Daly cart controversy mars US PGA lead-up

 os.nine.com.au  05/15/2019 08:35:20   AAP/WWOS

The PGA of America has defended the decision to allow John Daly to use a golf cart at this week's US PGA Championship in New York, starting Thursday night (AEST).

Daly, 53, had his request to use a buggy at Bethpage Black approved under the Americans With Disabilities Act because of a knee problem.

“My knee is screwed. I had the meniscus cut out. I have osteoarthritis so bad ... I can walk up a hill, I just can't walk down one," Daly told Associated Press.

But the decision to allow Daly to play using the cart has drawn criticism in the lead-up to the major.

"I think walking is an integral part of being a pro golfer," Nick Faldo, a six-time major champion, said.

"The physical element of walking and being able to do that. I’d keep it as simple as that."

John Daly will use a cart in this week's US PGA. (AAP)

Masters champion Tiger Woods seemed less than impressed by Daly being afforded a special dispensation to use the cart, quipping: "Well, I walked with a broken leg", in reference to the final round of his 2008 US Open victory.

And it's worth considering that 2017 US PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas had to withdraw from this year's tournament due to an ongoing wrist injury. Thomas wasn't fit enough to compete, and by the same logic, if Daly's knee injury is keeping him from competing under the same conditions as the rest of the field, there lies the issue, raising questions of 'special treatment' to an injured player who maybe should have just withdrawn.

Woods takes shot at Daly over cart

Daly, a former British Open champion, is currently down at 1,848 in the world rankings, but has a lifetime exemption in the US PGA Championship following his 1991 triumph at Crooked Stick. However, PGA of America's chief championships officer Kerry Haigh maintained the correct decision had been reached.

"In this case, John went through the process, sent in the information that we request of any and all players that this applies to," Haigh said.

"We have a committee that meet, which includes a medical expert, and they review the information, and it was agreed that it justified the use of a golf cart for the championship."

Haigh confirmed it would be a topless golf cart and that he was set to meet with Daly to "just talk through where he can go and can't go around the venue."

There is a warning sign posted on the Black Course, which is "extremely difficult" and "recommended only for highly skilled golfers".

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John Daly and Brooks Koepka (AAP)
THE 101ST US PGA CHAMPIONSHIP

WHEN IS IT?

The PGA Championship moves to May for the first time since 1949. The 101st edition of the tournament begins on May 16 with the final day's play on May 19, 2019. Tee times start from 8.45pm (AEST) on Thursday evening. Follow live scores from the event here!

WHERE IS IT?

Bethpage State Park (Black Course) hosts this year's US PGA Championship. The course has a par 70, and is 7,459 yards long. The last major at Bethpage Black was the 2009 U.S. Open, which was so wet and sloppy that it took five days to get in 72 holes.

HOW TO FOLLOW

Wide World of Sports will have in-depth coverage of the 2019 US PGA Championship with the latest news, highlights and analysis. Check out the live leaderboard for updates as they happen!

Jason Day signs autographs (AAP)

AUSSIES IN ACTION

Australians Jason Day, Adam Scott, Marc Leishman, Cameron Smith, Brendan Jones, Lucas Herbert, Craig Hocknull, and Stuart Deane will fly the flag at Bethpage.

WHAT HAPPENED LAST YEAR

Brooks Koepka blocked out the cheers for a charging Tiger Woods with two birdies on the back nine at Bellerive for a 4-under 66 and a two-shot victory over Woods. In oppressive heat in St. Louis, Koepka finished at 264 to set the PGA Championship record and tie Henrik Stenson (2016 British Open) for lowest 72-hole score at all majors. Koepka became only the fifth player to win the U.S. Open and PGA Championship in the same year, and the first since Woods in 2000.

Brooks Koepka (AAP)

TIGER CHASING HISTORY

Tiger Woods ended 11 years without a major by winning the Masters last month for his 15th major, three behind the record held by Jack Nicklaus. A victory at the US PGA Championship would tie him with Nicklaus with five PGA titles. Woods previously won at Bethpage at the 2002 U.S. Open.

