Flamboyant American John Daly was on his best behaviour at Melbourne’s Woodlands Golf Club on Monday in his first public appearance since disgracing himself at the Australian Open.
The world No.666, who is facing the prospect of a ban from future events in Australia, won plenty of friends on his way to a one-over par 73, with playing partner and event sponsor Alan Eskander later describing him as “a fabulous bloke and delight to be with”.
Daly also went some way towards explaining his implosion at The Lakes, where he ran out of balls after spraying seven balls into the water at the 11th hole.
He said the incident had more to do with his ego than his temper.
“The bottom line is I ran out of balls. I didn’t give up on it or anything,” he said.
“It just got to the point where I could have laid up left of the water, but my ego got in the way. You get the adrenaline going, you know you can hit the dang shot and you get to a point where it’s not about scoring anymore, it’s about an ego thing.”
Daly added that he was regretful and embarrassed about the incident, but resisted suggestions that it was evidence of a return to his bad-boy days.
“For the fans and the Australian Open, I apologise for it happening, but it wasn’t one of those upset-type deals that I have,” he said.
“If you look at it in the context of my past, because of some of the things I’ve done, it might look bad. But if you look at it as present time, it’s actually humourous.”
Before teeing off on Monday, local professional Jarrod Lyle offered Daly a box of golf balls, setting the tone for a light-hearted round.
The one-time big drinker, who has been on the wagon for more than a year, polished off a six pack of Diet Coke during the round, admitting he had also developed an addiction for the soft drink.
Daly delighted the small Woodlands gallery, producing his driver on one of the tightest courses in Melbourne and continually knocking the ball 300m.
by Buford Balony