Daly melts down, withdraws at Australian Open
SYDNEY — John Daly hit seven balls into the water on the 11th hole and stormed off the golf course at the Australian Open. Already with a tarnished reputation Down Under, he might have gone too far with Australia’s golf hierarchy.
Daly was banned from playing in the Australian PGA in two weeks.
And he might not be welcome back.
“It’s very disappointing for the tournament ... that he has treated the championship this way,” Trevor Herden, Golf Australia’s director of tournaments, said Thursday. “It is a bit of a habit.”
Daly was 7 over after 10 holes in the first round after becoming upset on the 10th hole when he hit a practice ball out of a bunker, believing it was his tee shot. The two-shot penalty and a three-putt that followed gave him a triple bogey.
On the 11th, he hit ball after ball into the water, some landing in the center of the pond, before a tour official joined him. Moments later, Daly shook hands with playing partners Craig Parry of Australia and American Hunter Mahan and walked off the course.
He would have been hitting his 16th shot if he had more golf balls.
“Once I saw two go in, I think the effort went down pretty fast,” Mahan said. “It doesn’t do anyone any good for John to do what he did. It’s unfortunate, J.D. is a pleasant guy.”
Parry was mostly sympathetic towards Daly, saying he had the right club to reach the green, but the wind was stronger than Daly realized.
“I like John, he’s a great guy,” Parry said.
Daly said on Twitter, “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.”
In a text message to The Associated Press, Daly said he hasn’t had confidence in his game since he was injured five years ago, and that he never thought he would run out of balls during a round.
“I love the fans here in Australia. They’ve been great,” Daly said in the text. “I’ve never played well here. Try too hard and it backfired. ... But I do love the people here and this beautiful country.”
Herden said Daly’s actions were “unprofessional” and action needed to be taken against him. And Herden said running out of balls was no excuse for walking off the course.
“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,” Herden said. “We can do that. For him to treat it as ‘that’s it’ and ‘see you later’, that’s not good enough.”
Herden said Daly appeared to become upset after hitting the wrong ball out of a bunker on 10.
“I believe he has gone down 11, hitting five or six balls in the water — I am not exactly sure,” Herden said. “Anyway, he walks right off the golf course, with his son behind him, got in the courtesy car and went straight back to his hotel.”
Asked why the Australian Open would have paid him appearance money to be here, Herden replied: “I am not going to talk about appearance money, but he likes to come back this time of year to Australia.”
“He is a major winner, we have to pay him some respect, too, even though his times have moved on slightly,” he said. “But I would say this will be the last time we will see John Daly.”
The PGA of Australia later issued a statement saying no appearance fees had been paid to Daly. It also said Daly’s actions Thursday would be referred to a disciplinary committee.
Daly, now ranked 666th in the world, was scheduled to play at the Australian PGA at the Hyatt Regency course at Coolum in two weeks. That won’t be happening, as the PGA of Australia withdrew the invitation.
“The PGA does not need this kind of behavior tarnishing the achievements of other players and the reputation of our tournaments,” said PGA chief executive Brian Thorburn. “John is not welcome at Coolum.”
In 2002, after taking a triple-bogey 7 on his last hole at the Coolum course, Daly threw his putter and ball into a greenside pond and later failed to sign for a 78 on his scorecard, disqualifying himself from the tournament. He was later fined $5,600 by the Australasian tour and was ordered to write a letter of apology to a tour official he verbally abused.
Two years ago at the Australian Open, he smashed a spectator’s camera into a tree at Royal Sydney’s ninth hole. He was given a suspended fine by Golf Australia.
His behavior is even more extensive in the United States.
In 1998 at the PGA Tour’s Bay Hill Invitational, Daly hit a 3-wood into the water six times in the final round, took an 18 on the par-5 sixth hole and shot an 85. In the 2000 U.S. Open, he had a 14 on the par-5 18th hole and withdrew after an opening-round 83. Daly dumped three balls into the Pacific Ocean and hit another into a backyard adjacent to the fairway.