Five-time British Open champion Peter Thomson is glad John Daly has been invited to play in the Australian Masters this week, but fellow Aussie Stuart Appleby calls Daly a "walking train wreck" and isn't sure luring him to Australia with an appearance fee is a smart move.
"Very few, I guess, make it look as effortless as John does, but I don't think John's here because of his world ranking ," Appleby says in the Sydney Morning Herald, in addition to other Australian newspapers. "I'm not quite sure how that works. I guess he's a walking train wreck and, unfortunately, people turn their heads to watch the train wreck."
Daly, who will have to rely on sponsor exemptions and past-champion status to get into PGA Tour events in 2009, told Golf Digest recently that he might play 10 to 15 events in Europe next year. This week's Australian Masters is co-sanctioned by the European Tour, as was the Hong Kong Open that Daly played in last week. Daly shot a bogey-free, eight-under-par 62 in the final round Sunday to finish tied for 17th.
Australasian tour chairman Peter Senior defended Daly's invitation to Australia.
"John's one of those guys who can perform or not perform," says Senior told the Sydney Morning Herald. "As a drawcard, I think he's great in any field. I wouldn't say he's a close friend, but I've spent quite a bit of time with John, and people don't realize he's just a normal, average guy. Unfortunately he gets into trouble now and then, but you can't help but like the guy."
Aussie Wayne Grady won the PGA Championship in 1990, a year before Daly became a household name by winning the PGA at Crooked Stick in Carmel, Ind. Grady is happy Daly is in Australia.
"He's exciting to watch," says Grady. "Anything can happen. Hopefully it's the start of his road back to playing well because he's not that old."
Appleby says in the Suncoast Daily Online that the "saving grace for John is that he's a good man," but that it doesn't excuse his behavior, or the decision of tournament organizers to bring him.
"It's symptomatic of world golf because he still runs around the world," Appleby said. "He's in Europe, he's in Asia, he's in Australia. It's not like we're desperate. Everybody's doing the same thing. John Daly is unique. We only wish â¿¿ he'd put a little more time into his game instead of ruining his personal life. He would be a drawcard, not just a freak show."