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Daly: I 'Choked' At The World Cup

After 18 months of sobriety, golf's "Wild Thing," John Daly , admitted Tuesday he is still waging a daily battle against alcoholic demons which give him the shakes and made him "choke" in last weekend's World Cup.

Daly, who has top billing in this week's Hong Kong Open Championship, told a news conference he was hitting the ball well "but the problems and the struggles I've gone through make it very difficult to compete to the best of my ability."

"I've been sober for just over 18 months and it's very hard.

"Everyday I feel like there's always that chance I might reach out and grab one. It's a scary feeling," said Daly, who is adored by golf fans for his "grip it and rip it" style of play.

He will tee off Thursday with Costantino Rocca, whom he beat in an Open Championship playoff three years ago, and David Frost, who came to his assistance when he had an attack of alcoholic shakes and burst into tears at the Greater Vancouver Open in August.

"I still get them out there whether I play good or bad," he said. "It's very difficult, it's a struggle, and it makes golf very difficult.

"Golf is a pressure game, it's a very stressful game, it really is a drinking man's game."

Big-hitting Daly, 32, burst onto the scene with a surprise victory in the 1991 PGA Championship before his career was almost derailed by his wild drinking.

Now he is struggling to stay sober in what he sees as a world dominated by drink -- whether through sponsors, tournament functions or beer-swilling fans.

"It is a very difficult time in my life -- I am in what they classify as a relapse mode. The 18-month to two-year period is where a lot of people who are in the programme do relapse and it scares the living hell out of me.

"I surround myself with really great people and all I can do is get through each day," he said, expressing relief that this week's sponsor is Perrier mineral water, who presented him with a "Hero Award" for his courageous fight.

He missed two short putts on the 17th and 18th greens in the final round of the World Cup of Golf in Whangaparoa, New Zealand on Sunday which he reckoned cost the U.S. their chance of victory. He and partner Scott Verplank tied for third for Scotland behind England and Italy.

"When the heat was on I choked. Usually when I have that situation I don't feel the pressure I usually just knock them in.

"But now its totally different, I guess I used to be so drunk I didn't care.

Now it's tough, I feel all the nerves and the pressure more than I ever have," said Daly, wo looked fit and relaxed and joked with journalists.

The field also includes formerMasters champion José Maria Olazábal, former PGA champion Mark Brooks, defending champion Frank Nobilo, and Japan's Hisayuki Sasaki, making a return after an operation for gangrene on his hand.

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