by Jeff Skinner
It is a strange period in men’s professional golf. For months the biggest headlines have been concerned with issues off the course. Tiger’s scandal has dominated the sports pages like few stories ever have. With the season well under way and the PGA Tour moving into the Florida swing we should be allowed to concentrate on the golf inside the ropes but it’s not that easy.
Yesterday was a unique day in golf. We saw both the class of the game and the ass of the game in action. It is embarrassing that I use Jack Nicklaus’ name and John Daly’s name in the same sentence but it is those two that represent the aforementioned monikers. Jack Nicklaus is without a doubt the class of the game of golf and he once again showed why when he played at the Honda Classic Pro-Am. John Daly is most certainly the ass of the tour and his actions again showed why he has no close competition.
The Honda Classic is a tournament that was revitalized a few years ago when new management decided to revamp the classic tour stop. The Honda has found a home on the Nicklaus re-designed PGA National course and has even been able to recruit The Golden Bear to be part of the festivities. The people that run The Honda made a clever move when they made the Jack and Barbara Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation their primary charity. If you want to get Jack on board, give to his charity. It usually works. So the greatest golfer ever was asked if he would play and with the dollars from the Honda Classic going to his charity he was more than willing.
Nicklaus played with an amateur foursome that was stacked with big names and fanatical golfers. Drew Brees, Dan Marino and Kenny G filled out Jack’s foursome and were the highlight of the day at The Honda Classic. Nicklaus said he truly appreciates that the guys come out to help raise money and that the tournament couldn’t happen without the volunteers. “There’s a lot of guys that make the golf tour what it is. It’s not all the golfers. The golfers are certainly a very, very big part of the golf tour, but there are a lot of people who are volunteers who give of their time, people who work hard — if we had to pay for this, golf tournaments would never happen.”
Check out the video and watch Nicklaus at his self-effacing best. He says his game isn’t “for public consumption” but watch him hole one from the bunker. As recent events demonstrate, there are few things we can count on. But we can always be sure of this: the sun will rise and the sun will set and Jack Nicklaus will always be the class of golf.
At the opposite end of the class spectrum sits John Daly. For the past year we have been subjected to another of John’s comebacks. We have seen it before, he straightens his life out for awhile and then he backtracks into issues and trouble. This time it appeared like he may have actually turned the corner as witnessed by his lost weight and the way he has changed his personal life.
We all have been subjected to the bombardment of Daly promotions on The Golf Channel and we have seen Daly say that this is his last chance to get it right. Well, if Daly hadn’t used up all the good will he already had, he certainly screwed the pooch yesterday when he used his twitter account to attack a writer.
Garry Smits wrote an article on Daly that included a list of the PGA Tour’s disciplinary actions towards Daly. He recounts most of Daly’s problems on tour which included fines and suspensions for his unprofessional behavior. It is rare to have these facts become public because the PGA Tour never releases any of its disciplinary actions on any player. Daly’s record was made public because it was part of a lawsuit that Daly had initiated and subsequently lost. Now there was nothing new about the actions of Daly but it is the actions that the PGA Tour took towards Daly that made headlines. We all knew of Daly’s problems before this report. Daly would like us to think that this type of behavior was done with. This was supposed to be his final comeback. That was until Daly, at his own self-destructive best, pulled another bit that will most likely garner another fine. He posted the phone number of the author, Smits, on his Twitter account and told his followers to flood him with calls. Do I need to say how wrong, immature and unprofessional this is?
John has done it again. Just when you think he can’t sink any lower, he finds a new way to crawl even lower. This was just plain wrong. Daly needs to grow up but you have to wonder if he ever will. How many chances does a man get? I think Daly may have just used his last one.
It’s amazing that this game can claim two such talented golfers on the course while at the same time the difference between the two could not be any greater. Jack’s the class of golf while John does his best to remain the ass of golf.