John Daly, the 1991 PGA Champion, made headlines this week as he rode a golf cart around Bethpage Black in the 101st edition of the PGA Championship.
Daly was granted permission by the PGA of America to use a golf cart because of osteoarthritis in his right knee that he says prevents him from walking more than six holes at a time.
Daly filed his request under the Americans with Disabilities Act and was the first player to ride a cart in a major since Casey Martin in the 2012 U.S. Open.
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Tiger Woods, when asked about Daly taking a cart early in the week, quipped, “As far as JD taking a cart? Well, I walked with a broken leg, so…”
Woods was alluding to the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines – his last major win until the 2019 Masters – where he played through a double stress fracture of his left tibia.
Daly seemed to be the punchline of a lot of jokes at Bethpage Black for his use of the cart and missed the cut by seven strokes after rounds of 75-76.
Though he was able to take a cart, that wasn’t the case for his caddie, Peter Van Der Riet, who still had to carry the bag and walk with the other players and caddies in the group.
If anything, Van Der Riet said, the fact that his boss had a cart made his own job more difficult.
“Caddying this week was a disadvantage with a cart,” he said. “I couldn’t get in a rhythm. You talk to the player and then the caddie’s over here and the player’s over there. As much as anybody thinks it’s an advantage being in a cart, no, it’s a total disadvantage. By the time I would get to him in the fairway, I’m scratching for a yardage, or he’s ahead and I’m behind.”
With the cart, there wasn’t much time for player/caddie discussion. As part of the rule, Daly was allowed only to drive to his ball. He wasn’t allowed, for instance, to drive to the ball and then drive back to Van Der Riet to discuss.
By the time Van Der Riet reached Daly, the two-time major winner typically had his yardage and was merely waiting for a club.
“He gets a yardage, then I get a yardage, but by the time he’s ready to play I’m still scratching for a yardage because he’s been up there at his ball 5 minutes before me,” Van Der Riet said. “It was going to be a hard week because of the crowd anyway.”
The crowds at a major are obviously much larger than a regular Tour event. Factor that in along with the difficult terrain at Bethpage Black and Van Der Riet says the cart was no bargain.
“It’s a disadvantage in a major,” Van Der Riet said. “On the Champions Tour, he does pretty much his own thing. This is a hard golf course. You’ve got to both be on the same wavelength.
“Even though you guys give him a hard time for riding, I think to me it’s a disadvantage… Going in and out of the cart with the crowd is impossible going from tee to green.”
Reporting by Garrett Johnston