PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem stressed in a players meeting last week the importance of having a professional appearance. About the same time, a video was making the rounds of John Daly looking anything but that.
Daly was in Branson, Mo., at a golf course that bears his name, John Daly’s Murder Rock Golf and Country Club, for a television appearance. He showed up wearing only blue jeans – no shoes, socks or shirt, and played with a local TV anchor.
Finchem declined to say whether he has spoken to Daly, but he made his expectations quite clear Tuesday.
“There are certain things about presentation that we must insist on,” Finchem said. “There are certain things about presentation that are not going to be tolerated. I think that the world changes and you make adjustments, but I think perhaps we need to be more direct in our comments to players about specific do’s and don’ts, and increase focus in that area to make sure that we have a level of professionalism going forward that we’re comfortable with.”
It was the latest incident with Daly that some found offensive.
Two months ago at the PODS Championship, he spent a rain delay in a Hooters tent, then used Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden as his caddie for the final few holes. Daly was playing on a sponsor’s exemption.
That led swing coach Butch Harmon to fire Daly for spending more time drinking than working on his game. Daly said last week that Harmon called and apologized for such harsh comments, and how it cost Daly his endorsements.
Harmon said he never apologized to Daly, then offered a quick look Tuesday at a text message he sent Daly that urged the two-time major champion to start taking responsibility for his own actions.
INNISBROOK ACTION: Innisbrook wondered if it would have a tournament next year. Now there’s a chance for two.
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem inadvertently announced Tuesday that officials were close to a deal with a new title sponsor for the March event north of Tampa.
He was asked about the search for sponsors in Tampa and Atlanta.
“Well, help me out here. I thought we announced Tampa,” Finchem said. “Did we announce Tampa?”
This led to some stammering by his staff, who informed him there had not been an official announcement on the Tampa event.
“Well, we have two big problems. One is Tampa,” Finchem said, pausing to join the laughter. “And one is Atlanta. And I think I’m not supposed to say anything else. It’s still our intention to fill the title positions in those two tournaments. If we are not done in Tampa, we are very close to being done.”
Meanwhile, LPGA Tour officials have made two site visits to Innisbrook as it considers a new tournament. But while the men play on the Copperhead Course, resort owner Sheila Johnson is interested in having the LPGA Tour on the renovated Island Course.
Brittany Lincicome said she was asked to take part in an official site visit in March. LPGA Tour officials declined comment.
NO CADDIES ALLOWED: A half-dozen players not eligible for the pro-am last week on the LPGA Tour were on the putting green, with their caddies standing on the fringe. That’s courtesy of a daft new policy that bans caddies from being on the practice green between the hours of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Turns out a couple of players were having a putting contest when a caddie was standing in their line. They asked him to move, he did, but that wasn’t enough. They went to the commissioner to complain about crowded conditions on the green, and a new policy was enacted.
The fine for a caddie being on the green — to work with his player’s mechanics or retrieve balls from the cup — is $500.
The policy even applies to the chipping area, and it’s peculiar to see players hit three or four chips, then shag their own golf balls.
Count Juli Inkster among those who think the policy is bordering on ridiculous.
“You know what? It’s women,” she said when asked for a comment. “If you just put that down, everyone will know what you mean. Just capitalize ‘women’ and you don’t need to explain anything else.”
RITA REUNION: There were plenty of hugs to go around in the caddie lunch room Tuesday when longtime looper Greg Rita, who is battling brain cancer, stopped by for a visit.
Rita, who caddied for Curtis Strange when he won back-to-back U.S. Opens and for John Daly when he won the British Open, had a malignant tumor removed and recently overcame a nasty bout with pneumonia. He is going through physical, cognitive and rehabilitative therapy five days a week.
“I played hooky today,” said Rita, who looked fit and hopes to take his son to the zoo on Sunday.
Rita said a Golfweek magazine report that four-time major champion Raymond Floyd sent him a $50,000 check was overstated, saying the check was for $2,500 to help with expenses. But he was no less grateful, especially since he never worked for Floyd.
“I got his address from the check and wrote him a note,” Rita said. “It was very kind of him.”
SPIN OF THE WEEK: The PGA Tour says that 49 of the top 50 players in the FedEx Cup standings are at The Players Championship.
But it only has 45 of the top 50 from the world ranking, making it the fourth-strongest field of the year using that criteria, behind two World Golf Championships and the Masters.
DIVOTS: The Players Championship raised its prize money to $9.5 million, with $1.71 million going to the winner. … The Golf Channel did not send a camera or even a reporter last week to the SemGroup Championship, where Lorena Ochoa was going for a record-tying fifth consecutive victory in six weeks. … Of the 144-man field at The Players Championship, 101 players have won PGA Tour events. … It took four months for someone named Kim to win this year. The surprise was that it happened on the PGA Tour, with Anthony Kim winning the Wachovia Championship. … Phil Mickelson will try to become the first player to win back-to-back at The Players Championship. Jack Nicklaus tied for fifth in 1977, the best finish by a defending champion.
STAT OF THE WEEK: There has not been a playoff at The Players Championship since 1987, the longest streak on the PGA Tour.
FINAL WORD: “If he were here, I’d tease him and say he wasn’t that much of a factor in the past. So what’s the difference?” — Jim Furyk, on the absence of Tiger Woods at The Players Championship. Woods has not finished in the top 10 since winning in 2001.