ORLANDO, Fla. - John Daly woke up Wednesday morning to read that swing coach Butch Harmon fired him. Then he got a phone call when he was at the entrance to Bay Hill letting him know he had been kicked out of the Arnold Palmer Invitational for missing the pro-am.
“Hasn’t been a good day,” Daly told The Associated Press. “This is the last thing I needed in my life. I feel like I let Arnold down.”
The wild ride of golf’s most unpredictable figure took another hairpin turn when Daly said he was given wrong information that caused him to miss his tee time, starting a bizarre chain reaction that knocked out two other players from the tournament.
The tour has a policy that anyone missing the pro-am is ineligible to play in the tournament.
Daly, who received a sponsor’s exemption, played a Monday pro-am at Bay Hill and said he was asked to play the Wednesday pro-am, too. He requested a morning start, then called Tuesday to find out his tee time. A woman in the tournament office told him 9:47 a.m., which instead was his starting time for the first round.
“I didn’t even know that was my Thursday tee time,” Daly said. “I should have looked into it. It stinks for me. I want to do anything I can for the tournament as a sponsor exemption. I wanted to meet the people I was playing with in the pro-am. I love Arnold Palmer to death. I called and talked to him and apologized.
“And the thing that upsets me is I cost Nick O’Hern and Ryuji Imada, so now I got these guys mad at me, too.”
Imada and O’Hern were alternates for the pro-am, and both thought they were assigned to the afternoon group. Instead, they were the first two names called when Daly didn’t show, and when neither was around, they also were disqualified from the $5.8 million event.
O’Hern lives only five minutes away at Isleworth and was furious to learn he would not be eligible.
“When I should have been on the tee, I was giving my girls breakfast,” O’Hern said. “I thought common sense would have prevailed. This is a tough one to take. Unfortunately, we got caught up in John’s snowball effect.”
The snowball is starting to look like an avalanche.
Daly lost his full PGA Tour card two years ago and relies mainly on sponsor exemptions. In seven events this year, he has missed the cut three times and withdrew from the Bob Hope Classic, where he was spotted at several after-hour parties.
His best finish was a tie for 60th in Mexico, an opposite-field event.
The Bay Hill mix-up comes one day after Harmon, one golf’s most renowned swing coaches, said he was done working with Daly because the two-time major champion appeared more interested in drinking than working on his game.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
“My whole goal for him was he’s got to show me golf is the most important thing in his life,” Harmon said. “And the most important thing in his life is getting drunk.”
Harmon said Daly’s behavior last week at the PODS Championship was enough to end the short-lived relationship.
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