Thursday, March 13, 2008

Special Comment on John Daly

It's time to have a chat about John Daly. We do this every year and this is going to be the one and only time I address the subject this season.

John Daly's relationship with Butch Harmon was terminated by Harmon on Monday. Daly was notified, apparently, through the press reporting of the move. Harmon said that Daly is more concerned about drinking than playing golf. I would imagine that a lot of what Harmon did was motivated by the behavior reported in the Hooters tent at the PODS Championship - where Daly missed the cut and was being caddied by friend and Tampa Bay Bucs Head Coach Jon Gruden. Reports indicate that the entire week was a mess - and, to boot, Daly did not make any money and did not really seem to care.

Harmon began his relationship with Daly - which only lasted 3 sessions - under the auspices that JD would prove his commitment to golf and not to drinking. Golf would have to come first, or the relationship would end. It became obvious that golf is not first, so Harmon followed through on his promise. Good for him.

Harmon did the right thing. It is far too often that people associated with John Daly do not take tough enough of a stance in confronting his behavior. Daly's posse seems to encourage his rowdy and destructive behavior. Sure, there is nothing wrong with fun. But, there is something wrong with an addiction, and it appears clear that Daly has an alcohol addiction that he cannot kick with the group that surrounds him. Where was Gruden with the tough love approach?

There have been articles for months now wondering if PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem will call Daly into his office and lay down the law. It does not appear that has been done. Or, if it has been, Finchem cowered in his opportunity. John Daly needs to know that there is a recourse for his friends, colleagues, sponsors, and professional opportunities - as a whole - for his negative behavior.

Yes, he has lost sponsorship deals. (Hooters dropped JD recently and he has no sponsor on the bag. That's why he wrote his book.) But, he still has tournament directors clamoring to offer him a sponsor's exemption even though he has 1 win (Buick Invitational) in the last 13 seasons. Why? Because John brings a circus atmosphere that people want to see. Despite his flaws, people connect with him in a very real way. I know I do to some extent. For that reason, people come to see him play and wish him well even if for only 2 rounds.

Still, this gives him opportunities to play. It is also a subtle validation of his behavior. In fact, it could almost be creating a perpetual cycle for Daly's antics. Tournament Directors invite Daly because he is raucous and flawed, but brings a crowd. He is not necessarily invited for his talent - which he still has in spades when he is committed to golf. Daly realizes the true reason for why he is invited and then determines that he should keep acting as he is in order to stay relevant in golf and keep getting sponsor invitations.

Tim Finchem must step in, along with his friends on Tour and the sponsorship community, to have an intervention of sorts with Daly. Addiction experts will tell you that an addict will not commit to change until they recognize that they have hit rock bottom. So long as Daly can be on the PGA Tour, get invitations to play, and have public support for him from players and fans - despite no progress in his lifestyle - then nothing will change.

Suspend Daly for a year. Take away his ability to play in the United States on the PGA and Nationwide Tours. He will find out quickly that will be his rock bottom.

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