SOUTHPORT, England (July 16) - Two-time British Open champion John Daly on Wednesday accused former coach Butch Harmon of lying and smearing his reputation, and warned him to stay as far away as possible. Harmon cut ties with Daly in March after saying the player was devoting too much time to partying and too little to practicing.
"I think his lies kind of destroyed my life for a little bit," Daly said during a wide-ranging news conference on the eve of the tournament."I don't know what his problem is," Daly added, "but he needs to stay as far away from me as he possibly can."
Daly said Harmon's comments cost him endorsements and caused him considerable pain, in part because they echoed the criticism he received early in his career about being lazy, occasionally reckless and often turning to alcohol in the face of mounting problems.
But Daly insisted his reputation was overblown. "I'm eating too much, but I'm not drinking hardly at all, and I never go out," Daly said. "So it's funny to just sit back and look at it. I guess that's just the way my life is going to be for a long time, because of my past."
Harmon, though, wasn't in the mood to apologize for anything he said about his former pupil. He'd worked with Daly only three times this year, but said there was no chance he could help him improve without a real commitment.
"I'm sorry JD feels that way. I like JD," Harmon said at the practice range after hearing about Daly's comments. "He's a good guy. But he needs to step up to the plate and take responsibility for his actions instead of blaming everybody else."
The incident that led Harmon to dump Daly came during the PODS Championship. Daly ducked into a corporate tent during a 2 1/2-hour rain delay in the first round, already 3 over, and when play resumed, he'd replaced his caddie with Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden. Daly shot 77, then followed that up with an 80 and missed the cut.
The next week, Daly was kicked out of the Arnold Palmer Invitational for missing his tee time in the pro-am, triggering a tour rule that automatically makes players who miss the pro-am ineligible to play the regular tournament. Daly blamed a woman in the tournament office for giving him the wrong starting time.
Daly lost his full PGA Tour card two years ago and relies mainly on sponsor exemptions to play tournaments. His last win came in 2004, and he blamed injuries for the steady decline in his play since. He said he decided to play here against his doctor's advice.
"I've got tendinitis in my left elbow and I had a cyst in my right hand ... that we thought was arthritis. So it's just been one thing after another," he said. "I'm just looking forward to playing."