Tiger says slow play has only gotten 'worse'

By Doug FergusonMay 15, 2012, 7:15 pm

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – In more peaceful times, when Tiger Woods had gone six months without losing and golf seemed to revolve around him, he ended a monthly newsletter with a rare trip to the soap box to complain about the pace of play on the PGA Tour.

''Before I go, I would like to talk about slow play,'' Woods wrote. ''It's been an ongoing problem on the PGA Tour for a long time.''

That was in 2008.

When he finished The Players Championship on Sunday, Woods measured progress with one word.

''Worse,'' he said.

The focus last week at the Stadium Course, TPC Sawgrass eventually returned to the guy holding the trophy, as it should. The Tour had reason to celebrate for a couple of reasons. It had a worthy champion in Matt Kuchar, who won the money title two years ago and has an infectious smile that makes him a fan favorite. Also, the tournament finished on Sunday.

Kevin Na was only joking - we think - when he spoke about his battle to pull the trigger and his bizarre habit of purposely whiffing on a swing so he could start over. ''But just bear with me, and hopefully we get that (Sunday) round in,'' Na said.

In fact, the topic came up on the eve of The Players when commissioner Tim Finchem was asked if the Tour felt a sense of urgency to play faster and an obligation to set an example for golfers everywhere. His answer included this nugget that made little sense.

''I actually think we might want to experiment with penalty shots,'' Finchem said. ''But I don't think penalty shots make a difference, to be honest with you.''

How would he know?

This week at the Byron Nelson Championship, marks the 20-year anniversary of the last time a Tour player was assessed a one-shot penalty for taking too much time. That was Dillard Pruitt, now a rules official, who carries a stopwatch. That one stroke wound up costing him $9,600 - when $9,600 actually meant something. He was fined $1,000, and he was relegated to play in the last group for the next two weeks.

Stewart Cink was asked about progress with the pace of play. A few years ago, he was fined $20,000 for getting put on the clock 10 times in a season, and he has worked to improve.

''Is it because of the leader?'' Cink replied on Sunday as Na was headed to the practice range.

Sure, it's easy to pick on Na. He is changing his swing and fighting some demons to get comfortable over the ball. He became a sympathetic figure to some in the media for his honesty and his pledge to try harder, though it should be pointed out that Na has been slow ever since he joined the Tour. Not so sympathetic were some in the gallery who shouted out, ''Pull the trigger!'' and ''Hit it!'' to reverse effect. He had to back off shots and wound up taking even longer.

Slow play has been part of the conversation all season. If golf were a presidential campaign, slow play would be the equivalent of the economy.

Luke Donald was on holiday in Barbados when he was watching the final round of the season-opener in Hawaii, which featured Na, Jonathan Byrd, Ben Crane and Webb Simpson in the last four groups. He took to Twitter and ended one plea by saying, ''Slow play is killing our sport.''

Finchem addressed the broader problem, which represents somewhat of a Catch-22.

Ask just about any rules official, and they would say the size of fields make it nearly impossible to get around in a reasonable time. Can anyone remember the last time the cut was made on a Friday at Riviera? That's why the Masters gets nervous when its field size approaches 100 players.

But to reduce the field is to take away playing opportunities, the very thing Finchem is determined to provide. It's not a simple solution.

''We elect not to do that,'' Finchem said. ''Because as much as we like to see a stronger pace of play, the playing opportunities for the number of players we have had are more important. We'll generate the playing opportunities first, and take our lumps second. It's as simple as that.''

Solutions are not that easy to find, or this would have been fixed years ago. And it's not fair to compare the pace on Tour with how long it takes to play golf at your local club. In recreational golf, the pins aren't four paces from the edge of the green, tucked behind bunkers. The greens aren't as firm as a hardwood floor. A putt isn't worth $399,000, which is what it cost Rickie Fowler when he missed that 8-footer on his last hole.

The problem on Tour might be attitude.

Donald said what annoys him most is when a player does not start thinking about his next shot until it's his turn. The way it has gone for the last 20 years, why hurry when on one else does?

''We know when they drive up and tell us to hurry up, it means nothing,'' Geoff Ogilvy said. ''When I first came out and someone told me to hurry up, I got all flustered and was rushing. Now, it's a laugh. Yeah, we'll try. But some guys don't even try because they don't do anything.

''I bet if you polled the Tour, half the fast players would say, 'Give me penalties,' just to scare everyone.''

Or maybe the Tour could try a perk instead of a punishment.

''You want to help slow play?'' said Roger Maltbie, NBC Sports analyst and former Tour winner. ''Hand them their cards on the first tee and say, 'If you bring this back to us in less than four hours, you can take a stroke off your score.' Let's see how that works.''

It couldn't hurt.

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.



It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.



Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.



Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.



Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.



After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.



Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.


Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.