Daly makes abrupt, quiet exit at the turn 'Physically exhausted,' he leaves without telling caddie, partners; U.S. Open


BETHESDA -- Plenty of curiosity seekers followed the eighth group to the No. 9 tee yesterday. They wanted to see if John Daly would attempt to reach the mammoth par-5 in two shots, but what the gallery witnessed was a bogey and his exit from the U.S. Open.

The erratic Daly, winner of two major championships and a recovering alcoholic, never made it to the 10th tee in the second round. Leaving his caddie and playing partners without commenting, he detoured through the clubhouse and to the players' parking lot, where he beat an impending cut and got a head start on the way to his Memphis home.

Callaway Golf recently began a major advertising campaign involving Daly, centering around the slogan "Keep It Straight, John."

A release from the company that attempted to explain his withdrawal quoted Daly as saying: "Even though I thought I was going to be strong enough to come right back and play three straight weeks on Tour, I found out I was wrong. I just started feeling real weak after a few holes today, and by the time I got to No. 9, I was physically exhausted."

Larry Dorman, the vice president of communications for Callaway, said that Daly would go to his condominium in Palm Springs, Calif., next week.

"John will embark on a designed and very intense physical fitness regimen," Dorman said. "He's had a tough battle, and he came back too soon. He lost 35 pounds, and he did it the wrong way. He skipped meals, and didn't tell anybody how he was losing weight.

"This has nothing whatsoever to do with his alcoholism. He has not had anything to drink. He continues to attend AA [Alcoholics Anonymous] meetings."

Dorman said that he knew of no plans for Daly to re-enter the Betty Ford Clinic in Palm Springs. Daly entered an eight-week program for treatment of his alcoholism after his withdrawal from The Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., on March 28. The withdrawal came after a first-round 76 and an all-night drinking binge that led to the breakup of his third marriage.

After two months away from the PGA Tour, Daly returned for the Memorial, where he made the cut but finished 74th. He talked at length about a new start and attitude before the Kemper Open, where he finished 70th.

The U.S. Open was Daly's third consecutive tournament, and he was uneasy even before it began.

The Orlando Sentinel reported that Daly arranged a Wednesday morning practice round with Tiger Woods and Fuzzy Zoeller, who made some infamous remarks after Woods' win at the Masters. When Woods discovered the makeup of the group, he pulled out.

Daly had a 77 in the first round, and bogeyed Nos. 1 and 5 yesterday, when he played with Ernie Els and Payne Stewart. He showed no signs of fatigue on No. 8, where he missed a short putt for birdie, but the 607-yard ninth was a grind.

He drove into the left rough, hacked his ball forward less than 150 yards onto a grass path, then put his third shot into the rough right of the green. It took two chips to get his ball out of rough and onto the green, where Daly made a short putt for bogey.

There was a two-minute wait at the 10th tee for the previous group to hit their second shots, but Daly was still nowhere to be seen when Els laced his drive long and straight and Stewart put his in the fairway.

"I've been working the Open for 10 years, and this is the first time this has happened," said Stuart Reid, the USGA rules official with the group. "[Daly] went through the mess of people going from the ninth green to the 10th tee. We turned around and he was gone. His caddie [Brian Alexander] was on the 10th tee, in a state of panic.

"[Daly] never said a word to him, never said a word to me, never said a word to the walking scorer, and never said a word to his fellow competitors."

Minus a third ball, the twosome waited on every hole on the back nine. Stewart was in no mood to talk about the incident, and Els said, "I didn't see anything wrong with the guy."

Daly has had similar incidents in the past. He was suspended from the PGA Tour three years ago, and could be in for more discipline.

"It's not a distraction to the Tour, but it's certainly a shame that he's continuing to do stuff like this," said Tom Kite, the 1992 U.S. Open champion who will captain the United States in the Ryder Cup in September. "I don't know what's going on in John's head, or what kind of internal battles he's dealing with. He's got to straighten them out if he's going to get back on Tour."

Pub Date: 6/14/97

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