ATZENBRUGG, Austria – John Daly walked off the course during the second round of the Austrian Open on Friday after a dispute with officials over a ball drop and two-shot penalty.
After completing the 15th hole, Daly was told by referee Andy McFee he had dropped his ball in the wrong place after it landed in an unplayable position under a TV tower. Instead of accepting the two-shot penalty, Daly decided to quit. He was 4-over before the penalty.
The 45-year-old Daly, a two-time major champion nicknamed ‘Wild Thing,’ had thrown a club into the water after a mishit on the same hole.
Robert Coles of England shot a 7-under 65 for the best round of the day to share the lead with Joost Luiten of the Netherlands, Thomas Norret of Denmark and Gaganjeet Bhullar of India.
Daly was told of the problem when he was already at the next hole with playing partners Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain and Martin Wiegele of Austria.
McFee came on the course and asked Daly to go back to the 15th and show him exactly what he had done. After Daly explained it to him, the referee ruled that the drop was too close to the position where the ball initially landed and penalized the American.
“When I knew it was not a serious breach I said ‘You can carry on John’. But John did not want to do that,” McFee told Sky Sports. “He said ‘What’s the penalty?’ I told him it was a two-shot penalty, at which point he said, ‘I’m done.’”
Daly shook hands with Jimenez and Wiegele before walking off the course and leaving the Diamond Country Club with his wife and son.
“I had tried to help him with the drop, so I thought for a moment that maybe I had done something wrong,” said Jimenez, who shot a 69, five shots off the lead. “It definitely put me off for the remaining holes.”
Daly, who shot a 74 in the opening round Thursday, had three birdies and was 1 under after 13 holes on Friday. At both the 14th and 15th, he hit shots into the water.
Wiegele finished five shots off the lead.
“Thank God I was able to stay focused,” the Austrian player said. “(Daly) played some brilliant stuff today, but unfortunately it ended in a negative way. These two situations made him explode.”
Wiegele said he thought Daly might leave without shaking hands.
“But then he came to me and said that (we) were playing well and that he did not want to slow us down,” Wiegele said. “He wished us both good luck for the weekend and left.”
Leaders Coles, Luiten, Norret and Bhullar haven’t won a European Tour title. They were tied at 7-under 137 after two rounds. Overnight leader Liam Bond of Wales had a 74 to sit three shots back.
Three-time major champion Padraig Harrington shot 70 to make the cut, but defending champion Jose Manuel Lara of Spain went home early after a 74, finishing at 5 over for two rounds.
Tom Lewis, who had 70, and Andy Sullivan, who finished 3 over, made the cut in their professional debuts.