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How 30 years ago a then unknown John Daly helped a family deal with tragedy

John DalyThe story has always been a fiction. You simply won’t win any of the four major golf championships if you’ve never seen the course, let alone come out on the field as an obscure alternative. But 30 years ago, in 1991, John Daly became a long-lived “Grip-it-and-Rip-it” folk hero when he won the PGA championship at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Indiana.

Then, 25 years old, Daly was the ninth alternative and only came into the field after that Nick Price retired for the birth of his first child on the eve of the first round. So Daly made the 7-hour drive from his Memphis home to Indianapolis, arriving in town around midnight with no practice session. The next morning, led by Jeff “Squeaky” “Medlin – Price” s usual caddy – Daly opened on a 69, then set off for an unlikely win and became a household name.

But that’s only part of this week’s story, lost in disbelief in Daly’s accomplishment and forgotten over time. There was tragedy that came with triumph in Crooked Stick that week.

During the first lap, a weather delay required the course to be evacuated. Tom Weaver, who lived in nearby Fishers, Indiana and had recently played golf, was there with two other friends. Weaver went to his car and was struck in the chest by lightning and died on the scene. He was 39 years old. He left behind a wife, Dee, and two daughters: Emily, who was 12 years old, and Karen, who was 8 years old.

Days later, after Daly (who won $ 230,000) just won his first major championship and went from obscurity to fame, he quietly wrote a check for $ 30,000 without fanfare. He sent it to Dee Weaver to set up a college fund for their two daughters.

“When he wins this legendary tournament and is so selfless and shares his winnings with us, it sheds light on his true character and what he values ​​most,” said Karen, now Kirschner’s last name and a doctor in Indianapolis .

The following 30 years have been a wild ride for Daly, full of ups and downs, great victories and very public failures and disappointments. He won the St. Andrews Open in 1995 and won a total of five PGA Tour titles. He was also fined and suspended, taken to rehab for alcohol problems, and suffered divorces. In September he announced that he had bladder cancer.

He remains the everyone who swings as hard as possible to bring drives into orbit. At the 2019 PGA Championship at Bethpage Black, New York, he was granted special permission to ride in a cart due to a medical exemption. He chugged Diet Cokes and smoked on the chain His way through the course followed every step of the way, cheering the New Yorkers on despite shooting 75-76 to miss the cut by 7 shots.

As a former champion, he will be back this week when the event takes place at the Ocean Course on Kiawah Island, where he will again be granted use of a golf cart at the request of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Fans will be back after none were allowed into TPC Harding Park a year ago due to COVID-19 restrictions. They’ll be cheering on John Daly. There will be some others who are not there and who will also cheer him on for what he did 30 years ago.

“I’m not a great golfer, but I tried to follow him and some things I found weren’t positive,” said Emily, who is now Edmondson’s last name. She has four children and lives outside of Indianapolis. “I just made a choice not to be naive. I wanted to focus on what I knew about him. I didn’t want it to trigger my thoughts or my perspective on him. It doesn’t matter to me. It doesn’t negate what he’s done. It just speaks to his true character and the person he is. “

Daly said in a recent email exchange with ESPN that he had read about the tragedy this week in the newspaper.

“I just felt like I had to do something, almost a responsibility, ever since I felt myself [Tom Weaver] was there because of us players and I thought in my heart it was a gift from God, ”said Daly.

“I am so proud of these girls and I look forward to taking care of them and what they have achieved.”

Emily attended Purdue for two years before getting married and then graduating from the College of DuPage near Chicago with a degree in respiratory therapy.

Karen studied biology in Indiana before entering medical school at the American University of the Caribbean-St. Maarten. She then completed a family medicine fellowship in Louisville, followed by another fellowship at the University of South Florida.

She now works as a palliative care practitioner at Franciscan Health in Indianapolis.

Daly said he thought $ 15,000 for any girl was a fair amount to get a head start on a college fund. So he sent $ 30,000. Dee Weaver was looking for a financial advisor to help invest the money.

“I didn’t understand then how big John’s sacrifice was,” said Emily. “I just assumed it was some guy who got a big paycheck and was generous enough to give us some.” We were very young and it was his first win and he had obligations and debts and the whole part of it I didn’t know.

“My mom invested it and the money had grown. My sister used it all for her school and I used it for what I had to pay for school back then and the rest of the money is still invested. We have four Children, and it’s a legacy made for our family. ”

Daly pays tribute to Dee, who has since remarried, and what she did to raise the two girls who now have six children between them.

“It was really amazing,” said Daly, “what her mother did with the money to help her children.”

Daly always hesitated to reach the family. He feared hearing from him would only bring back bad memories of the loss of a husband and a father. But in 2005, 14 years after the accident, Steve Fisher, who married Dee in 2000, reached out to Daly through Golf Digest to tell him what his generosity had brought.

Daly was moved. He worked out a plan for them to meet at a charity golf tournament run by his friend. Fuzzy Zoellerin southern Indiana.

“I just met two wonderful people,” said Daly. “I met a great mother and a great stepfather who also stood up for these girls.” I told them that I was so proud of them for what they achieved and, to this day, so sad for what they went through when they were young.

“I was just so happy that I could step in to help them. And I wasn’t looking for advertisements. I was just so happy because it’s an unforgettable place and a special place and something special to me in my life.”

When they met, the family brought a present for Daly.

“We had made a scrapbook for him with pictures of us growing up and we could give that to him,” said Karen. “He could see through this and just sit down and talk. I didn’t feel like it was rushing. I felt like it was a very real, intimate time we could spend with him. I know he was He said he thought of us a lot and wondered how we were doing. I was so glad Steve held out his hand and we were very grateful that it happened. ”

All these years later, Daly continues to be happy to have played a small part in the family’s life. He said they hadn’t been in contact recently, except for an email update from Fisher a few months ago.

“What is hard to understand is that I still can’t believe it was 30 years ago!” Daly wrote. “I shared this story with my children and I would love to meet them again somewhere.”

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