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PARTY'S OVER; US MASTERS WILD THING'S MONEY TROUBLE.

Byline: NEIL McLEMAN

JOHN DALY is in Augusta this week but not at the Masters.

Instead, just across the road from the exclusive country club which stages the first Major of the year, the former Open and USPGA champion is selling T-shirts and golf towels from his camper van to stave off the threat of bankruptcy.

Daly will return to pro golf at the Spanish Open later this month in better physical shape after losing three stones in two months following Fern Brittenstyle stomach-stapling surgery. But the Wild Thing's finances are still in a terrible state.

"I don't have one sponsor right now," admitted the 42- year-old, who finished third at the Masters in 1993.

"I'm on the verge of bankruptcy with the bad economy and the loss of sponsors. I don't want to go that route."

The world's No.783-ranked player's last remaining sponsor dropped him last year after he spent a night in jail in North Carolina after getting drunk outside a Hooters restaurant in an orange jumpsuit.

He then smashed a fan's camera during an appearance at the Australian Open.

The incidents were just the latest chapters in a crazy life featuring four divorces, two trips to alcohol rehab, huge gambling losses and suspensions.

The Southern boy from Arkansas has also released a Country and Western album which includes the song All My Exes Wear Rolexes.

Now he is seeking help from a psychologist - and hopes he will be a warning to others.

"I've always been down on talking to a shrink, but I'm not ashamed to say I'm doing that right now," Daly said.

"I've had so many things going on in my life I need it to help me. He's helped me settle on realistic goals. I've always expected too much out of myself and it's probably ruined my career. I always talk about the things in my life that have happened because it might help somebody.

"We all make mistakes, hell, everybody knows that. But most people are too embarrassed or too scared to admit them. I'm not, it's part of life." To prepare for his return to golf, Daly claims he is practicing hard and fighting fit.

In February, after ballooning to 20 stone, he had a silicone band fitted in his stomach and has since shrunk from XXXL to merely extra-large shirts.

He is on a highprotein diet and cutting down on his legendary beer intake.

"It takes me about an hour to drink one beer, just sipping on it," he said. "I drink a little bit, but not much." He has gone from grip it and rip it to in '96 grip it and sip it. Daly, who still smokes and drinks Diet Coke, has not won for five years now but remains the people's favourite.

The last time he competed in a Major, at the 2007 USPGA at Southern Hills, his galleries were bigger than Tiger Woods.

And he is doing a brisk business in Augusta this week with ordinary fans.

"I can't believe how much he's been embraced this week," said Daly's girlfriend Anna Cladakis.

"That, for me and for John, was important. After you've been practicing and losing weight and for everybody to come back and embrace him that really has helped John."

Daly says he is now ready to restart playing. "This time it's for me," he said. "I don't have to prove a lot any more. I've just got to prove stuff to myself." "I leave at the end of the month for Spain, then Italy, Ireland, Gleneagles.

"This is a fresh start for me, sure. It's what I do."

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BACK ON COURSE John Daly is returning to pro golf WINNER John Daly lifted the Claret Jug in '96
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 11, 2009
Words:625
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