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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Koepka: Second-place finishes becoming 'annoying'

By Al TaysMay 28, 2018, 12:02 am

Brooks Koepka didn't go down without a fight.

Trailing Justin Rose by four shots going into the final round of the Fort Worth Invitational, Koepka shot his second 7-under 63 of the week - and made up precisely one shot. He finished solo second at 17 under par, three shots behind Rose.

He could only marvel at the Englishman's performance in closing with a 6-under 64.

"It was pretty impressive," he said. "Justin played well. Hat's off to him. Any time you can come into a lead with four shots and play the way he did today, that's impressive."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Although Koepka was pleased with his own play - especially his putting - he said it felt "annoying" to come in second. Again.

"I feel like we've had so many second-place finishes," he said. "Always seem to run into a buzz saw, whatever it is."

Since May of 2016, Koepka has five solo second-place finishes and one T-2. But he also has a U.S. Open title, won last year at Erin Hills. He'll attempt to defend that title June 14-17 at Shinnecock Hills. "It's nice to finally be playing well and get going into the season," he said. "Kind of peaking right where I need to be."

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Minjee Lee birdies 18 to win on her birthday

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:59 pm

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Minjee Lee's task was simple: A birdie on No. 18 would win her the tournament. It was a manageable par 5, the easiest hole on the course in the final round.

After a good drive, her second shot came closer to trouble than much of the gallery probably realized.

''I almost clipped the tree,'' Lee said. ''I overcut it a little bit, but it finished out in a good position.''

Lee's shot came to rest just to the right of the green, and from there it was a simple chip and putt for the birdie that gave her a one-stroke win over In-Kyung Kim at the LPGA Volvik Championship on Sunday. Lee, who turned 22 on Sunday, won for the first time since 2016. It was the Australian's fourth career victory.

Lee three-putted for a bogey on No. 17, dropping into a tie with Kim, who finished her round about the same time. So Lee needed a birdie to win on 18. The 18th hole was 470 yards Sunday. There were 44 birdies there in the final round.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


''The tee was up,'' she said. ''I was pretty confident that I could get there in two if I had a good drive.''

Lee made her winning putt from about 3 feet. She finished at 4-under 68 and 16 under for the tournament. Kim (67) shot a 32 on the back nine and birdied No. 18, but it wasn't enough to force a playoff at Travis Pointe Country Club.

''I kind of knew that 16 was the number and I mean, I give my best,'' Kim said. ''I make some good shots and birdies.''

Moriya Jutanugarn (65) finished third at 14 under.

Lee took a two-stroke lead into the final round, and that was her margin over playing partner Stacy Lewis before Lewis (71) bogeyed No. 7 and 8. Kim emerged as the biggest threat to Lee when she birdied four of the first five holes on the back nine. Lewis is playing four months' pregnant with her first child.

Kim and Lee were briefly tied at 15 under, but then Lee made a tap-in birdie on the par-5 14th, while Kim bogeyed 15. Lee saved par on 15 despite a wayward drive into a bunker.

''I wasn't sure where I was score-wise then. That par 5 is reachable in two, so I think a lot of people would have made birdie there,'' Lee said. ''The next tee shot I just pulled into the bunker. ... I think that was really important for me to hole that par putt just to keep the momentum going.''

Lee had gone 38 consecutive holes without a bogey before making one on the par-4 17th. That, combined with Kim's birdie on 18, left the two golfers tied, but Lee still had the 18th to come.

Su Oh (68) and Lindy Duncan (69) finished at 13 under, and Megan Khang (67) was another stroke back. Lewis finished at 11 under along with Ariya Jutanugarn (69) and Danielle Kang (70).

Lewis birdied three of the first six holes, but Lee did as well.

''It's hard to get close when somebody does that,'' Lewis said. ''She played great all day and played solid. When she needed to make a par putt, she did, and didn't make any mistakes.''

Lee lost this event by one stroke last year. Shanshan Feng, the 2017 winner , finished tied for 21st this time.

The LPGA has had a different winner in each of its 13 tournaments this year. The U.S. Women's Open starts Thursday at Shoal Creek.

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Spieth: Improvement is 'right around the corner'

By Al TaysMay 27, 2018, 10:50 pm

Not that Dallas native Jordan Spieth didn't enjoy the two-week home game that is the AT&T Byron Nelson and the Fort Worth Invitational - he certainly did. But he's eager to get out of town, too.

