State of the Hogs: John Daly

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This is the time of year I get addicted to the golf channel. When Tiger Woods is hot, my affliction only gets worse. The way the golf channel features the game's best-ever player only raises my TV times.

If you like golf, you can spend hours and hours watching the golf channel. I have found myself seeing the daily Tiger feature two and three times before I switch back to American Idol, the Bachelor or Men in Trees.

I don't mind the repeat of the Tiger updates so much as I did the John Daly stories the last two nights. It pained me to see those close-ups of John's swollen face when he tried to explain how he spent the rain delays from the PODS tournament in the Hooters tent that led to Butch Harmon dumping him as a student. Then, there was the mess-up on his pro-am tee time that disqualified him from Arnold Palmer's tournament.

I saw that interview three times. I winced each time as the Golf Channel showed John playing with a ball cap with the Razorback logo. I ache to see NCAA women's champ Stacy Lewis on the Golf Channel with a Razorback ball cap, or perhaps All-American Andrew Landry or youngster Sam Chavez. These current Razorback stars (true freshman Chavez shot an under par closing round in the Callaway tournament this week for his first top 20 event as a collegian) are the ones who need to be the face of Razorback golf, instead of Daly.

None of this is good for the Arkansas image. But I guess we have to take the good with the bad when it comes to John Daly. I just don't know if there is going to be any more good.

Unfortunately, he seems to be facing more and more injuries. That big swing that Harmon wanted to fix isn't easy on the ligaments, muscles and bones in John's huge body.

That's one reason I had hope for John when I heard Harmon had become his swing coach. Had to figure Butch was going to do some things to cut down on what has to be the longest swing ever to do anything great on the PGA Tour. Maybe it was just a doomed relationship from the start. Cutting down John's swing had to be a pipe dream.

The sad part is that Harmon didn't need to call such attention to the breakup. Perhaps Butch thought he would be helping John by shaming him.

But it almost sounded like he was bragging about his ethics more than scolding John when I listened to his good-bye speech. I kinda sided with John when he said, "I just wish Butch would have called me. I love him to death, but I think he should have called me first and I could have explained some things."

The truth is that John always does have an explanation. However, it's hard to explain away some things. Like the scratches on his face from the tangle he had with his wife. Like the long hours and many beers in the Hooters tent. Like not showing up for the pro-am Wednesday.

The pro-am is the lifeblood of the PGA Tour. The idea that it happened at Palmer's tournament is a back breaker.

There isn't a golf pro alive that doesn't know the reason Arnold is called the king. Because of Arnie's Army, purses in the early 60s went off the chart. It's the reason the PGA Tour became viable as a career. Palmer's success at building huge gates all across the country isn't much different than what Tiger has done for the Golf Channel as far as selling huge amounts of advertising.

Daly did try to apologize for that mistake, noting he "loves Arnold to death." No one doubts that. There's just no way to explain how someone with a sponsor's exemption doesn't communicate well enough to know his pro-am tee time.

The good news is also the bad news. Daly is still a crowd favorite. That scares me. He's still going to be invited to plenty of tournaments this year despite falling out of the exempt list. He was in Arnold's tournament this week on a sponsor's exemption, the same way he's played in every other tournament this season.

The PGA Tour is not going to suspend Daly or do anything to hurt their gates. Daly is still going to be around and he's still going to be the same. He's going to find the Hooter's tent. He's going to keep doing all the things that make him John Daly.

Don't get me wrong. I pull for John. I respect his talent and he may be the most talented golfer of all time. I'm like so many of his other fans that understand he has to fight his own demons just like the rest of us.

I just wish we didn't have to see him fight them so often.




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