Advice for PGA Tour players: Play slower, it helps

By Doug FergusonOctober 16, 2012, 10:15 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Five tournaments into his rookie season, Brian Harman realized his game wasn't suited for the PGA Tour.

He played too fast.

At a time when tournament golf is getting unwanted attention for taking too long, Harman is among several young players setting a good pace, not to mention a good example. But after more than a month of standing around, he needed help. So he called Lucas Glover, a mentor with a quick trigger.

''I talked to him about playing slower,'' Harman said. ''I said, 'Look, man, it's driving me nuts out here.'''

Glover gave him a few tips from his own experience. Be the last player to leave the tee box. Walk slower to the ball. Get water when you're not thirsty. Use the bathroom even if you don't have to go. Take a little more time studying the yardage book.

A week later, Glover was driving from Sea Island to south Florida for the Seminole Pro-Member when he asked his girlfriend to check the scores from the second round of the Honda Classic. She mentioned that some guy named Brian Harman had shot a 61.

''The kid listens well,'' Glover said.

Harman is not alone, which is encouraging. The shame of it is that you never hear of slow guys who are consciously trying to pick up the pace. It's always the other way around.

Dustin Johnson is another player who pulls the club, sees the shot and hits the shot. He was the second to tee off on the par-5 12th hole at Doral a few years ago. It took him 14 seconds to take the driver from the bag, place the ball on the tee, find his target, take a practice swing and step over the ball. Four seconds later, the ball was airborne.

Johnson might have been fast to a fault. Think back to the second hole at Pebble Beach in the final round of the 2010 U.S. Open. Before Johnny Miller could complete a sentence, Johnson took three chips – one from the left side – on his way to a triple bogey that cost him his three-shot lead. Then, he quickly pulled his driver and hit into the bushes for a lost ball and a double bogey, and his Open was over.

That wasn't what led to the change, though. Just like Harman – and Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Brandt Snedeker and others – Johnson figured if no one else was going to speed up, it would only help him to slow down. That or lose a piece of his sanity.

''Guys out here play really slow, and they're not going to speed up,'' Johnson said. ''I can be miserable, play fast all day and wait, or I can slow down a bit, which can't hurt.''

Johnson is still quick and much quicker than most. He takes a little more time when he gets to the ball, waits a few seconds to pull the club from the bag. And he's taking more time on the green, looking at putts from multiple sides of the hole.

But that's what golf has come to in this generation. Instead of the faster players bringing everyone else up to speed, they have to downshift.

''It can be painful if you play quick,'' Fowler said. ''You're going to be spending a lot of time standing there. It almost starts hurting your legs and feet when you're just standing there. I learned quickly that you have to be patient.''

Criticizing slow play is as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. For all the anecdotal evidence, the fix is not as simple as it might seem. When greens are firm and fast, there are going to be more putts that run 4 feet by the hole. Those aren't considered tap-ins. Rules officials have lobbied for years to reduce the size of the fields because too many players can turn a golf course into the 405 in Los Angeles during rush hour, which is just about any hour.

Meantime, players have a choice – stand around or slow down.

McIlroy gave golf a jolt of energy with his exciting game, and adding to his appeal was how quickly he went about his business. He can be an inspiration to young golfers not only with the way he plays and his good manners but his pace. Now, however, even Boy Wonder has joined the ranks of fast players who have learned to slow down.

He traces that to the final round of the 2011 Masters, although he places the blame on his epic meltdown to his swing and his putting, not how long he had to wait. McIlroy was in the last group with Angel Cabrera, as fast as any golfer on the planet. Ahead of them were K.J. Choi and Charl Schwartzel, with Jason Day in the next group.

''I played with Cabrera, who's really quick,'' McIlroy said. ''After that, I realized I'm just going to slow it down a little bit, and it's helped. I hate slow play. I don't want to get frustrated by me playing quick and having to wait all the time. I just sort of try to take my time a little more.''

Brandt Snedeker says he has slowed down, which is hard to believe. Snedeker walks fast and talks fast, and even his practice strokes on the putting green are done in rapid-fire succession. He learned that from his father, Larry, who instilled in his sons at a young age not to make anyone behind them wait. That's the only way Snedeker knows.

But even he concedes to marching to a slightly slower beat.

''Otherwise, I'd end up waiting all day,'' Snedeker said. ''We're conditioned to slow play. Unfortunately, it's become that way. I wish we could play every round under four hours. But you've got to get used to that.''

That's what Pat Perez has done. He doesn't slow down. He doesn't like the pace of play. He has just learned to accept it.

Perez was paired with one of the more notorious snails in the final group one year, when someone asked him if the pace would hurt his chances. Perez has never blamed his failures on anyone but himself, and he wasn't about to start.

''I wait on every single shot, every single day on the PGA Tour,'' he said. ''I've gotten really used to doing that.''

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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry