March 15, 2008

Golf Was Very Lucky

It was golf's good fortune last week that it wasn't some other form of entertainment, say a book or a movie. The Arnold Palmer Invitational started so dreadfully that no one would have stuck around to find out how it ended. How it ended was spectacularly, of course, Tiger Woods holing a 24-foot, downhill, left-to-right birdie putt on the last hole to extend his 2008 unbeaten streak to four.

"A good moment for golf," Johnny Miller said on the NBC telecast moments before Woods delivered the payoff for those who did stick around.

So it was. Leave it to Tiger, with no small assist from Bart Bryant, to come to the rescue, a good moment for golf ending the week to offset a bad moment for golf that began the week.

When the pre-tournament talk should have been exclusively about Woods' pursuit of his fifth straight PGA Tour victory dating to last year, John Daly was turning up in headlines, for the wrong reasons. Again.

Daly missed his Wednesday pro-am starting time, which resulted in his disqualification from the tournament (that's one DQ and one withdrawal already this year, for those keeping score). Meanwhile, his instructor, Butch Harmon, unceremoniously dumped Daly. "My whole goal for him was he's got to show me golf is the most important thing in his life," Harmon told the Associated Press. "And the most important thing in his life is getting drunk."

For his part, Daly seemed troubled by the fact that he heard about his sacking from someone other than Harmon. Imagine that: Daly accusing someone else of bad form. If the tour kept stats on gall, Daly would be the category leader on the basis of this alone.

Note to tournament directors who continue to bestow sponsors' exemptions on Daly: For the good of the gate should not supersede for the good of the game. Maybe no one can look good juxtaposed with Tiger Woods these days, but suffice it to say that no one looks worse than Daly.

It is a debit for golf that Daly continues to bring attention to the game in so unseemly a manner. It is an asset for golf that Woods is there to help restore its dignity.