The European Tour said Thursday that rounds on the Desert Swing this year were about 10 minutes faster, on average, after implementing a new pace-of-play policy last month.
Beginning at the Abu Dhabi Championship, rules officials were instructed to hand out monitoring penalties if a group was out of position and one of the players took longer than 40 seconds to play a shot.
The tour said that 95 groups were monitored during the circuit’s Desert Swing, which included events in Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Dubai. In all, five players received monitoring penalties, none more publicized than world No. 1 Jordan Spieth, who was deemed to take too long to putt during the opening round in Abu Dhabi. Spieth, Daniel Brooks, Benjamin Hebert, Eddie Pepperell or Gavin Green will be fined about $2,800 if they commit another monitoring penalty this season.
As for the timing figures:
- Abu Dhabi: Rounds 1 and 2 were about five minutes faster, compared to 2015.
- Qatar: Rounds 1 and 2 were about 10 and four minutes faster, respectively, compared to 2012, when the opening rounds featured similarly windy conditions, but the final groups were 19 and 14 minutes quicker.
- Dubai: Rounds 1 and 2 were two minutes faster, compared to 2015, but the final groups cut an average of 13 minutes across the first two rounds.
European Tour CEO Keith Pelley's goal was to trim about 15 minutes per round.
“We said before our new measures were introduced in Abu Dhabi that we wanted to take the lead on pace of play and it’s terrific to see the policy has had an immediate effect, even though we are still in the early stages of its implementation,” Pelley said in a release.