Golf: The call that brought Daly dread

First Tee

IT LOOKS as if John "Wild Thing" Daly has made his final appearance through the swing-doors of the Last Chance Saloon. Daly has lost his main sponsor, Callaway Golf, who claimed he violated a clause in his contract not to drink or gamble.

"We care a great deal about John as a person, a golfer, and a friend and we're grateful for the time he successfully supported the company," said Ely Callaway, the 80-year-old chairman who hired Daly two years ago when other sponsors, including Wilson, dropped him like a hot potato. "Regrettably, we cannot have John as a company representative when he is not prepared to take the steps we feel are necessary to deal with the alcohol and gambling problems facing him." Daly was told to hand over his Big Bertha driver when he was summoned to the Callaway headquarters in California. "My commitment to live a sober life remains strong," Daly said. "Alcoholism is a disease which will continue to challenge me for the rest of my life."

Callaway did not say where or when Daly violated the clauses only that it was confirmed by one of its employees. We hope the sneak is not made employee of the month.

The bookie's dilemma

BY AND LARGE, sponsors want to see their tournament won by a household name rather than a journeyman and, in the case of the puritanical Americans, preferably one with a halo above his visor. When the Victor Chandler British Masters reached its startling conclusion last week, the bookmaker didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

Colin Montgomerie, leading by three strokes going into the final round, was, as they say in racing circles, a dead cert. But then a dark horse by the name of Bob May came through on the rails. There was compensation for Chandler. Not only was his company made the official bookmaker to the European Tour - such a thing would be anathema to the US Tour in general and John Daly in particular - but Monty's loss was Chandler's gain. Nobody backed May and the on-course betting shop made pounds 50,000. Had Monty won, Chandler would have paid out pounds 70,000.

Tour de farce

THE EUROPEAN Tour and Sky television have settled their differences over the proposed coverage of the Ryder Cup. Sky planned to show the event on Sky Box Office - usually reserved for pay per view but in this case free to subscribers.

However, that would have prevented subscribers to ONdigital watching, as they only get Sky Sports 1 and 3 as part of their package. The European Tour and Ryder Cup Ltd were so annoyed they issued legal proceedings. Sky said they were "flabbergasted" by the reaction. "Millions more people would be able to see the Ryder Cup than if it were shown on Sky Sports 1," the company said.

So a bizarre compromise was reached: Sky will show it on Box Office with three hours a day on Sky Sports 2 which, of course, is not available to ONdigital. Which is where the row began. The European Tour said they were "delighted there would be coverage on the contracted Sky Sports channel where golf is traditionally seen."

Since when? The Tour wouldn't have got itself into this mess if it had not sold out to Sky in the first place. If it was genuinely concerned about audience figures it should have stayed with the BBC.

The oddjob men

"GOLDFINGER IS cheating," Bond said to his caddie. "Oddjob has dropped a ball down his trousers." Caddie: "How do you know?" Bond: "Because I'm standing on the original."

The famous golf match between James Bond and Goldfinger - Bond won at the 18th before Oddjob decapitated a statue in front of the clubhouse with his bowler hat - was filmed at the historic Stoke Park, which encompasses Stoke Poges Golf Course. On Friday the club will shake martinis rather than stir them when it renews its 007 licence by hosting an inaugural fund-raising golf day for the Ian Fleming Foundation.

The Foundation, dedicated to honouring the work of Bond's creator, an avid golfer, was established in America with the aim of creating a museum and a literary scholarship.

Sean Connery, who took the money in that infamous match in 1964, was invited to attend but had to decline because of film commitments. Bond would have enjoyed Stoke Poges, with its 21 marble bedrooms refurbished at a cost of a quarter of a million pounds each. What he may not have enjoyed is that the Ian Fleming challenge has a shotgun start. Surely they would use a Walther PPK automatic.

Lawrie's lament

THE PGA of America has changed the dates of the Grand Slam of Golf - a nice little earner in Hawaii for the winners of the four majors, to make sure Tiger Woods can play in the tournament. While they accommodated the world's No 1 by moving the Slam back one week to 23-24 November, it did no favours for Paul Lawrie. Forced to choose between the Slam, originally scheduled for 16-17 November, and representing Scotland for the first time in the World Cup, which begins on 18 November in Malaysia, Lawrie opted for Hawaii to compete for the $1m purse. However, Woods, will play in both. As First Tee revealed last week, he and his buddy Mark O'Meara are receiving $1.5m to appear in Malaysia.

Game for the hereafter

GOLFING CLIENTS of White Light, a firm based in Texas that makes caskets, the American euphemism for coffins, are taking the game to grave lengths. White Light, of course, don't just make any old caskets but customised steel boxes with a photo-laminate mural adorning the lid. While the dearly departed can choose from a variety of designs, fanatical golfers (is there any other kind?) can opt for the "fairway to heaven" range and rest in peace under the tranquil setting of a golf course. It brings new meaning to the phrase "hitting it stiff".

Pure genius

A FINAL word from Peter McEvoy, captain of the GB and Ireland Walker Cup team who out-played the US at Nairn last week: "The Walker Cup is pure golf, the real thing. The Ryder Cup is just a commercial copy."

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