The Daly show must end

IAN HUTCHINSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:50 AM ET

An unwritten rule followed by most sportswriters is that we never delve into the personal lives of those we cover, so who's sleeping with whom -- and there have been plenty of juicy rumours over the years -- does not become a public issue unless such situations affect a player's performance or the harmony of a team.

Sadly, there is a market for such voyeuristic reporting. Just watch the evening tabloid entertainment shows and listen to the people who have the important task of checking to see if Lindsay, Paris and Britney are wearing their unmentionables for a night on the town.

Apparently, entertainment reporters only use first names on the shows I've seen, but since we're trying to avoid falling into that sewer, let's clarify that we are talking about Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, each a high-profile 20-something who hit a wall in front of the entire world.

We now turn our attention to John, J.D., Big Bubba, or if you wish the usual method of reporting, John Daly, arguably the most popular player on the PGA Tour -- even if he isn't there much anymore -- because of his legendary ramblin', gamblin' ways.

Unfortunately, Daly's act has brought golf writing closer to TV trash with his antics and, thankfully, it has nothing to do with him forgetting his boxers and going commando as he gets out of a limo. His life is, however, spinning out of control and it seems that everybody is gathered to watch the train wreck.

The difference between Daly and the three ladies mentioned above is that they're in their 20s and he is 42.

They can rebound from their much-publicized problems and he is reaching the end of the line, ranked 609th in the world last week, a sad state of affairs for a former winner of the British Open and PGA Championship who now relies on exemptions to get into tournaments.

You would think that situation would be enough to get Big John a little more serious, but his actions of late hardly indicate that is the case.

There is a debate on whether the reports of Daly's drunken antics in a hospitality tent at the PODS Championship are true or not, but he did miss a pro-am at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and was disqualified as a result.

Around the same time, Butch Harmon resigned as Daly's coach, then apparently apologized, according to Daly. That was denied by Harmon, who is taking the right approach with J.D. and the circus that surrounds him.

Why would a respected and renowned teacher such as Harmon want anything to do with someone who isn't serious about his game? It isn't that Harmon doesn't care about Daly -- quite the opposite, actually. He cares enough to administer tough love, which probably won't work either, but at least he's trying.

As the Harmon incident illustrates, Daly's antics have been affecting his one-time promising career for years, forcing golf writers to follow the trail littered by beer cans and ex-wives that has become part of the Daly legend.

Personally, I've bought into Daly's appeal to the common man over the years, but that's changing very quickly with each incident. His act is getting old.

There wasn't a nicer story in golf than when the big guy blasted out of the sand to win the 2004 Buick Invitational, his first win since 1995. It seemed that Daly was on his way back, but it hasn't worked out that way.

The perception is he is more concerned with losing sponsors than working on his game, which is why Harmon severed the relationship, something he isn't likely do if Daly really is on the straight and narrow. If Daly has given up, his friends and fans haven't.

At the risk of sounding like a killjoy, Daly needs to temper his bizarre behaviour now more than ever, but he has given no indication that he intends to do so. Perhaps, it's time his fans and sponsors sent him a message.

At this end, I would prefer not to be like the evening entertainment tabloid shows that reported on three 20-something women hitting the wall as the whole world watched in twisted fascination. Daly has hit several walls in his career and keeps getting up. The fear is that he will hit one too hard and not get up?

Golf needs John Daly. His power alone is awesome and his touch around the greens is vastly underrated. He has a heart of gold and freely gives of his time to charities. He is a shot of personality in a game that needs free spirits, but there are limits. To send that message to J.D. only means caring about him.

In the world of fun and games, John Daly is worth saving.

Let's hope he agrees.


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