Fri, Jan 02, 2009 - Page 20 News List

John Daly says he’s serving six-month suspension

COLORFUL CHARACTER During a controversial career the golf star has hit a drive off a beer can, scuffled with spectators and been to alcohol rehab

AP , NEW YORK

John Daly said on Wednesday he has been suspended for six months by the PGA Tour for conduct that brought unwelcome publicity, including a night in a North Carolina jail to sober up.

“Is it fair that I got suspended? It’s not fair in reality, but it’s probably fair in perception,” he said.

He has not played on the PGA Tour since Oct. 17. Ten days later, police in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, said he appeared intoxicated outside a Hooters restaurant, and he was taken to jail to sleep it off. That led to a photo of Daly in an orange jail suit with his eyes half-open.

PGA Tour spokesman Ty Votaw did not immediately return a phone call. Asked a month ago whether Daly had been suspended, Votaw said the tour does not discuss disciplinary action involving any player.

Daly decided to go public with the suspension “to be fair to my fans and tournament organizers” during the first three months of the season when he typically plays.

He said he would continue playing the European tour, starting with a three-week swing in the United Arab Emirates.

“This is the lowest I’ve ever been,” Daly said. “There’s always light with me. Right now, my home tour is probably Europe. And I love the European tour. I always have. But my home is the United States. That’s where I would rather play.”

Daly isn’t even sure when the suspension began, but he hopes it ends in May. He said PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem sent a letter to his agent, Bud Martin, who passed along the news.

“Tim and his staff have to do what they do,” Daly said. “Truly and honestly, I wish Tim would get to know the facts better before he makes a decision. I would love to sit down and have a nice talk with him, tell him what really happened.”

Daly’s career is highlighted by victories in the PGA Championship and the British Open. But it has been dragged down by trips to alcohol rehab, gambling losses and other off-course episodes.

He was suspended in 1993 for picking up his ball during a round in a tournament at Kapalua.

Daly agreed to sit out the final five months of the 1994 season after scuffling with a man at Firestone. On another occasion, the tour encouraged Daly to enter rehab after he trashed his hotel room.

Daly has played four times since the PGA Tour suspended him, tying for 17th in the Hong Kong Open and missing the cut at all three tournaments he played in Australia. In the Australian Open, he lost his patience with a fan who put a camera in his face during the round, smashing it against a tree.

Asked why he was suspended, Daly pointed to four incidents during the year.

After a rain delay at Innisbrook during the Florida swing, he emerged from a hospitality tent with Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden as his caddie for the final seven holes of the round.

While promoting a golf course in Missouri Daly did a television interview wearing only blue jeans — no shirt, no shoes. Then at the Buick Open Daly hit one drive off the top of a beer can.

He drew the most attention from the night in jail. Daly said that his friends called police when they feared he had passed out, unaware he sleeps with his eyes open when he’s had too much to drink. Daly was not charged, rather put in jail under a state law called “Assistance to Intoxicated Persons.” But his jail photo was an Internet sensation.

“The picture didn’t help,” Daly said. “People think I got arrested when I didn’t get arrested. It is what it is. I’ve got to deal with it and go on. Whatever reason the tour has, maybe a positive will come out of this.”

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