Appleby calls Daly 'gifted' but also refers to him as 'freak card'

John Daly, playing this week in the Australian Masters and next week in the Australian PGA on sponsor's invitations, for years has heard calls from his critics to clean up his act. But usually those bold statements have not come from his peers.

Australian Stuart Appleby, ranked 35th in the world, told reporters that he didn't think bringing Daly to play Down Under was the best idea but understood the reasoning behind it.

"John Daly is unique," Appleby said. "As players, we only wish that he put a little bit more time into his game and less time into ruining his personal life. He would be a draw card, not just a freak card, because he's so gifted it's a joke."

Appleby added that Daly's personal life detracts from his stature as a professional golfer.

"That has got to the stage now where that's who John Daly is. His game hasn't been the level that he wants it. But I don't think John is here because of his world ranking. He's a walking train wreck, and unfortunately people turn their heads to watch a train wreck.

"It's symptomatic of world golf because he still runs around the world. He's Europe, he's Asia, he's in Australia. It's not like we're desperate -- everyone is doing the same thing."

Daly, who improved his world ranking to No. 692, shot an 8-under 62 final round to finish 17th at last week's Hong Kong Open.

The 1991 PGA Championship and 1995 British Open winner has not held a PGA Tour card since 2006, when his two-year exemption expired from his last victory, the 2004 Buick Invitational. He made only five cuts in 17 starts on the PGA Tour this year and earned just over $56,000.

The American has also had a tumultuous year off the course; he's going through another divorce and also spent a night in jail in October after being found "extremely intoxicated and uncooperative," police said, outside a Hooters restaurant in North Carolina.

The Australian Masters will be played at Huntingdale this week and the Australian PGA will be held at Coolum the following week.

Daly has apologized for his ill-tempered last visit to Coolum in November 2002, when he threw his putter and ball into the water after shooting a 78.

He had received a $200,000 appearance fee but was disqualified for failing to sign his card and fined $5,600 and ordered to write an apology to a tour official he verbally abused. A scuba diver retrieved the ball and putter and it has been mounted in the pro shop at the Hyatt Regency Coolum course in Queensland state.

Daly said he shouldn't have made the trip, which came a week after his mother died, but friends persuaded him to fulfill his commitment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.