John Daly takes a walk, might not be welcomed back
Hunter Mahan knew what was coming.
Anyone who has watched John Daly lose patience, lose hope and eventually lose his temper should not have been surprised. He turned a bad break into something much worse, then walked off the golf course at the Australian Open.
It wasn't the first time. It might be the last.
Not long after Daly withdrew Thursday, the PGA of Australia said he no longer was welcome in two weeks for the Australian PGA Championship. Golf Australia's director of tournaments, Trevor Herden, called him ''unprofessional'' and said while the Australian Open loves to have major champions in the field, ''I would say this is the last time we will see John Daly.''
Mahan was walking down the 11th fairway at The Lakes, a 577-yard hole that hugs the waters, when he looked back to see Daly pump two shots into the water while trying to reach the green.
Then came a third. And a fourth. And a fifth. A sixth. A seventh.
''I was thinking of Bay Hill when he dumped a bunch in the water,'' Mahan said.
Mahan was still a teenager in Dallas in 1998 when Daly hit six balls into the water on the sixth hole at Bay Hill in the final round and made an 18, the highest score he has recorded.
The only thing that kept Daly from breaking his record at the Australian Open was that Daly ran out of balls. He would have been playing his 16th shot. Instead, he motioned to Mahan and Craig Parry, handed over his scorecard and stormed off the course.
''Once I saw two go in, I think the effort went down pretty fast,'' Mahan said. ''I thought that's what we were going to see. And we did.''
Daly was 7-over par through 10 holes.
His career scorecard looks even worse, especially Down Under.
Six months after winning his first major in the 1991 PGA Championship at Crooked Stick, Daly was disqualified from the Australian Masters for failing to sign his card after an 81 in the second round. Five years later, he shot an 83 in the third round of the Heineken Classic and played the final round in 2 hours, 10 minutes, angering tournament officials who paid a big appearance fee.
Then came the Australian PGA in 2002, when he was so disgusted with a triple bogey and a 78, he threw his putter into the lake on the 18th green and was fined $5,600. He also had to write an apology to a tour official he was said to have abused.
That's just Australia.
His rap sheet is worse in the United States, where Daly had his ''Tin Cup'' moment at Bay Hill, swatted a moving ball on the turtleback greens of Pinehurst No. 2 in the 1999 U.S. Open, took a 14 on the 18th hole at Pebble Beach in the 2000 U.S. Open after hitting three balls into the Pacific Ocean.
It's a long list.
In a text message Thursday night to The Associated Press, Daly said he still can't find confidence in his game after his injury nearly five years ago. He also never imagined he would run out of golf balls during a round.
''I love the fans here in Australia. They've been great,'' Daly said. ''I've never played well here. Try too hard and it backfired. It might not be bad if they ban me ... because I've never played well here. But I do love the people here and this beautiful country. I take responsibility for my actions. I always have and I don't blame anybody but myself.''
Herden found his behavior Thursday in Sydney to be ''disappointing,'' and his hope was that the PGA Tour would discipline Daly.
Australian officials are just as guilty for enabling him by giving Daly invitations.
Daly remains a popular draw. He is popular with his peers. It is hard to find tour players who don't enjoy his company. He still hits the long ball, and it's impressive to watch. He makes easy conversation. He is fun to be around.
Rare is a player who can be pleasant company, with behavior that doesn't match.
''Normally, character comes through the way we play,'' Parry said.
Parry was quick to defend Daly. As he watched ball after ball after ball go into the water, he says Daly had the right club and should have been able to hit the green. The trouble was the strength of the left-to-right wind that kept that from happening.
''The first one came up short,'' Parry said. ''The second one would have got midway up the green.''
Yes, and what about the next five?
''You can laugh,'' Parry told a group of reporters who were doing just that. ''He's out there trying. When you go to the other side of the world, you go there to do the best.''
Parry was asked if he had ever walked off the course in the middle of the round. He shook his head.
The answer was because Parry knows it's not the right thing to do. Out of respect, and because he likes Daly, he didn't answer.
''I'm not going to have a go at him for that,'' Parry said.
The trouble for Daly - and it was a bad break - started on the 343-yard 10th hole. With the downwind, the green could be reached off the tee. Daly figured his ball had gone into the front bunker because there was a Srixon ball in the sand, just like he plays. Only when he blasted out to about 4 feet did he realize he had hit a practice ball from the adjacent range.
There was a two-shot penalty, which was followed by a three-putt for a triple bogey. Daly was 14 shots out of the lead at that point, when he must have figured he had seen enough.
''It doesn't do anyone any good for him to do what he did today,'' Mahan said, without any malice toward Daly. ''It's unfortunate. He's such a fan favorite and a pleasant guy. I love talking to him. I love playing with him. And then he has these outbursts.''
Mahan found at least one positive.
For all the incidents he has heard or read about Daly, he witnessed one himself.
''You always hear a story of J.D. doing something,'' Mahan said. ''(I was) right in the middle of it.''