Daly walks off course after rules dispute


ATZENBRUGG, Austria – John Daly walked off the course at the Austrian Open on Friday after a dispute with officials over a ball drop.

After completing the 15th hole, Daly (pictured above on No. 15) was told by referee Andy McFee he had dropped his ball in the wrong place after it landed in an unplayable position under a TV tower.

Instead of accepting the two-shot penalty, he decided to quit. He was 4 over before the penalty.

The incident occurred when Daly and playing partners Miguel Angel Jimenez and Martin Wiegele were already playing the next hole.

McFee came on the course and asked Daly to go back to the 15th and show him exactly what he had done. After Daly explained it to him, the referee ruled that the drop was too close to the position where the ball initially landed and penalized the American.

“When I knew it was not a serious breach I said ‘You can carry on, John’. But John did not want to do that,” McFee told Sky Sports. “He said ‘What’s the penalty?’ I told him it was a two-shot penalty, at which point he said, ‘I’m done.”’

Daly shook hands with Jimenez and Wiegele before walking off the course and hastily leaving the Diamond Country Club with his wife and son.

“I had tried to help him with the drop so I thought for a moment that maybe I had done something wrong,” said Jimenez, who carded a 69 to lie five shots off the lead. “It definitely put me off for the remaining holes.”

The 45-year-old Daly had also thrown a club into the water after a mishit earlier on the same hole.

Daly, who carded a 2-over 74 in the opening round Thursday, had three birdies and was 1 under after 13 holes on Friday. At both the 14th and 15th, he hit shots into the water.

Robert Coles shot a 7-under 65 for the best round of the day to share the lead with Joost Luiten, Thomas Norret and Gaganjeet Bhullar after the second round.

Wiegele finished at 2-under 142, five shots off the lead.

“Thank God I was able to stay focused,” the Austrian player said. “(Daly) played some brilliant stuff today but unfortunately it ended in a negative way. These two situations made him explode.”

Wiegele said he thought at first that Daly might leave without shaking hands.

“But then he came to me and said that (Jimenez and Wiegele) were playing well and that he did not want to slow us down,” Wiegele said. “He wished us both good luck for the weekend and left.”

Overnight leader Liam Bond of Wales had a 74 to sit three shots back.

Three-time major champion Padraig Harrington carded 70 to make the cut, but defending champion Jose Manuel Lara went home early after a 74, finishing at 5 over for two rounds.

Walker Cup players Tom Lewis, who carded 70, and Andy Sullivan, who finished 3 over, made the cut in their professional debuts, though teammate Paul Cutler went out at 7 over par.