Golf, it has been said, is a good ride in a cart spoiled.
Except that’s not the saying, and it is that miscarriage of idiom that has ensnared 53-year-old John Daly in controversy once more.
The Royal and Ancient Golf Club, which oversees the British Open, denied his request to use a golf cart in the event this month at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland.
Daly wasn’t happy with the decision.
“Quite disappointed that [the R&A] don’t see it the same way our PGA of America and PGA Tour sees it,” he said Saturday on Twitter. “Different continents different laws???
“As a proud Open Champion I know what the Open Championship represents and what a special tournament it is. I believe all who have earned the right to compete should be afforded that right to compete and give it their best shot. While I trust the R&A’s decision was made with good intentions, I could not disagree more with their conclusions.”
The 148th Open at Royal Portrush…… pic.twitter.com/RAOLQUmfLY
— John Daly (@PGA_JohnDaly) July 6, 2019
Daly said that although he needs knee surgery, he planned to “give it a shot in 2 weeks at Portrush. Fingers crossed I can make it thru the pain.”
Days later, however, the R&A said in a statement that Daly has withdrawn from the tournament, according to Golf.com.
Daly was allowed the use of a golf cart for the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black but shot 75-76 and missed the cut.
“Having considered all of the relevant factors, the Championship Committee has decided to decline his request,” it said. “The R&A believe that walking the course is an integral part of the Championship and is central to the tradition of links golf which is synonymous with The Open. We must also ensure that, as far as possible, the challenge is the same for all players in the field.”
It’s hard to argue with the logic insofar as the average 18-hole PGA course is about 7,200 yards in total length, and there is a definite physical endurance component to walking well over four miles and standing while your playing partners take their turns on the course.
Furthermore, the Open course’s terrain offers unique challenges to the ambulatory golfer. Royal Portrush is notoriously hilly, and climbing those slopes is as much a part of completing a round there as is hitting the ball over them.
The club itself does not allow golf carts. As the R&A’s statement said, “The terrain at Royal Portrush is not suited to buggies and indeed the club itself does not permit their use. We have a serious concern that some parts of the course, where there are severe slopes and swales, would be inaccessible.”
The tournament committee did, however, acknowledge Daly’s contribution to golf history; he was the 1995 Open champion at St. Andrews in Scotland.
“This is not a decision we have taken lightly but we believe it is the right one for The Open,” the R&A said. “John has a special place in our hearts as a Champion Golfer and he will always be welcome at the Championship both at Royal Portrush and in future.”
The idea of anyone being able to eliminate a crucial part of playing at Royal Portrush, injury or no injury, was ultimately deemed unacceptable, and Daly’s request was denied.
On the bright side, Kevin Streelman, the first alternate, just got some great news about where he’ll be spending a weekend in mid-July, and it’s now up to him to make his chance count.
Here we go pic.twitter.com/hJr0g1xQFY
— Kevin Streelman (@Streels54) July 9, 2019
“There is now a space for you if you’d like to play?” the email reads, to which Streelman said in his tweet, “Yes please.”
The 148th Open Championship begins July 18.
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