New Straits Times - - Sport - BRIAN HARMAN

the group is “on the clock,” one bad time is a warning, the next one is a penalty.

Here’s what is not in the book — when play­ers are put on the clock, that’s not their first in­ter­ac­tion with a rules of­fi­cial. They first are asked to pick up the pace, a cour­tesy to al­low for out­side cir­cum­stances (such as a lost ball).

Se­condly, while tim­ing is not an ex­act sci­ence, play­ers are not given a bad time if they go a few sec­onds over the limit. A bad time gen­er­ally is a re­ally bad time.

Either way, it’s a bad pol­icy.

“If a slow player gets be­hind and they’re asked to pick it up, the first ques­tion they ask is, ‘Am I on the clock?’ Be­cause if they’re not on the clock, they’re not go­ing to change,” Haas said. “If they are on the clock, they change. I don’t like that. Be­cause then all they do is run down the fair­way.”

No one ex­plained this bet­ter than Ful­ton Allem at The Play­ers Cham­pi­onship way back in 2000.

“It would be like you go­ing down the high­way 160 kmph,” Allem said. “A cop says: ‘Lis­ten, bud, you are do­ing 100. I am go­ing to fol­low you now. I am go­ing to mea­sure your speed.’ You’re not go­ing to go over the speed limit. You’re go­ing to drive per­fectly.”

Maybe the an­swer is no men­tion of be­ing on the clock, and no warning.

Pat Perez sug­gested put­ting an of­fi­cial with ev­ery group and tim­ing all play­ers re­gard­less if they’re out of po­si­tion. That would work. That also would be an ad­di­tional 52 of­fi­cials for a 156-man field, and that’s not very prac­ti­cal.

There are other fac­tors that make golf at the high­est level dif­fer­ent.

To­tal prize money this week is US$7.5 mil­lion (RM33.75 mil­lion). That can­not be over­looked. Nei­ther can the size of the field, which this week is 156 play­ers. Be­cause the Zurich Clas­sic was a team event, there were 160 play­ers. That’s the largest field on the PGA Tour played over one course.

The greens are faster than ever and the pins are cut closer to edges. Putts on fast greens run three or four feet by holes when they miss. Those are marked and given as much care as the orig­i­nal putt. That adds to the time.

“Un­til the greens are slower, there’s noth­ing you can do,” said Brian Harman, an­other light­ning-quick player. “I don’t have the an­swer other than mak­ing the golf course eas­ier.”

Perez says he isn’t both­ered by slow play be­cause after 16 years on the PGA Tour, he’s used to it. Ev­ery­one seems slow com­pared with him. Perez also doesn’t ex­pect change be­cause of the na­ture of tele­vised golf. More than a game, it’s en­ter­tain­ment.

Un­til the greens are slower, there’s noth­ing you can do. I don’t have the an­swer other than mak­ing the golf course eas­ier.

“Un­til a tour­na­ment doesn’t fin­ish be­cause of slow play, that’s when it will change,” he said. “We al­ways fin­ish on time, some­how.”

Mi­nus dras­tic mea­sures that could do more harm than good, it’s not a sim­ple fix. And the longer it goes with­out a so­lu­tion raises the ques­tion of how big the prob­lem re­ally is. AP

Bill Haas is supremely qual­i­fied to dis­cuss the sub­ject.


Zach Johnson signs au­to­graphs for Aaron Guy­ton and Bob LaBant dur­ing the prac­tice rounds for the Wells Fargo Cham­pi­onship on Tues­day.

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