Daly eager for first PGA Tour event since his suspension

By Associated PressJune 10, 2009, 4:00 pm
Bookmark and Share
MEMPHIS, Tenn. ' The question came at John Daly a variety of ways Wednesday, and he tried deflecting them with jokes.
His weight loss? He cheated. And the lap-band surgery was so successful that his 17-year-old daughter is scheduled for her turn next week. His time on the European Tour? Great, loves it as much as the PGA Tour ' except for the cameras going off during his swing and smaller purses. A last chance? Thats when hes dead and buried.
Then the golfer whose life features more drama than reality TV finally talked about what everyone wants to know: Is he really serious about golf this time?
You think youre going to be out here for life. I took that for granted. I didnt take all the golf tournaments as serious as I should have, Daly said.
He mentioned NFL player Thomas Hollywood Henderson as an example that sticks with Daly, someone who never knew how great he could have been because of the Dallas linebackers own struggles with alcohol and drugs.
But the good news is I can still salvage a great career, Daly said.
His latest step at another career revival comes Thursday in the opening round of the St. Jude Classic, his first tournament back since a six-month suspension from the PGA Tour. Hes here on a sponsors exemption in a place he considers home and where fans eagerly watch, ready to call the hogs for the Arkansas native at any time.
This tournament needs Daly and all the attention he brings in a year that has featured as much suspense as the troubled golfer himself.
Title sponsor Stanford Financial was dropped in March with its assets frozen in a federal investigation. That left an event heading into its 52nd year named only for its charity, the St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital. Tournament officials scrambled for money even as FedEx, whose headquarters overlooks part of the Southwind course, increased its support.
Late last week, the purse was cut $500,000 to $5.6 million, the first time thats happened on Tour this year. The winner will take home a little less but still a $1 million check in a move players learned about only an hour before the commitment deadline last Friday.
We wanted to give every opportunity to see how we could compete at the levels that had been previously announced, Tour spokesman Ty Votaw said. The final determination was that we felt it was best we do this.
So no wonder officials welcomed Daly back with an exemption. More headlines followed when Phil Mickelson, ranked No. 2 in the world, announced his return to competition three weeks after suspending his schedule because his wife, Amy, was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Its an attempt at some normalcy and a tuneup for next weeks U.S. Open at Bethpage Black in New York.
So here I am, Mickelson said of playing a course redesigned and toughened to par-70 since his lone visit here in 2001.
The rest of the field includes Henrik Stenson in his first event since winning the Players Championship, Sergio Garcia, British Open and PGA champion Padraig Harrington, Camilo Villegas and Retief Goosen. Justin Leonard is back defending his title, looking for his third win here since 2005 along with another two-time winner in David Toms.
Leonard said he does worry about the lack of a sponsor but has faith that tournament director Phil Cannon can find a replacement.
Its a tough spot. Trying to find a title sponsor in this economy is difficult, Leonard said.
The tournament would like to have a replacement before the Tour schedule for 2010 is announced in October or November. Cannon is optimistic about finding a replacement and said it helps being affiliated with FedEx and St. Jude, this events charity since 1970.
Tim Herron has been involved for years with Target House, which houses families of St. Jude patients. He said PGA golfers need this event just as much as Memphis and St. Jude.
So I dont think anyone here really needs to panic, Herron said.
Herron will be playing with Daly. Herron was one of the first people who called Daly after news of his suspension, and he also talked briefly with Daly on the putting green here Tuesday.
At least hes thinking positive, in the right direction you know. Wish him the best on I guess positive thinking. You know its funny. People still love him, fans especially. People are still talking about John, which is good. So hes still good for the Tour, good for the community, Herron said.
Leonard is looking forward to seeing Daly himself.
It seems like from the outside looking in that hes pretty serious about his game, and thats a good thing for all of us, Leonard said.
Good golf would be a nice change from all the excitement Daly has generated away from this course. In 2007, Daly accused his wife, Sherrie, of attacking him with a steak knife. A gag order rules in their divorce case, and Dalys attorneys got a temporary restraining order Wednesday keeping his wife, who lives next to the course, away from the TPC at Southwind while he plays.
But Daly did finish second in Italy. He has lost 61 pounds down to a trim 219 as of last weekend on his way to his goal of 190 and is working on his game with coach Rick Smith. The man who used to practice only for majors said he isnt going to become as hard-working as Vijay Singh.
Its like Vijay is telling me, the practice could pay off six months down the road. It could pay off a week down the road. It could pay off a year down the road. But sooner or later like what Goose told me yesterday, sooner or later it is going to pay off, Daly said.


Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - St. Jude Classic
  • Golf Channel Airtimes
  • Getty Images

    Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

    By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

    One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

    Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

    "I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

    Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

    "I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

    Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

    "Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

    Getty Images

    Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

    Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

    Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

    “I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

    The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

    “I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

    This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

    The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

    Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

    The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

    A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

    And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

    The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

    Masters victory

    Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

    Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

    Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

    Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

    Green jacket tour

    Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

    Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

    Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

    Man of the people

    Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

    Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

    Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

    Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

    Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

    Growing family

    Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

    Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

    Departure from TaylorMade

    Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

    Squashed beef with Paddy

    Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

    Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

    Victory at Valderrama

    Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

    Getty Images

    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm