After Further Review: When is slow play too slow?

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. In this edition of After Further Review, our writers weigh in on the fairness of slow-play officiating on the PGA Tour, the "weak" (in the judgment of the King himself) 16th hole at Bay Hill, and the South Korean rookies making noise on the LPGA tour.

While most observers will dismiss Henrik Stenson’s complaints over being put on the clock during Sunday’s final round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, he needed six putts to play the next two holes and went from leading by one to trailing eventual champion Matt Every by one shot, and there is something to be said for the Swede’s concerns.

Although no one wants to see slow play continue to fester in the game, at the highest level on Sunday afternoon there seems to be too much ambiguity when it comes to applying the rules. Anyone who watched Padraig Harrington’s languid final round last month at the Honda Classic can vouch for the PGA Tour’s selective enforcement efforts when it comes to slow play. - Rex Hoggard


The “aesthetically weak” greens got the most attention this week at Bay Hill, but it sounds like Arnold Palmer has more in mind for his golf course than merely installing some TifEagle.

The King revealed on Wednesday during a pre-tournament news conference that he “may change [No.] 16. That’s one hole that’s really the weak spot of the golf course right now. As you all know, it’s a very weak par 5 and I will lengthen it a little and maybe change the green a little.”

Asked in the 18th tower by Dan Hicks and Johnny Miller on Sunday what exactly he has planned, Palmer simply said he’ll make the hole “different.”

Sure, the par-5 16th hole was the easiest on the golf course this week, playing to a scoring average of 4.3, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The reachable par 5 creates an exciting finish at Bay Hill – with eagles, birdies and worse should someone find the water - and provides a perfect complement to Nos. 17 and 18.

It’s a hole on which Zach Johnson made an albatross Sunday and Henrik Stenson and Matt Every only made par.

It may prove wise to move the fairway a little left and bring the water a little more into play, but the important thing to remember in an age when golf courses keep getting longer is this - an easy hole isn’t always a bad hole. - Nick Menta


We all thought Inbee Park was being pushed to greater heights by Stacy Lewis and Lydia Ko in this “Big Three” competition. Of course, she is, but now we’re seeing there’s another giant motivational influence pushing Park – a remarkably good crop of South Korean rookies.

Hyo Joo Kim is the second South Korean rookie to win this year. She’ll go to No. 4 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings this week. Sei Young Kim won the second LPGA event of the year. She’s No. 22 in the world.

We might already have three South Korean rookie winners if Ha Na Jang’s putt had fallen to force a playoff at the end of the season-opening Coates Golf Championship. Jang is No. 21 in the world.

There’s yet a fourth South Korean rookie in this mix just waiting to make her mark. That’s Q Baek. She’s No. 12 in the world.

“I’ve played with most of them,” Park told us a day before this new season began. “We can almost not call them rookies. I think this is probably one of the strongest rookie classes the LPGA is going to have.”

These rookies seem intent on breaking up this Big Three talk. They’re pushing each other as much as they’re pushing Park. – Randall Mell

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.

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Ortiz leads LAAC through 54; Niemann, Gana one back

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 8:15 pm

Mexico's Alvaro Ortiz shot a 1-under 70 Monday to take the 54-hole lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship in Chile.

At 4 under for the week, he leads by one over over Argentina's Jaime Lopez Rivarola, Chile's Toto Gana and Joaquin Niemann, and Guatemala's Dnaiel Gurtner.

Ortiz is the younger brother of three-time Web.com winner Carlos. Alvaro, a senior at Arkansas, finished tied for third at the LAAC in 2016 and lost in a three-way playoff last year that included Niemann and Gana, the champion.

Ortiz shared the 54-hole lead with Gana last year and they will once again play in the final group on Tuesday, along with Gurtner, a redshirt junior at TCU.

“Literally, I've been thinking about [winning] all year long," Ortiz said Monday. "Yes, I am a very emotional player, but tomorrow I want to go out calm and with a lot of patience. I don't want the emotions to get the better of me. What I've learned this past year, especially in the tournaments I’ve played for my university, is that I have become more mature and that I have learned how to control myself on the inside on the golf course.”

In the group behind, Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who is poised to turn professional, unless of course he walks away with the title.

“I feel a lot of motivation at the moment, especially because I am the only player in the field that shot seven under (during the second round), and I am actually just one shot off the lead," he said. "So I believe that tomorrow I can shoot another very low round."

Tuesday's winner will earn an invitation to this year's Masters and exemptions into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open, and final qualifying for The Open.