John Daly drama unfolds at Torrey Pines
Phil Mickelson is a cheater. John Daly is a quitter.
Or maybe not, though Scott McCarron did assert Mickelson’s use of a controversial club was cheating and Daly did tell a producer for the Golf Channel that he was done with golf after rounds of 79 and 71 left the 43-year-old Daly not close to making the cut for the final two rounds of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.
“I’m done,” Daly said on camera. “I can’t compete. I can’t play like I used to.”
D.A. Points and Ryuji Imada, meanwhile, are your co-leaders after two rounds, at 11-under-par 133. Points had an eagle and a birdie on his last four holes on the South Course to finish with a 65 Friday.
Imada, who finished runner-up to Tiger Woods at this tournament in 2008, had a second-round 68 on the South Course. They are two shots ahead of Matt Every and Australian Michael Sim, who had a tournament-best 62 on the North Course.
Mickelson, the world’s second-ranked golfer who is playing his first tournament of the season, is among several players, including Daly, who are playing a Ping-Eye 2 wedge. It’s a 20-year-old line of clubs with square grooves which, as of Jan. 1, are banned by the U.S. Golf Assn.
Square grooves are deeper and typically provide more spin than USGA-approved V-shaped grooves. But the Ping club is still legal because the golf manufacturing company reached a lawsuit settlement in 1990 that stipulates any Ping-Eye 2 made before April 1, 1990, is allowed, superseding any rule change.
On Thursday, McCarron responded to Mickelson’s use of the Ping club by saying, “It’s cheating and I’m appalled Phil has put it in play.”
After his Friday round of 67 left him four shots behind the leaders, Mickelson said, “I agree that the rule, it’s a terrible rule. To change to something that has this kind of loophole is nuts. But it’s not up to me or any other player to interpret what the interpretation of the rule is or the spirit of the rule. I understand black and white. And I think that myself or any other player is allowed to play those clubs because they’re approved. End of story.”
Other players seemed to come down on McCarron’s side. Imada, for example, wouldn’t say Mickelson was cheating but did say he wouldn’t use the club.
“It is what it is,” Imada said. “The rules are rules and if it’s allowed by the rules of golf, sure, you can use it. But I don’t agree with it. I don’t know how else to say it. I don’t consider it cheating. . . . I don’t agree with the fact that some guys are being able to use a wedge that’s not conforming -- well, it is conforming. But it’s not.”
The PGA Tour issued a statement Friday saying, “We will monitor this situation as we move forward, and under our tournament regulations, we do have the ability to make a local rule which would not allow the clubs. There’s been no decision at this time.”
Daly was actually the first golfer to use the club this year, two weeks ago at the Sony Open in Hawaii. It apparently hasn’t been a game changer for the popular player whose occasional spectacular golf has been interrupted often by spectacular personal problems.
The Golf Channel has been following Daly for more than a year for a reality show called “Being John Daly.” The eight-episode show is scheduled to debut March 2 and a producer caught Daly in the parking lot as he was leaving the tournament Friday.
“I can’t keep taking spots from guys out here playing this bad,” he said on camera. “It’s not worth it. I’m tired of embarrassing myself. I can’t do it anymore.”
Daly, who had lost more than 100 pounds coming into this season after stomach surgery last year, has walked away from the game in the past and even his caddie told the reality show production crew he was hoping Daly’s comments were made only in the heat of a disappointing moment.
During the first two rounds, Daly’s galleries were among the biggest on the course, a boost for this tournament where Woods has traditionally made his season debut.
Even though Woods is on a self-imposed sabbatical as he deals with the fallout of revelations of his marital infidelities, he too made the Golf Channel broadcast because there was a discussion over comments Tom Watson made on a Kansas City, Mo., television station. Watson said of Woods’ behavior, “It’s bad for our game. It’s something he needs to get control of and a handle on and make some amends and show some humility to the public when he comes back.”
But when Woods comes back, will he include the Ping-Eye 2 in his bag?