Former champion John Daly has withdrawn from the 2019 Open Championship at Royal Portrush after being denied the use of a buggy.
Daly, who won the Open at St Andrews in 1995 after a play-off with Constantine Rocca, is one of the former winners afforded a place in the field and that would have been no different at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland.
The 53-year-old American made a request to the R&A, organisers of the Open Championship, to use of a buggy for special assistance due to an ongoing knee injury, but it was turned down. He subsequently vowed to try to play anyway, only to withdraw with his place in the field going to Kevin Streelman.
Traditionally, buggies aren’t permitted in professional golf tournaments without extenuating circumstances, something that was granted at the PGA Championship in May when Daly requested the use of one at Bethpage Black.
“Quite disappointed they do not see it the same way our PGA of America and PGA Tour sees it,” Daly tweeted when the decision to refuse him use of a buggy was made. “Different continents different laws???
The 148th Open at Royal Portrush…… pic.twitter.com/RAOLQUmfLY
— John Daly (@PGA_JohnDaly) July 6, 2019
“As a proud Open champion, I know what the Open Championship represents and what a special tournament it is.
“All who have earned the right to compete should be afforded that right to compete and give it their best shot.
“While I trust the R&A’s decision was made with good intentions, I could not disagree more with their conclusions.”
He added that he was going to “give it a shot in two weeks at Portrush” but subsequently reversed that decision. Instead he will play in the Senior Players Championship at Firestone this week.
Daly has exemption to use a buggy on both the 2019 PGA Tour season and PGA Tour Champions events, such as the Senior Players Championship, due to his degenerative knee injury.
The decision not to play in the Open comes after Daly also revealed he has been treated for sepsis after being bitten by a spider during a recent holiday in the UK.
Having made the tricky decision, the R&A released a statement in which they revealed that not only is Royal Portrush not suited to buggies, but they are also not permitted for use in general play by members of visitors to the famous links course.
The statement added: “We appreciate the difficulty John is facing and have full sympathy for him as this is clearly a serious, long-term condition.
“Having considered all of the relevant factors, the Championship Committee has decided to decline his request.
“We believe that walking the course is an integral part of the Championship and is central to the tradition of links golf which is synonymous with The Open.
“This is not a decision we have taken lightly but we believe it is the right one for The Open.
“John has a special place in our hearts as a champion golfer and he will always be welcome at the Championship both at Royal Portrush and in future.”