John Daly hates having to use a cart in the PGA Championship and probably wouldn’t do it unless the major didn’t mean so much to him.
Daly used the cart for nine practice holes Wednesday, arriving at the Bethpage Black clubhouse with an elastic bandage around his right knee, a cigarette in one hand and a wish that he could simply walk the 7,459-yard rolling course the next four days.
The PGA of America has come under criticism for giving Daly access to a cart for medical reasons. A committee on the American with Disabilities Act gave Daly an exemption because the arthritis in his knee would have prevented him from competing.
After playing Wednesday, Daly said the cart is a big disadvantage. He can’t figure out where he can go with it.
“Trust me, I hate riding in the cart,” the 53-year-old said. “If I could walk, I would do it. I could probably walk four holes and be done. The thing swells up so bad.”
The long-hitting Daly has been playing in the PGA Tour Champions, a 50-and-older circuit that allows for carts, since 2016, winning once in 2017. He has not won on the PGA Tour since capturing the 2004 Buick Open.
What everybody remembers, though, is his first victory. He captured the PGA Championship in 1991 after getting into the field as the ninth alternate.
That memory keeps him coming back.
“I am a past major winner of this; I just feel obligated. I don’t know why,” Daly said. “I just do. It got me started in my career. It’s very special to me and I just feel like I need to play, or try to anyway.”
Daly will be the first player to ride in a cart at a major since Casey Martin in the U.S. Open at Olympic Club in 1998 and 2012.
Bethpage will be a challenge, Daly said. It’s long and the fairways are not providing much roll after recent rain. He noted the greens are perfect.
His game isn’t.
“It’s so-so,” said the heavy-set player who has lived on the wild side and paid a price for it. “It’s not great, but you never know. Give it a shot and see what happens.”