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THE summer of 1997 provided the best of times and the worst of times for Barclay Howard. At the age of 44, the recovering alcoholic from Johnstone was a folk hero on both sides of the Atlantic after finishing top amateur at the Troon Open in July. Just a matter of weeks later, doctors told him he had leukaemia. Whereas Barclay had merely contemplated suicide during his long, lonely and degrading years on the sauce, the torment of chemotherapy and his cancer treatment left him pleading with his sister, Morag, to end his tribulations. The Barclay Howard story is a harrowing one but, mercifully, also uplifting. This week sees the publication of a book, co-written with journalist Jonathan Russell, which chronicles the far-from-straightforward life of a boy who fell in love with golf, but very badly lost his way. By the time he made the twin dis- covery of Alcoholics Anonymous and his third wife, Tish, in 1991, what should have been the golden years of a European Tour career were scattered in empty lager cans over some of Scotland's finest courses. Between 1992 and 1997 Barclay was one of the best amateurs in the world, twice playing in the Walker Cup, but just as he was enjoying personal happiness and golfing fulfilment, along came leukaemia. There are, as the man will tell you, two Barclay Howards. The first, who I met again at the John Letters factory in Hillington on Wednesday is the cheery, sober Renfrewshire chappie; the second, who was often in the ascendancy between the ages of 20 and 40, was an unpleasant, even poisonous, drunk. That Howard is prepared, with considerable candour, to commit this part of his life to print says much for the man.Read more ›
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