ORLANDO — John Daly woke up Wednesday morning to read that swing coach Butch Harmon fired him. Then he got a phone call when he was at the entrance to Bay Hill letting him know he had been kicked out of the Arnold Palmer Invitational for missing the pro-am.
"Hasn't been a good day," Daly said. "This is the last thing I needed in my life. I feel like I let Arnold down."
He said he was given wrong information that caused him to miss his tee time, starting a bizarre chain reaction that knocked out two other players, including Tampa's Ryuji Imada.
The PGA Tour has a policy that anyone missing the pro-am is ineligible to play in the tournament.
Daly, who received a sponsor's exemption, played the Monday pro-am and said he was asked to play Wednesday, too. He requested a morning start, then called Tuesday to find out his tee time. A woman in the tournament office told him 9:47 a.m., his starting time for the first round.
"I didn't even know that was my Thursday tee time," Daly said. "I should have looked into it. It stinks for me. I want to do anything I can for the tournament as a sponsor exemption. I wanted to meet the people I was playing with in the pro-am. I love Arnold Palmer to death. I called and talked to him and apologized.
"And the thing that upsets me is I cost Nick O'Hern and Ryuji Imada, so now I got these guys mad at me, too."
They were alternates for the pro-am, and both thought they were assigned to the afternoon group. Instead, they were the first two names called when Daly didn't show, and when neither was around, they were disqualified from the $5.8-million event.
Ian Poulter, a pro-am alternate for the afternoon, volunteered to replace Daly. Tag Ridings, rookie Michael Letzig and Peter Lonard were added to the tournament field.
Imada has three top-five finishes in 2008, including a tie for second Sunday at the PODS Championship in Palm Harbor, is ninth on the money list and seventh on the FedEx Cup points list. He can get into the Masters on April 10 if he stays in the top 50 in the world rankings. He's currently No. 68.
O'Hern lives only five minutes away at Isleworth and was furious to learn he would not be eligible.
"When I should have been on the tee, I was giving my girls breakfast," he said. "I thought common sense would have prevailed. This is a tough one to take. Unfortunately, we got caught up in John's snowball effect."
The snowball is starting to look like an avalanche.
Daly, 41, lost his full tour card two years ago and relies mainly on sponsor exemptions. In seven events this year, he has missed the cut three times and withdrew from the Bob Hope Classic, where he was spotted at several after-hour parties.
His best finish was a tie for 60th in Mexico, an opposite-field event.
The Bay Hill mixup comes one day after Harmon, one of golf's most renowned swing coaches, said he was done working with Daly because the two-time major champion appeared more interested at the PODS Championship in drinking than working on his game.
"I just wish Butch had called me before getting slapped in the face," Daly said. "I love Butch to death. I still think he's the greatest coach out there. I just told him, 'Don't always believe what you read in the paper.' I texted him, 'All I wish you'd done is call me.' It was a shock to me."
As for his behavior last week, Daly said he thought he was doing the Innisbrook tournament a favor by drumming up business at the Hooters Owl's Nest after he missed the cut.
"I signed about a thousand hats," Daly said. "I love Hooters. I had a few beers and some chicken wings. It was Saturday. I wasn't even playing in the tournament."