TEE TIMES

There are 156 players (136 tour pros, 20 club pros) taking part in the tournament. For a full list of tee times from the 2019 draw, click here!

THE CONTENDERS

Dustin Johnson (USA)

World ranking: 1.

Majors: U.S. Open (2016).

Victories this year in Mexico City and Saudi Arabia. With Johnson, it always seems there should be more, especially majors. He lost a one-shot lead in Hilton Head. He was runner-up at the Masters, but only because he finished strong. One major in 12 years is not enough for his talent.

Tiger Woods (USA)

World ranking: 6.

Majors: Masters (1997, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2019), PGA Championship (1999, 2000, 2006, 2007), U.S. Open (2000, 2002, 2008), British Open (2000, 2005, 2006).

Woods is the only player in the stroke-play era to win the PGA in consecutive years. Woods did that twice. He won the 2002 U.S. Open for the second leg of the calendar Grand Slam. His victory at the Masters puts Woods on top of the golf world in the eyes of fans given the magnitude of his comeback. The last time Augusta National and Bethpage Black were the opening two majors, he won the both in 2002. Woods has not played since winning the Masters, the first time he won a major having to contend with so many players on the back nine.

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy (AAP)

Rory McIlroy (NIR)

World ranking: 4.

Majors: PGA Championship (2012, 2014), U.S. Open (2011), British Open (2014).

His shot at the career Grand Slam gone for the year, McIlroy looks to add to his major championship total. Along with his win at The Players Championship, he has finished in the top 10 in every tournament he has played this year except for the Masters.

Brooks Koepka (USA)

World ranking: 3.

Majors: PGA Championship (2018), U.S. Open (2017, 2018).

Will try to join Tiger Woods has the only back-to-back winners of the PGA Championship in stroke play. Woods did it twice. He is 47-under par in his last five appearances in the PGA Championship. In six of his last nine majors, he has three wins, a runner-up finish and has not finished worse than a tie for sixth.

Francesco Molinari (ITA)

World ranking: 7.

Majors: British Open (2018).

Molinari had a late surge and a runner-up finish at Quail Hollow in 2017. If he didn’t get enough respect in his British Open victory, he should have from his run at the Masters. He has four wins and two runner-up finishes in the last year, and dating to the ’17 PGA at Quail Hollow, he has four top 10s in his last six majors.

Jordan Spieth is in the middle of an alarming form slump. (AAP)

Jordan Spieth (USA)

World ranking: 39.

Majors: Masters (2015), U.S. Open (2015), British Open (2017).

No one has ever completed the career Grand Slam at the PGA Championship, and Spieth has not been trending in that direction. His last victory was the 2017 British Open. More telling is that he was No. 3 in the world at this point a year ago.

Phil Mickelson (USA)

World ranking: 23.

Majors: Masters (2004, 2006, 2010), PGA Championship (2005), British Open (2013).

At Bethpage, Mickelson was twice a runner-up in the U.S. Open, to Tiger Woods in 2002 and to Lucas Glover in 2009. Mickelson loves majors at Bethpage and they love him. Both times he had a chance in the U.S. Open, he dropped shots over the closing stretch to fall out of serious contention. Would be quite the coincidence if he were to finally win a major at Bethpage without it being the one major (U.S. Open) he lacks.

WHAT THE PLAYERS SAID

"It’s always nice to defend, but being in New York, I’ve got good memories. It’s a fun place to play in front of the fans. They’re all energetic, and you come back and you’ve got good feelings this week and just kind of hopefully you ride that momentum." - Brooks Koepka.

"This week is going to be a lot of fun with the crowds, the excitement that we’ve had here the last, what, three events that we’ve played here." - Tiger Woods.

"Coming off Augusta and being in the spotlight with regards to trying to win the Masters for the first time makes you itch to get back out at a major. I play pretty decent on this golf course, too." - Jason Day.

"All I've heard is how hard it is [Bethpage], and how long it plays, and it's going to play long this week." - Cameron Smith.

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