'Wild Thing' in hot water Down Under after deliberately running out of balls


There is only one golfer who could take the spotlight away from Tiger Woods, in this of all weeks. Step forward, John Daly. And then depart the scene, stage left, with noises off and a hail of ignominy.

This was the 30th time, the "Wild Thing" has withdrawn from a tournament mid-round – but it will probably be the last in Australia. Furious officials in Sydney vowed never to invite back the two-time major champion and pleaded with the two main tours to punish the American. Unlike with Steve Williams and those racist remarks, this is one request golf's powers will likely heed. It's not as if it will be the first time. Certainly Daly is due sanction, for roughly the 35th time, after a performance which must be considered petulant and unprofessional even by his low standards. He was just 11 holes through his first round of the Australian Open at The Lakes in New South Wales when he ripped the Velcro off his glove, shook his stunned partner's hands and with young son in tow marched to the clubhouse. But if the exit was bizarre then the acts leading up to it were surreal.

First he hit the wrong ball in a bunker on the 10th, incurring a two-shot penalty. Then, after finding the lake on the next, fired five more balls into the water hazard. By the climax he meant to; each time holding out his hand to his caddie, while counting the balls down. He had run up 15 shots by the time his ball-pocket was empty. The last was aimed in the middle of the pond "When you run out of balls, you run out of balls," the 45-year-old later tweeted. He might well have run out of golfing lives.

This was Daly's third withdrawal since September and the Australian authorities did not take it lightly. The world No 666's invite to the Australian PGA in two weeks' time has already been withdrawn. Trevor Herden, the tournament director, urged the PGA Tour and European Tour, both of which Daly is a member, to take action. "They need to deal with this in the most serious fashion," he said. "I would say this is the last time we will see John Daly. If you run out of balls... you call a rules official and we will... replenish his stock," he said.

Meanwhile, there was a golf tournament going on with Tiger Woods recording a commendable 68, four-under, three off Jarrod Lyle's lead.