Slow play in golf is not going away anytime soon

By Associated PressJanuary 17, 2012, 6:28 pm

HONOLULU (AP)—Luke Donald took to Twitter to vent about a contentious issue onthe PGA Tour. If nothing else, it was refreshing to see golf with a No. 1 playerwho was willing to express his opinion freely and publicly.

As for that issue that stirred Donald from his holiday in Barbados?

Pace of play, a topic that is not going anywhere in a hurry.

Players can question whether the tour should change the FedEx Cup pointssystem. They can debate the merits of the world ranking. They can be disgustedwith the number of no-shows for the Tournament of Champions at Kapalua. And aweek from now, they might really get worked up when they hear details of aproposal to revamp Q-school.

Still, nothing gets them going like slow play.

Trouble is, no one has a reasonable solution.

Donald joined the fray during the final round at Kapalua, where the finalfour pairings featured Kevin Na , Ben Crane , Webb Simpson and Jonathan Byrd , noneof them part of Lanny Wadkins ’ dream foursome if speed were a factor.

It didn’t take long for Byrd and Steve Stricker to fall nearly two holesbehind.

“Sounds like slow play is already an issue 1st week of the (at)PGATOURseason and it’s 2 somes. Sort it out please …” came the first tweet fromDonald. He followed with some advice: “It’s not that hard, be ready when it’syour turn. Slow play is killing our sport.”

Two tweets later, Donald got off his soap box with a final thought: “Icould rant all day long, don’t think anything will ever change as the slowplayers don’t realize they are slow.”

Criticism is less meaningful when not accompanied by solutions, and there isno simple answer for slow play. If there were, it would have been fixed whenNixon occupied the White House.

Nonetheless, a few observations from the last month.

— Tim Herron took about two minutes to figure out how to play his second shotto the green on Friday of the Sony Open. His ball was in the rough, 187 yards toa flag tucked behind the bunker. Was the ball going to take off on him from thatlie? How much? 6-iron or 7-iron? If it had been in the fairway, caddie Lance TenBroeck told him it would be a smooth 6-iron. Aim at the corner of the trap andcut it back toward the flag? Play for the middle of the green?

The entire conversation took place while the group ahead was putting. Assoon as the group left the green, Herron’s shot was in the air. That’s how golfis meant to be played. Beautiful.

— It would be simple to blame the swing coach or mental gurus who preach theimportance of routines, which are fine as long as they don’t take too long.Regardless, it still comes down to a player not wanting to hit until he iscomfortable over the shot.

Think of it this way: How much damage could Tom Brady do if he stood behindcenter as long as he wanted, not having the ball snapped until he felteverything was in place? The penalty is 5 yards in football. Should golf moveplayers back 15 yards for every shot that takes them longer than 40 seconds?That would take even more time.

— This spring marks the 20-year anniversary of the last time a player wasgiven a one-shot penalty for pace of play. To change the policy and make it aone-shot penalty when a player is over his allotted time sounds simple, butwouldn’t work. There are too many extenuating circumstances. Golf doesn’t havemany gray areas; this would be loaded with them.

Until someone gets a penalty shot, the stiffest punishment starts with a$20,000 fine for the 10th time a player is part of a group that gets put on theclock. Yawn. How about docking him 50 points from the FedEx Cup standings?Consider that a year ago, 50 points marked the difference between 125th (andqualifying for the playoffs) and 143rd (and getting a month off).

— Consider the lay of the land. Tour officials allotted 4 hours, 15 minutesfor a twosome at Kapalua, built on a mountain with full-size SUVs used forshuttles between two holes. The final twosome at the Sony Open played in 3hours, 39 minutes. Waialae is old school—flat, with tees next to the greens.

— Television cannot be underestimated when it comes to slow play.

It would seem that TV could at least draw attention from the pace by notshowing a player until he is ready to pull the trigger. Two problems:

One, a number of players have perfected the art of backing off shots. Again.And again.

Furthermore, the beauty of television is spending time with the playerbefore the shot, allowing the fan to anticipate the possibilities. It workedwell when Nick Faldo took forever before deciding on a 2-iron to go for the 13thgreen, a key moment when he won the 1996 Masters. Padraig Harrington walking upto the 17th green to check the hole location at Brookline in the Ryder Cup? Notso much.

Here’s the bigger issue with TV. Mark Russell, one of the chief rulesofficials, showed off his atomic watch at Sherwood last month. The seconds wereticking toward 6 p.m. EST just as the last group on the last green was tappingin. The timing was perfect.

The next day? Not so much.

Despite being in twosomes, play took much longer because of a strong wind.That leads to more time in club selection and on the green. Yet tee times wereleft alone, thus the third round went well past four hours and the 6 p.m. finishtime on NBC Sports.

That wasn’t an accident.

The tour purposely wanted to go long on Saturday so that NBC could directviewers to Golf Channel for the conclusion of the third round. It was anotherexample of NBC Sports trying to help boost the visibility of Golf Channel nowthat both are owned by Comcast. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. Especiallynot when TV foots so much of the bill.

— Slow play at public courses has been attributed to amateurs trying to belike the pros. Maybe so. Russell made an observation about recreational golfyears ago that is worth considering: Slow play is only a problem when you haveto wait.

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Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...

2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club

Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth

The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win

Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.