2001: PGA European Tour - Daly makes triumphant return

Munich, Germany

John Daly’s victory Sept. 2 came in the BMW International Open, but it is as much a triumph in dedication, discipline and steadfast belief.

“I’m sure a lot of people gave up on me, but I hadn’t,” said Daly, who won for the first time in six turbulent years. “I’m a fighter.”

The victory came on the same continent as Daly’s last win, and although the BMW can’t match the British Open in prestige, it might be more important to Daly.

When he tied for third earlier this summer at Loch Lomond, he said his next victory would be the greatest of his career.

In the last six years, Daly had played 151 events on the PGA Tour and PGA European Tour without winning, and at times it looked as though he might never get his game – or his life – in shape again.

Since winning the 1995 British Open for his second major championship, his third marriage crumbled and he broke off a two-year relationship this summer, only to marry for the fourth time a month later.

“I have a great wife, a great family and friends I trust with my life,” he said. “But this one I did by myself.”

Daly received a bottle of champagne for winning and he gave it to journalists. Daly says he has substituted his once ravenous appetite for drinking with a passion for playing good golf.

Tied with Padraig Harrington going to the 72nd hole Sunday, Daly took advantage of his power with a massive drive that set up an easy birdie and his first victory since winning at St. Andrews in 1995.

It was one of the strongest performances of Daly’s career, capped by a 6-under 66 that enabled him to tie a European Tour record of 261 set by Jerry Anderson in the 1984 European Masters. Daly shot 63-64-68 in the first three rounds.

Harrington, who had a one-stroke lead over Daly going into the final round, tried to reach the par-5 18th hole with his second shot. Instead, his 3-wood went into the water and he had to get up-and-down for par.

Daly was just off the green, chipped to 2 feet and tapped in for birdie to claim the $272,610 first prize, the largest paycheck of his career.

“It’s been six long years and it just feels good to win again,” Daly said. “I think 1999 was probably the low point. . . . I had to decide whether to keep going forward or do something else.

“It was a very short thought because I wanted to keep playing golf. That’s when I started practicing a lot more and being more focused about trying to turn it around.”

Daly finished 57th on the money list in 1995, the year he won his second major.

Since then, he has ranked 121st, 165th, 77th, 158th and 188th.

There have been signs before his BMW victory that perhaps a triumph was not far away. He has five top-20 finishes on the PGA Tour this season.

“It’s nice to see John back in the winner’s circle – apart from the fact it’s me who’s second,” Harrington said. “He did everything that he is known for from his two major wins. Anybody can hit it long, but it’s the fact that he was so straight.

“He is a lovely putter, has a lovely touch and it adds up to a very nice player.”

– From staff and wire reports

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