Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Really?! Daly Exempted into Buick Open

Did we not just have a talk about this? It happened this week and Carlos Monarrez (someone I routinely disagree with) is defending it on simple grounds:

I'm coming to Daly's defense this week because he has been unfairly criticized recently by his coach, by fellow players and by the media.

It seems Daly's main transgression these days is that he's being himself. Big John. J.D. The Lion. Call him what you will, but he's just the same tell-it-like-it-is, chain-smoking, beer-guzzling, troubled, endearing, honest heap of humanity he has always been.

Fans love him for it. After all, it's not about what sports writers, coaches and other pros think of Daly. It's about what he gives fans -- a refreshing dose of honesty among the cookie-cutter world of pro golf.

That's why it was a no-brainer for the Buick Open to offer Daly an exemption for this year's tournament when he asked for one. If you remember the Tiger-like crowds Daly and his pal Kid Rock attracted to the final round of last year's tournament, Buick officials would be fools not to beg Daly to return to Warwick Hills in June.

It is the same argument that has been made for years about why Daly should be given exemptions. Using my Internet lingo translator, it goes like this:

OMG! Daly is like da fanz 4realz! We be invitin' him to da turny! Sry ur an alkoholik. K thx bye!

Carlos then goes on to talk about the sideshow that Daly has made in the past few weeks. Then he comes up with this one:

Daly's life is a wild and entertaining soap opera. But critics say they're tired of it, that he's wasting his talent and being unprofessional.

OK, let's say that's true. What's the answer? Should we make Daly conform to someone's idea of good behavior with bed checks at 8 p.m. and oatmeal for breakfast? We already have 143 other robots on the course most weeks. We don't need another.

The truth is that Daly's behavior rarely hurts anyone but himself. Instead of trying to change Daly and impose some vague notion of propriety on a man who's only trying to be himself, maybe it's time for Daly's critics to ask themselves why they have the right to ask anyone to change.

Could not be further from the truth, especially from the perspective of the game of golf. His behavior embarrasses his sponsors (that's why he has none), the Tour (Finchem is afraid to do anything), and he totally disrespected Arnold Palmer on Wednesday (though he did a classy thing in playing a make up pro-am round on Sunday). Daly's behavior has an impact on a lot of people.

Still, I think more potent is that the criticism of Daly's behavior - at least mine - is that Daly is an alcoholic. He has an addiction. Whether he chooses to admit it or not, he has an addiction. By offering Daly opportunities to play, the Tour and tournaments are validating that behavior. That is dangerous thinking just to get more tickets sold. It is borderline exploitation.

I love John Daly for every part of his personality - EXCEPT the part about being an alcoholic. It can end a life. It can ruin other lives. Glossing over that because fans want to see him play just seems wrong to me.

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