SOUTHPORT, England –
John Daly says he's more Mild Thing than Wild Thing these days, and he's still steamed at Butch Harmon, who cut ties with Daly earlier this year after reports of Daly drinking in a Hooters hospitality tent during the PODS Championship in Tampa in March.
Harmon told the Associated Press that "my whole goal for [Daly] was he's got to show me golf is the most important thing in his life. And the most important thing in his life is getting drunk."
Daly's response Wednesday to their coach-student split: "[Harmon] needs to stay as far away from me as possible."
Daly is at Royal Birkdale this week for the British Open, a tournament he won in 1995. Asked whether his "lifestyle issues" are making it more difficult for him to get sponsors' exemptions into tournaments, Daly took aim at his former coach.
"Most of that stuff started with Butch Harmon," Daly said. "His lies sort of destroyed me for awhile. He should be a real man and get his facts straight."
The facts of his behavior at the PODS, according to Daly, were that there was a rain delay on Thursday and he was near the Hooters tent, so he decided to wait it out there, where he drank only Diet Pepsi. While in the tent, he was invited to meet with Tampa Bay Buccaneers Coach Jon Gruden. Meanwhile, his regular caddie Peter Van Der Reit was suffering from a stiff neck. So when play resumed, Daly asked Gruden to caddie for him the rest of the way, to build interest for the tournament and the fans, Daly said.
"Then Saturday afternoon I missed the cut and [the tournament organizers] asked me if I'd go to the Hooters tent," Daly said. "Yeah, I had a couple beers, but big deal, I also signed about a thousand autographs."
Daly claims that he did talk to Harmon by phone after the EDS Byron Nelson Championship and that Harmon apologized and retracted his comments. However, Harmon later said that he stood by everything he 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," Harmon told ESPN.
Working on the Birkdale driving range Wednesday, Harmon responded to Daly's latest comments.
“John keeps denying that all of his problems are his own doing,” Harmon said. “He needs to take responsibility for his actions.”Daly said injuries -- not drinking -- are the true source of his struggles on the golf course. His doctor told him not to play this week, Daly said, because he has tendonitis in his left elbow. He also recently had calcium deposits removed from his right hand. But despite these ailments, Daly said his two weeks of practice in Arkansas prior to coming to England were the most time he's been able to dedicate to his game in the last couple years. Even injured, he said he feels he's close to playing good golf again.
The two weeks of practice in the sun also gave Daly a pretty deep tan. Asked about it, he laughed that "it's pretty hot in Arkansas and I can take my shirt off there and no one cares." (Photo: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)