"It was a great showing these last couple weeks by the fans," Spieth said after closing with a 2-under 68, a 5-under total and a T-32 finish. "Obviously extremely appreciative here in DFW. Wish I could do more. These couple weeks can be a bit taxing, and it's awesome to kind of have that support to carry you through.

"So, you know, I had a great time these couple weeks on and off the golf course as I always do, but I'm also really excited to kind of get out of town and kind of be able to just go back to the room and have nothing to do at night except for get ready to play the next day."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Spieth will have that experience this coming week in Dublin, Ohio, site of the Memorial. He's hopeful of improving on his T-21, T-32 finishes the past two weeks, and he thinks the main thing holding him back - his putting - is ready for a turnaround.

"I think good things are about to come," he said. "I feel a good run coming for the second half of the season. Today was - each day I've felt better and better with the wedges and the putter and the short game; today was no different. My only bogey being just kind of trying to do too much on a par-5; 3-wood into the hazard.

"So, you know, I'm getting into where I'm not making bogeys, and then soon - the not making bogeys is great, and soon I'll get back to the five, six birdies around and shoot some low rounds.

"So I know it's right around the corner."

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Broadhurst fires 63 to easily win Senior PGA

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:45 pm

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – Paul Broadhurst wishes he had played this well in his 23 years on the European Tour.

''I know a lot more about my swing now and I guess you get that with age and experience,'' the 52-year-old Englishman said after shooting an 8-under 63 on Sunday to win the Senior PGA Championship by four strokes and match the best 72-hole score in tournament history.

Broadhurst finished at 19-under 265 at Harbor Shores for his second senior major victory. The 63 was the best fourth-round score by a winner. Rocco Mediate also shot 19 under at Harbor Shores in 2016.

Also the 2016 British Senior Open winner, Broadhurst led the field with 26 birdies and passed third-round co-leaders Tim Petrovic and Mark McCarron with a 4-under 31 on the back nine.

Petrovic was second after a 69. McCarron had a 70 to tie for third at 14 under with Jerry Kelly (65).


Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship


Broadhurst earned a career-high $585,000 for his fourth PGA Tour Champions victory and moved to the top of the money list. He won six times on the European Tour, was a 1991 Ryder Cup player for Europe and has three European Senior Tour victories.

''It was really a special week,'' he said. ''It got a little bit tense out there. I knew I was playing well but I didn't seem to making any progress against Tim Petrovic. He was side-by-side on the back nine it seemed.''

He learned his lead was three strokes standing on the 18th tee when his caddie asked a television announcer.

''So we put my driver away and reached for the rescue club,'' he said. ''If I made a 5 there that would be fine.''

Broadhurst started the round two strokes behind Petrovic and McCarron, birdied the first hole and was tied with Petrovic for the lead by the turn. He took his first lead with a birdie on the 12th hole, led by two after 16 and birdied the final two holes, including a dramatic 40-foot putt for birdie at the 18th hole.

''I guess it would have been a bit of anti-climax if I would have three-putted the last green, but that would have given Tim a chance of holing his second shot,'' he said. ''I actually spoke to my caddie about that going down the last - we don't want to three-putt and five him the opportunity because stranger things have happened in golf. To see it go in the middle of the hole was just a special feeling.''

Petrovic said missed birdie putts on Nos. 7 and 8 were costly, but it might not have mattered with the way Broadhurst was playing.

''In hindsight it was all for naught,'' he said. ''He was so far ahead of us. Hat's off the guy. It was a great week - we just got beat. When he made the putt on 18 ahead of us I almost started clapping in the fairway and waving a white towel. It was well-deserved. That was great playing. He won the championship for sure.''

Broadhurst shot 72 in the first round, started rolling in putts with a 66 in the second round and was 15 under on the weekend. In addition to the leading 26 birdies, he topped the putts per greens in regulations numbers for the tournament as well with a 1.574 average.

''I wasn't aware I made that many birdies,'' he said. ''That's pretty impressive around this course.''

He said his game has long been unpredictable.

''I'm not blessed with a consistent swing like Bernhard Langer, but when it's on, it works,'' he said. ''If I'm putting well, then anything can happen, really.''