Daly Commits Cardinal Sin
There was John Daly last Friday morning, abruptly exiting another golf course, leaving everyone wondering why. After shooting 10 over par for the first 27 holes of the U.S. Open, Daly hurried from the 9th green to the clubhouse and cleared out his locker as his playing partners, Payne Stewart and Ernie Els, and his caddie, Brian Alexander, stood on the 10th tee waiting for him to return. Only later, after Daly had begun the 850-mile drive to his home in Memphis, did he authorize Callaway Golf officials to release a statement that he had withdrawn from the tournament. The episode marked the third time during Daly's seven-year Tour career that he has quit or been disqualified before the completion of a round. "John felt that if he played the back nine, he might have done something he would have regretted," Chipper Cecil, the director of golf at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif., and a close friend of Daly's, told SI on Friday night. "Maybe he would have hit a shot in jest or thrown something and ended up injuring himself or somebody else."
In his statement Daly, who was playing in his third tournament in a row since completing a two-month alcohol-rehabilitation program at the Betty Ford Center, explained that he was too "physically exhausted" to go on. Neither that defense nor the one offered by Cecil, however, excuses Daly's failure to immediately inform Open officials and his playing partners that he was withdrawing. "I don't know what's going on in his head," said Tom Kite, "but when you continually withdraw from tournaments, it gets absurd. Usually you tell someone." Said Corey Pavin, "Nobody should ever walk off the course unless he's injured."
Daly has not said when he will return to the four. After hosting a charity tournament in Memphis on Monday, he was expected to fly to Palm Springs, Calif., where he owns another house, by the end of the week. There he will work with a nutritionist and a personal fitness trainer and attend AA meetings. Meanwhile, Callaway, which signed Daly to a five-year, $10 million endorsement deal last month, will not resume its Daly ad campaign until he returns to the Tour. "He is really a sweet person, and I care about him." says Ely Callaway, the chairman of the company, "but he has a problem. I just hope he will respond to the help that he's getting."
Until then, Daly should stay away from the game.
The Shark's Un-Excellent Adventure in D.C.
Given Greg Norman's warm relationship with U.S. fans and a certain President, one might have assumed that the Shark's two-week stay in the nation's capital for the Kemper and U.S. Opens would have been a pleasant one. But by the time he lit out of D.C. on Friday night, Norman had been overwhelmed by bad press, bad golf and bad news from home.
Though Norman tied for third in the Kemper, his second-best finish of the year, he gained more attention for a pair of outbursts. At the start of the third round he upbraided starter Bill McGuire, who, while introducing the golfer on the 1st tee, made a joking reference to President Clinton's spill at Norman's Florida house in March. The next day Norman misunderstood an encouraging remark from a fan and responded with an obscene gesture. Although Norman later apologized, Washington Post columnist Tony Kornheiser wrote, "Greg, there are buses going out of town every few minutes.... Why don't you simply get on one?"
Norman probably wished he had. Before the Open, he learned that his father, Merv, would have to undergo heart surgery in Australia on the day of the first round. Norman offered to fly home for the week, but Merv insisted that he play. Norman was on the 2nd fairway last Thursday when he was handed a note saying the surgery had been successful. Nonetheless, he shot a 14-over-par 154 for the first two rounds, missing the cut in the Masters and the U.S. Open in the same year for the first time in his career. After bogeying the 18th on Friday, he quipped, "I'm just glad I made the four-footer to break 80."
On his way from the scorer's tent to the clubhouse Norman ran a gantlet of fans pleading for autographs. Norman quietly obliged, but before he entered the clubhouse, a man maliciously shouted, "Break a leg next time, Greg!"