Commentary

Too little, too late for Daly revelations?

Originally Published: March 2, 2010
By Bob Harig | ESPN.com

Even for Big John, the numbers are gargantuan, surpassed only by the Diet Cokes and Peanut M&M's he consumes during a typical round of golf, which these days is anything but normal.

John Daly has always been bigger than life, a lightning rod for controversy, beloved for his everyman ways, seemingly always a step from disaster.

So the fact that Daly has a well-worn path to the PGA Tour's wrist-slap office is likely not a surprise.

Still, the number of warnings, fines, suspensions, double-secret probations and whatever else you want to call the punishment that has been dished out to Daly over the years is nothing short of stunning.

[+] EnlargeJohn Daly
Donald Miralle/Getty ImagesAfter missing the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open, John Daly talked about retirement. He clarified his statements on Twitter, saying he wouldn't quit the game.

The size and scope was reported by The Florida Times-Union, which was sued by Daly in 2005 and subsequently sought his PGA Tour personnel file, a whopping 456 pages. The documents, according to the Jacksonville-based Times-Union, became part of the court file this past fall after Daly dropped his appeal of a summary judgment.

And it brings into question, again, why the PGA Tour remains the only major sports organization to keep such matters private.

You would not necessarily expect the tour to divulge the fact that seven times over the years it has ordered Daly to undergo counseling or enter alcohol rehabilitation.

But what about his being placed on probation six times?

Or the 11 instances in which Daly was cited for "conduct unbecoming a professional"?

Or the 21 times he was called out for mailing it in, or "failure to give best efforts"?

Through all that in a period that covers 17 years, Daly was fined just under $100,000, which seems incredibly light for someone who was being punished, on average, more than once a year. That's a couple of hands of blackjack for Daly.

Is the tour afraid it would have to announce too many of these annoying indiscretions, that its players are not as pristine as advertised?

"We're comfortable with the policy," said Ty Votaw, the tour's vice president of communications and international affairs. "That remains our position."

As for announcing penalties to use as a deterrent, Votaw said: "All it really does is remind people of the action, as opposed to letting the action take place, dealing with it and moving on. If we announce it again, it just reminds people that something bad has happened."

Or perhaps it lets people know something happened at all. Although Daly has had his share of troubles over the years, many of them never were disclosed, his penalties never announced.

Yet last week, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem acknowledged that Tiger Woods has not been suspended. Finchem only went public with that, he said, to "clarify" an erroneous report that suggested Woods might have gotten the heavy hand from tour headquarters.

Although it is not difficult to figure out what lands a player in Finchem's doghouse, no transgressions -- whether something as seemingly benign as tossing a club or as serious as an arrest -- are announced. Or confirmed.

It was Daly himself who last year acknowledged that the tour had suspended him for six months. Otherwise, we would have been left to guess and wonder where Daly was, or what he was doing, or why he was more concerned about a reality television show than his game.

Still, Daly wasn't going to acknowledge all the offenses in his career, which included the charge that he nearly ran over a law enforcement agent after failing to stop at a security checkpoint at the 2005 U.S. Open, according to the newspaper.

Perhaps if the tour had announced Daly's missteps along the way, the series of embarrassing incidents might have been enough to keep him from committing the same errors over and over again.

After all, isn't part of punishment to curb the offensive behavior? Isn't humiliation and scorn part of the process?

The amount of fines is interesting if only because it is apparent the tour is not trying to send a message by separating a player from his hard-earned cash. For all Daly's woes over the years, he has not even racked up $10,000 a season in fines.

Now 44, Daly is well beyond public embarrassment, but fines and suspensions are surely more of a deterrent at this stage of his career. He simply cannot afford either. In the past four seasons, Daly has failed to crack the top 180 in PGA Tour earnings, and has made barely more than $100,000 the past two years.

Although in a fit of frustration a few weeks ago he announced he was "retiring" after a poor round in San Diego, Daly has made an effort to regain the form that saw him win five tournaments, including two major championships.

He has dropped nearly 100 pounds in the past year after lap-band surgery and has committed to playing in as many events as will have him.

Maybe it's not too late.

Then again, you wonder what might have happened to Daly had there been more public and punitive measures taken years ago.

Bob Harig covers golf for ESPN.com. He can be reached at BobHarig@gmail.com.

Bob Harig | email

Golf Writer, ESPN.com

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