Bryson DeChambeau has vowed to improve his pace of play after coming in for stinging criticism from fellow professionals over the weekend.
Eddie Pepperell and Ian Poulter were among the players to hit out at DeChambeau after video emerged of him taking two minutes and 20 seconds – the limit is 40 seconds – to hit an eight-foot putt during the second round of The Northern Trust at Liberty National.
Pepperell labelled DeChambeau a “single-minded twit” – although he has since apologised – while Poulter implied that the world number eight was one of the players who “continually disrespect their fellow pros and continue to break the rules without a conscience”.
DeChambeau initially issued a passionate defence of his actions and urged players to speak him to directly rather than “attack” him on social media, but softened his stance in an Instagram post on Monday.
“Slow play affects the quality of the game for both players and our fans and I’ve always had the utmost respect for my playing partners, including JT (Justin Thomas) and Tommy (Fleetwood),” wrote DeChambeau, who played with Thomas and Fleetwood in the first two rounds last week.
“I’m constantly trying to improve and I will do my very best to improve my pace. Golf is my passion and livelihood. It’s my responsibility to help improve the game to be more enjoyable for all.
“Pace of play has been an issue for golf at all levels for a long time and I’m committed to being a part of the solution, not the problem.
“I want to be a good representative of the game and the @PGATour and I looking forward to working with the TOUR and fellow players to find a solution to slow play.”
The furore over DeChambeau’s actions has at least prompted the PGA Tour to announce plans to review its current pace-of-play policy.
Rory McIlroy said on Wednesday that slow players receive too many warnings before being penalised and, although PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has previously said he does not consider slow play to be a problem, the latest incident may finally lead to action.
“The Tour’s current pace-of-play policy only addresses players whose groups have fallen out of position,” the PGA Tour said in a statement. “The Tour is now exploring whether to expand its policy to also address players whose groups are in position, but who take an excessive amount of time to hit a shot.”
Tyler Dennis, the Tour’s chief of operations, added: “We are really focused at the moment on leveraging our ShotLink technology to assist us with these factors.
“This year, we have rolled out version 2.0 of an application which allows the officials to monitor every group in real-time, from their positions out on the course, and respond more quickly when a group is getting behind.
“We know that the individual habits of players when they are preparing to hit a shot can quickly become a focal point in today’s world, and our players and fans are very passionate about this issue.
“We are currently in the process of reviewing this aspect of pace of play and asking ourselves, ‘Is there a better way to do it?’ We think technology definitely plays a key role in all of this and we are thinking about new and innovative ways to use it to address these situations.”
Under current guidelines, a player’s group must be deemed to be out of position before being timed.
At that point an individual would receive a warning the first time he exceeded the allotted time limit (50 seconds if first to play, 40 seconds thereafter) and would only be penalised for a second such “bad time” in the same round.
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Rory McIlroy has called for slow players to receive a solitary warning before receiving shot penalties.
The issue of slow play came to the fore again during the final round of the Open Championship at Royal Portrush, where world number one Brooks Koepka tapped his wrist in the direction of officials to signal his displeasure with the time taken by playing partner JB Holmes.
Holmes was not penalised and also famously escaped punishment despite taking four minutes to hit a single shot on the final hole of the Farmers Insurance Open last year.
“The guys that are slow are the guys that get too many chances before they are penalised,” McIlroy told a pre-tournament press conference ahead of The Northern Trust in New Jersey.
“It should be a warning and then a [penalty] shot. It should be you’re put on the clock and that is your warning, and then if you get a bad time while on the clock, it’s a shot. That will stamp it out right away.
“We are not children that need to be told five or six times what to do. OK, you’re on the clock. OK, I know if I play slowly here, I’m going to get penalised, and I think that’s the way forward.”
Under current European Tour regulations, “a stroke(s) penalty may only be imposed if the same player has two or more ‘Bad Times’ while having been officially timed during the same round.”
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After a long and illustrious career, American golfer Tom Watson played his final round on Sunday before retiring from competitive golf.
Just six weeks shy of his 70th birthday, the eight-time major champion holed out for the last time at the Senior Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes – a tournament he has won three times, saying he no longer “has the tools in the toolbox” to be competitive in the Senior majors.
Five of Waston’s major titles came at the Open, where he first captured the Claret Jug in 1975 before adding further titles in 1980, 1982 and 1983.
He almost became the oldest major champion at the age of 59, only to lose in a play-off to Stewart Cink at the 2009 Open at Turnberry.