Golf

When going gets tough, Daly gives up

US golfer John Daly leaves the Australian Open
John Daly leaves The Lakes Golf Club after walking off the course at the Australian Open.
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Robert Lusetich

After more than 20 years of covering everything from election campaigns to the Olympic Games, Robert Lusetich turned his focus to writing about his first love: golf. He is author of Unplayable: An Inside Account of Tiger's Most Tumultuous Season. Follow him on Twitter.

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SYDNEY

Surely John Daly has disgraced golf for the last time.

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Daly, whose world ranking has fallen to — appropriately enough — No. 666, was at his petulant worst in the first round of the Australian Open, carelessly unloading a small bucket of balls into the water on the par-5 11th hole, then walking off the course when he ran out of golf balls.

“When you run out of balls, you run out of balls,” he later tweeted.

Sadly, Big Fella, you ran out of balls a long time ago.

This was Daly’s third withdrawal from a tournament since September.

The only category he leads golf in is withdrawals; golf’s greatest quitter has more than 30 in the past decade.

His tired dog-and-pony show has to come to an end — and it will, at least in Australia.

The PGA Tour of Australasia said Daly’s behavior would be referred to its disciplinary committee and, in view of a similar instance at the Austrian Open recently, his invitation to play in the Australian PGA in two weeks has been withdrawn.

“The PGA does not need this kind of behavior tarnishing the achievements of other players and the reputation of our tournaments,” PGA of Australia chief executive Brian Thorburn said.

“John is not welcome at Coolum (venue of the Australian PGA).”

Trevor Herden, the Australian Open tournament director, was just as angry with Daly, saying that he hoped the US and European Tours also would take action against the 45-year-old.

“They need to deal with this in the most serious fashion,” he said.

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“We have to protect the sport and the image of this championship, which is the thing I am totally upset with. We’ve got the best field ever, and he wants to treat it like this. It is not good enough.

“I would say this is the last time we will see John Daly.”

Daly hasn’t won a tournament on the PGA Tour in seven years.

His role nowadays is to wear outrageous clothes, have people marvel at the 100 pounds he’s lost since having his stomach stapled, smoke Marlboro Lights, drink beer and wave to his fans while he trades off the long-ago image of “Long John” Daly.

His meltdown at The Lakes started on the 10th hole, when — already 4-over par — he hit his driver into the greenside bunker. But from there, he hit the wrong ball. He was assessed a penalty, smashed his shot on the green, then three-putted from a few feet.

As usual, when the going got tough, John Daly gave up.

On the next hole, he pumped seven balls into the water — meaning he would have been hitting his 16th shot had he continued. The last ball he hit had no chance of finding land. Daly hit it into the middle of the lake.

And then he walked off, though he stopped to shake hands with his playing partners, Craig Parry and Hunter Mahan. Daly’s girlfriend later got into a pushing match with a photographer in the parking lot.

Mahan said he wouldn't think to act as Daly did. “It must be pretty freeing to do that; to say, 'I’m out and I’m going to get rid of these balls as well,'” he said. “. . . It's not the most respectful thing to do.”

When he saw Daly's first two approach shots — hit with a 7-iron — go into the water, Mahan said, “I was thinking of Bay Hill (in 1998), when he dumped a bunch of them in the water.”

Herden was particularly incensed when he heard that Daly used the excuse of running out of balls, tweeting: “when u run out of balls u run out of balls. yes, I shook my player's partners hands & signed my card w/rules official.”

Said Herden: “If you run out of golf balls, and you are acting in a professional manner, you will call a rules official and we will get the type of ball he is playing with and replenish his stock.”

“We can do that. For him to treat it as ‘that’s it’ and ‘see you later,’ that’s not good enough.”

It never is with John Daly.

Tagged: John Daly, Hunter Mahan

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