Harmon says he won't retract anything he's said about Daly

Updated: April 30, 2008, 8:36 PM ET
By Bob Harig | ESPN.com

Golf instructor Butch Harmon spoke to John Daly last week, but said he did not offer an apology for parting ways with the troubled golfer after reports that Daly had been drinking in a hospitality tent at a March PGA Tour event.

Daly, at the Spanish Open in Seville, Spain, said at a news conference Wednesday that Harmon had apologized to him after learning that the two-time major champion had "lost quite a bit of money through the stuff that you said."

I told him that he had no one to blame but himself, that 'until you start realizing that you're the cause of all this and get some help, you're going to continue to have problems.' I told him I would be glad to help. But I wasn't going to retract anything that I said.

-- Butch Harmon

Reached Wednesday at his golf school near Las Vegas, Harmon had a different version of the conversation.

"John called me last Thursday," Harmon said. "His opening line to me was 'I've lost all my contracts because of what you said. Can you please go on the Golf Channel and make a retraction?'

"I told him that he had no one to blame but himself, that 'until you start realizing that you're the cause of all this and get some help, you're going to continue to have problems.' I told him I would be glad to help. But I wasn't going to retract anything that I said."

Daly, who turned 42 on Monday, has five PGA Tour titles but has played poorly the past two years and needs sponsors' exemptions to get into tournaments.

His past is littered with reports of gambling debts and drinking to excess, but at the beginning of this year Harmon -- who has worked with the likes of Greg Norman, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott and many others -- agreed to help Daly with his golf game.

Among Harmon's requests was that Daly show him that golf was the most important thing in his life. "And the most important thing in his life is getting drunk," Harmon said when he decided to drop Daly.

That occurred when Harmon learned of Daly's behavior at the PODS Championship in March. During a first-round weather delay, Daly spent the afternoon in the Hooters Owl's Nest, a hospitality venue where free beer was available. When play resumed, Daly had recruited Tampa Bay Buccaneers football coach Jon Gruden to be his caddie for the rest of the round.

After missing the cut, Daly spent most of Saturday afternoon back at the same venue. He was seen drinking beer and signing autographs and at one point gave the finger to a Tampa Tribune photographer. Daly later said the gesture was made in fun.

But Harmon didn't think it was funny. Three days later, he said he would no longer work with Daly.

"The partying and other shenanigans, if that's the way he wants to be, I don't choose to be a part of it," Harmon said.

After what Butch said ... my marketability went right down. I told him, 'you cost me quite a bit of money through the stuff that you said, I wish you would have called me then you could have got the facts straight.'

-- John Daly

Daly then garnered more negative headlines when he failed to show up on time for his Wednesday pro-am time at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. That meant automatic disqualification from the tournament.

Now having dropped to 595th in the world, Daly said in Spain that news reports of his partying and drinking were "a bunch of lies," and that he attended the hospitality venue to help a charity.

"I called [Harmon] the other day and he said he realized he didn't get his facts right and he felt bad about it," Daly said Wednesday. "He has apologized to me. After what Butch said … my marketability went right down. I told him, 'You cost me quite a bit of money through the stuff that you said, I wish you would have called me when you could have got the facts straight.'"

Daly recently had surgery on his ribs and is playing this week in Spain and next week in Italy. But Harmon said he won't be helping him with his game.

"That won't ever happen," Harmon said. "I like John Daly and wish him well. I hope he gets his act together. … I saw this ridiculous video the other day of him playing without his shirt and shoes. He does one bizarre thing after another. I feel sorry for him. He's a tremendous talent. But he's wasted all of his talent and continues to do so."

Bob Harig covers golf for ESPN.com. He can be reached at BobHarig@gmail.com. Information from Reuters is included in this report.

Bob Harig | email

Golf Writer, ESPN.com

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