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John Daly has withdrawn from the upcoming U.S. Senior Open after the USGA denied his request to use a golf cart during the event.
The 52-year-old two-time major champion known for his big personality and hard-partying lifestyle announced the decision on Twitter Monday.
Daly angry about USGA golf cart decision
Daly says he is suffering osteoarthritis in his right knee and believes that he is eligible under the Americans With Disabilities Act to use a golf cart during professional competition. He told USA Today he was angry about the USGA’s ruling.
“I’ve been fighting this (injury) for so long, and it’s my career they’re screwing around with here,” Daly said. “I’m pissed because I’ve been playing good golf and I want to play golf, that’s what I do for a living. But you know, you can’t walk 18 holes, you can’t walk 18 holes.”
The USGA responded on Twitter to Daly’s decision with detailed reasoning about why he was denied the request.
The USGA claimed that it reviewed Daly’s request per ADA requirements and determined that Daly did not meet the conditions to support a waiver of the walking condition. The USGA also stated that it gave Daly an opportunity to provide further information to support his case, and that he chose to withdraw instead.
USGA rules allow exceptions for disabled players to use golf carts
USGA rules require the organization to allow a player the use of a golf cart if he or she meets certain conditions.
As a general rule, players and their caddies must walk the course at USGA championships and at most qualifying rounds. Consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a disabled player or caddie may be permitted to use a golf cart as an accommodation to his or her disability for those events where golf carts are not allowed. As required by the ADA, the USGA will evaluate such requests on a case-by-case basis.
Supreme Court decision forced PGA, USGA to allow golf carts
The ADA requirements are the result of a 2001 U.S. Supreme Court decision that ruled in favor of PGA Tour pro Casey Martin, who sued the PGA for the right to a golf cart during competition. Martin suffered from a circulatory disorder that made walking painful for him. He was otherwise capable of golfing.
The Court ruled 7-2 that the PGA was required to allow Martin to use a golf cart under the ADA, a decision that garnered significant controversy in the golf world from those who believe that walking and the fatigue that comes with walking 18 holes is part of the game.
Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus are among the golfers who argued against allowing exceptions for players who have difficulty walking because it gives them an unfair advantage. In short, walking is part of professional golf. If you can’t walk 18 holes, you can’t be a professional golfer.
Daly cites 2017 golf cart exception
Scott Verplank was granted a request to use a golf cart during the 2017 U.S. Senior Open because he suffers from diabetes.
Daly cited Verplank’s exception when talking with USA Today and believes that he has a legal right to use a cart due to Verplank’s precedent.
“He can compete when he has a cart,” Daly said. “But when you’re hurt like I am, and this falls under the umbrella of the ADA — no doubt, I’ve researched it a little bit and my lawyers have researched it — we’ve sent nice letters (to the USGA) but nobody seems to want to approve it.”
He appears to want to prefer to fight his battle in the court of public opinion rather than the courts.
“I’m sure my lawyers want to (fight it), but I really don’t,” he said. “I don’t know what to do, honestly.”
Daly withdrew from an event last fall after collapsing with a knee injury after a tee shot. He said that he further tweaked his knee in April when a car crashed into his RV he was using to sign autographs in Hooters parking lot in Augusta, Georgia in an annual tradition of his tied to the Masters.
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