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Monahan defends Holmes, pace of play at Torrey

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Days after slow play at the Farmers Insurance Open created a social media firestorm, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan defended the actions of J.B. Holmes at Torrey Pines and reiterated the Tour’s desire to pick up the pace.

Holmes took more than 4 minutes to play his second shot on the 72nd hole, with players on both sides of the debate taking to Twitter in the moments after to share their thoughts. It was the culmination of a round that had already stretched to nearly 6 hours for the leaders, as gusty winds led to some high scores on the difficult South Course.

Monahan played in the pro-am Wednesday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and he supported Holmes’ defense that his lengthy deliberation on club choice was tied to the unpredictable, swirling winds above the 18th fairway.

“As it relates to J.B., I think J.B. came out and made some comments, and I think that says it all,” Monahan said. “He was in the heat of the moment. It’s really hard to win out here. You’re trying to think through how you can get on the green in two, with that amount of wind. I think he thought it would subside quickly, and it just would subside and pick back up. And I think he said what he needed to say on that front.”

Monahan explained that when the seventh-to-last group reached the 14th tee Sunday at Torrey Pines, the tournament was still “on time par” and expected to conclude between 6:20-6:27 p.m. ET. Instead, the final group didn’t complete the final hole of regulation until nearly 7 p.m. ET.

“I was watching it intently because CBS was going to the Grammys, and we felt like we were going to have a great finish,” Monahan said. “And then you just felt it, you felt all those scenarios pop up.”

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Those scenarios included difficult conditions on a demanding layout, but there were also some unexpected hiccups like C.T. Pan taking a quintuple-bogey 8 on the third hole. Monahan explained that the final groups were “never out of position,” a status that could have potentially triggered individuals being timed, and that the root causes of the sluggish round traced back to delays incurred on the front nine.

Monahan said his team examined the situation both Sunday night and again on Monday in an effort to see where they could possibly improve, but added that sometimes certain delays will be unavoidable.

“We’re always trying to get better. When you’re in a situation where your final round is taking the amount of time it took, then yeah, you have to address it. It’s not something that’s going to come overnight,” Monahan said. “Pace of play is an important issue in our game. It’s been something that garners a lot of attention inside our offices and in our discussions with our Player Advisory Council.

“We’ve put a lot into our ShotLink technology to be as intelligent as we can possibly be, but this is a sport that has more variables than any other sport. So you’re going to have outliers.”