Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Daly out of Arnold Palmer Invitational day after Harmon blast
By Bob Harig ESPN.com
ORLANDO, Fla. -- John Daly was a no-show Wednesday morning for the pro-am round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational and is now ineligible for the event -- a day after his former swing coach publicly challenged whether he is more interested in drinking or golfing.
Daly, invited to Bay Hill on a sponsor's exemption, told tournament officials he thought his tee time was 9:47 a.m. instead of 8:40 a.m. He was on his way to the golf course when he was told there was no point in showing up. He was then ruled out of the tournament, which begins Thursday (he is technically ineligible for missing the event, though he's effectively disqualified).
"Hasn't been a good day," Daly told The Associated Press. "This is the last thing I needed in my life. I feel like I let Arnold down."
When Daly did not show for his tee time at the pro-am, a morning and afternoon alternate list for the pro-am was put into effect.
Fredrik Jacobson was the first alternate in the morning but had been excused due to illness. Ryuji Imada and Nick O'Hern were next on the morning alternate list, but neither was on the property, so both were declared ineligible for the tournament.
Michael Letzig is replacing Imada in the field and Peter Lonard is replacing O'Hern.
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Ian Poulter, who was the first alternate in the afternoon pro-am, happened to be on the property and took Daly's spot. Tag Ridings replaced Daly in the tournament field.
PGA Tour rules require those in the pro-am to participate or risk being ineligible for the event. And the rules also apply to alternates, whose job it is to know where they are on the list and be prepared in case someone drops out.
"I didn't even know that was my Thursday tee time," Daly told the AP. "I should have looked into it. It stinks for me. I want to do anything I can for the tournament as a sponsor exemption. I wanted to meet the people I was playing with in the pro-am. I love Arnold Palmer to death. I called and talked to him and apologized.
"And the thing that upsets me is I cost Nick O'Hern and Ryuji Imada, so now I got these guys mad at me, too."
The lapse could be potentially damaging to Imada, who is ranked 68th in the world rankings and trying to earn a spot in the Masters. The top 50 in the world money rankings through next week's CA Championship at Doral get an invitation to Augusta National.
O'Hern was furious to learn he had been disqualified, especially because he lives only five minutes away at Isleworth.
"When I should have been on the tee, I was giving my girls breakfast," O'Hern said. "I thought common sense would have prevailed. This is a tough one to take. Unfortunately, we got caught up in John's snowball effect."
The tour has a policy that anyone missing the pro-am cannot play in the tournament except for a valid excuse, such as an injury. Phil Mickelson missed his pro-am at the EDS Byron Nelson Championship last year, but was allowed to play because he had been in Arkansas and his flight was delayed by weather.
Daly's disqualification comes one day after Butch Harmon, one of golf's most renowned swing coaches, said he was done working with Daly because the two-time major champion appeared more interested in drinking than working on his game.
"I just wish Butch had called me before getting slapped in the face," Daly told the AP. "I love Butch to death. I still think he's the greatest coach out there. I just told him, 'Don't always believe what you read in the paper.' I texted him, 'All I wish you'd done is call me.' It was a shock to me."
Daly has only one top-10 finish at Bay Hill, although memories are littered around Palmer's course. Daly took an 18 on the sixth hole in 1998 when he shot an 85. He shot an 87 in the final round of 2000.
Poulter also misunderstood the rules, to his benefit; he was an alternate in the afternoon, but thought he was to be at Bay Hill in the morning.
The confusion for O'Hern and Imada stems from a rule that was created two years ago. The alternates are listed in order until Tuesday afternoon, in case anyone withdraws. After that, the Nos. 1, 3 and 5 alternates are assigned to the morning, and Nos. 2, 4 and 6 are assigned to the afternoon.
Fredrik Jacobson was No. 1, but was excused from being an alternate ahead of time. Imada was No. 3 and O'Hern was No. 5.
O'Hern wondered why, since Poulter was around to fill the spot, he or Imada could not be placed in the afternoon group of alternates.
"That would be common sense," he said. "I don't see why they can't do that. At the same time, they've got to have some sort of rule."
Daly told The Associated Press he played Tuesday at a nearby course with Robert Gamez, who helped sort out his putting problems.
"I was looking forward to a great week," Daly said. "I've always had great success at Bay Hill. I usually don't ever miss the cut. I called Arnold, and said he feels just as bad about it. I saw him Monday and he gave me a big ol' hug and said, 'Thanks for being here.'"
Bob Harig covers golf for ESPN.com. The Associated Press contributed to this story.