Saturday 25 March 2017

Wild Thing Daly loses plot in Oz

James Corrigan

There is only one golfer who could take the spotlight away from Tiger Woods, in this of all weeks. Step forward, John Daly. And then depart the scene, stage left, amid a hail of ignominy.

This was the 30th time the Wild Thing has withdrawn from a tournament mid-round -- but it will probably be the last in Australia.

Furious officials in Sydney vowed never to invite back the two-time Major champion and pleaded with the two main tours to punish the American.

Unlike with Steve Williams and those racist remarks, this is one request golf's supremos will likely heed.

It's not as if it will be the first time. Certainly Daly is due sanction, for roughly the 35th time, after a performance which must be considered petulant and unprofessional even by his low standards. He was just 11 holes through his first round of the Australian Open when he ripped the Velcro off his glove, shook his stunned partner's hands and, with young son in tow, marched to the clubhouse.

But if the exit was bizarre, then the acts leading up to it were surreal.

First he hit the wrong ball in a bunker on the 10th, incurring a two-shot penalty.

Then, after finding the lake on the next, fired five more balls into the water hazard.

At the finish he was doing it on purpose -- each time holding out his hand to his caddie, while counting the balls down. He had run up 15 shots by the time his ball-pocket was empty.

The last was aimed at the middle of the pond.

"When you run out of balls, you run out of balls," the 45-year-old later tweeted. He might well have run out of golfing lives.

This was Daly's third withdrawal since September and the Australian authorities did not take it lightly.

The world No 666's invite to the Australian PGA in two weeks' time has already been withdrawn.

Trevor Herden, the tournament director, urged the PGA Tour and European Tour, both of which Daly is a member of, to take action.

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

"I would say this is the last time we will see John Daly. If you run out of balls... you call a rules official and we will... replenish his stock," he said.

Meanwhile, there was a golf tournament going on with Woods recording a commendable 68, four-under, three off the pace-setting Australian Jarrod Lyle.

And there was further good news for Woods as it was revealed he has landed another corporate sponsor, this one filling the void on his golf bag.

Woods has signed a deal with Fuse Science Inc, a Florida company that deals with energy and nutrition products. Woods will not display the company on his golf bag until the Chevron World Challenge next month.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Woods has not had an endorsement on his bag since AT&T dropped him nearly two years ago because of his serial adultery.

Lyle scorched round the tricky Lakes layout in Sydney in 65, with Americans Dustin Johnson and Nick Watney his closest pursuers at six-under.

United States Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples and home favourites Steven Jones, Greg Chalmers and James Nitties are all a further shot back after carding opening 67s.

Of the six players at four-under, Woods was the only one to face the treacherous afternoon conditions.

The former world No 1 hit an impressive 14 of 18 greens in regulation to sit in a share of eighth spot alongside compatriot Bubba Watson and amateur Jake Higginbottom.

"I hit it really good today, that was exactly how I've been hitting it at home, so that's good that I was able to take it to the golf course and in these conditions hit all the shots," Woods said.

Tournament favourite Adam Scott is also well placed after carding a three-under 69 that included a spectacular albatross at the par-five eighth. (© Independent News Service)

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