, had to report to prison after being found guilty on a federal charge of conspiracy.

It was alleged that Daly’s wife was involved in a drug ring and illegal gambling operation. Miller-Daly’s parents, Alvis and Billie Miller, also received jail time.

Daly found out Wednesday about his wife having to report to the Federal Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky and didn’t have time to go back to see his wife.

“I couldn’t get there in time to get her there,” Daly said. “That was the tough thing. If I had known two or three weeks ago, I wouldn’t be here. There’s nothing I could do. It put us in a very awkward spot, especially when you have kids.”

Daly didn’t understand why his wife had to report immediately.

“It was very tacky on the prosecuting attorney,” Daly said. “Usually you get two or three weeks to get prepared. He must not have kids. He’s not a very nice guy anyway.”

Despite the crisis in his life, Daly played the first round of the Buick Invitational impressively. He shot a 3-under-par 69 on the South Course, the third best round of the day on the course that will host the 2008 U.S. Open.

Daly began the day with three consecutive birdies. His first approach shot of the tour season he put to three feet of the hole. The next hole he made an eight-footer for a birdie. On the third hole, a par-3, he hit his tee shot to seven feet and made the putt.

Still it was hard to concentrate.

“You don’t,” Daly said when asked how you block out the news of his wife. “I am just out here. Yesterday was very emotional, she had all her friends and they took her and that helped. It was out of the clear blue, usually you get two to three weeks. I think it was very sad on the prosecuting attorney’s part.”

Daly was never a part of the investigation, cleared by federal authorities who were convinced he knew nothing of the crimes, but it has affected Daly greatly. The usual joy that would be natural after taming the always difficult South Course was gone, replaced with a somber voice and a deep concern for his two children.

Daly has been married four times and has four children. His two youngest, Austin, 5, and John, 2, have been living with Daly and he had to find people to care for them. Family friends will be watching Austin, while John will join Daly on the road.

“They are doing good,” Daly said of his sons. “I am going to have little John next week and I talked to Austin yesterday.”

Daly’s wife is scheduled to be released the third week of June and he said his schedule will be affected while his wife is in prison.

Daly’s life has always been chaotic at best and he has had his share of incidents on and off the golf course. But recently Daly had found peace and was working on getting his game back to where it was when he won two major championships.

In 2004, Daly won this event in a playoff. It was his first victory since the 1995 British Open. Daly’s goals were to get back to the Masters and make the Ryder Cup team.

Last year Daly didn’t win, but he finished second twice, including a loss at the WGC American Express Championship at Harding Park in San Francisco to Tiger Woods on the second hole of a playoff. His other second-place finish was a playoff loss to Vijay Singh at the Houston Open.

After his first round at Torrey Pines, Daly signed autographs for the crowd, who shouted his name and gave him words of encouragement.