Official calls John Daly 'unprofessional'

Updated: November 10, 2011, 11:44 AM ET
By Bob Harig | ESPN.com

SYDNEY -- John Daly pumped several golf balls into a water hazard at the Australian Open on Thursday and drew the ire of a tournament official who described his behavior as "unprofessional'' after the two-time major champion quit and walked off the course.

Daly, who is ranked 666th in the world, yet continues to receive sponsor exemptions despite rarely even making cuts, was miffed after being assessed a penalty for playing the wrong ball out of bunker on the 10th hole of The Lakes Golf Course.

It's very disappointing obviously to the tournament, certainly unprofessional. I'm extremely bitter and disappointed that he's treated this championship this way. It's become a bit of a habit. It's unacceptable and I certainly hope that all of the tours deal with it in the appropriate manner this time.

-- Trevor Herden on John Daly

Daly was 4 over through 9 holes and then 7 over after a two-shot penalty at the 10th.

Then at the 11th, it appeared that Daly gave up, and simply hit the remaining balls he had into a water hazard that he didn't come close to clearing.

Daly hit seven golf balls into the water on No. 11 and would have been hitting his 16th shot had he continued.

"It's very disappointing obviously to the tournament, certainly unprofessional,'' said Trevor Herden, the tournament director of the Australian Open and the director of championships for Golf Australia. "I'm extremely bitter and disappointed that he's treated this championship this way. It's become a bit of a habit. It's unacceptable and I certainly hope that all of the tours deal with it in the appropriate manner this time.''

And the disdain did not stop there.

Brian Thorburn, the CEO of the PGA of Australasia, was also harsh. He released a statement in which he said that Daly received no appearance fee for playing the Australian Open and that his offer to play the Australian PGA Championship in Coolum in two weeks has been rescinded.

"The PGA does not need this kind of behavior tarnishing the achievements of other players and the reputation of our tournaments,'' Thorburn said. "John is not welcome at Coolum.

"This afternoon's actions by Daly in withdrawing from the course constitute a breach of the PGA tour of Australasia's regulations and will be referred to the disciplinary committee as soon as practically possible.''

Daly took to his Twitter account afterward and said: "when u run out of balls u run out of balls.''

Said Herden: "If you run out of golf balls and you're acting in a professional manner, you call for a rules official and we will get the type of ball he is playing and replenish his stock. We can do that. But to say see you later ... that's not good enough.''

Daly shook the hands of playing partners Craig Parry and Hunter Mahan, then walked toward the clubhouse with his son, John, and girlfriend Anna Cladakis, who shoved a camera man as they were heading to the parking lot.

"Once I saw two go in, I think the effort went away pretty fast," Mahan said. "I thought that's what we were going to see.''

"I've never thought of [walking off the course]," Mahan added. "It must be pretty freeing to do that. I wouldn't think to do that. We're lucky to be playing this game for a living. It doesn't do anyone good to do what he did today. It's not the most respectful thing. It's unfortunate because JD is a pleasant guy.''

It's just another notch in a golf rap sheet that would be nearly impossible to list for Daly, who has been fined repeatedly. A PGA Tour personnel file for Daly that was released in 2010 as part of a lawsuit showed that he had been cited 11 times for "conduct unbecoming a professional,'' as well as 21 times for "failure to give best effort.''

He nailed both this time.

In his past eight tournaments, Daly, 45, has now withdrawn three times and missed four cuts. He has not finished among the top 125 money winners on the PGA Tour since 2005 and his best performance since then was 187th this year.

In the last decade, he's withdrawn from more than two dozen tournaments on the PGA Tour.

And yet the 1991 PGA champion and 1995 British Open champ continues to receive invites, despite not being fully exempt.

"Obviously he's a major winner,'' Herden said. "Even though his time has moved on slightly, he's still a major winner. He likes to come back, and we'll have major winners.

"But I will say this will be the last time we see him come down. ... What I will say is the tours will deal with this. He's a member of the PGA Tour and he has status on the European Tour and they need to deal with this in the most serious of fashions.''

Bob Harig is the golf writer for ESPN.com.

Bob Harig | email

Golf Writer, ESPN.com