Tour says it will explore pace-of-play policy

National Sports
Bryson DeChambeau

FILE – In this July 18, 2019, file photo, Bryson DeChambeau, of the United States, looks at his putt on the fourth green during the first round of the British Open Golf Championships at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland. DeChambeau wasted no time defending himself against accusations of slow play Saturday, Aug. 10, after harsh criticism on social media stemming from a video showing him taking more than two minutes to hit an 8-foot putt at The Northern Trust. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison, File)

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JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) — The PGA Tour says it will look closer at its pace-of-play policy, which could lead to timing players who typically take a long time playing shots.

The issue has been around as long as today’s generation of players has been alive.

It gained attention this week with a video of Bryson DeChambeau taking 2 minutes, 6 seconds to hit an 8-foot putt on the eighth hole Friday. That led to players criticizing DeChambeau for his pace and the tour for a policy that makes penalty shots rare.

Tyler Dennis, the tour’s chief of operations, says the tour might be able to use its ShotLink technology that measures every shot to help with a solution.

“We know that the individual habits of players when they are preparing to hit a shot can quickly become a focal point in today’s world, and our players and fans are very passionate about this issue,” Dennis said in a story posted on the tour’s website.

For more than a decade, the tour has been using ShotLink in an unofficial capacity to let players know how long they take over various shots. The time was unofficial because it was based on when the scorer recorded the shot, not when it was deemed to be his turn to hit.

“We are currently in the process of reviewing this aspect of pace of play and asking ourselves, Is there a better way to do it?’ We think technology definitely plays a key role in all of this and we are thinking about new and innovative ways to use it to address these situations,” Dennis said.

The only real development this week was the DeChambeau video, and he was quick to defend himself Saturday against the social media outcry.

“When people start talking to me about slow play and how I’m killing the game, I’m doing this-and-that to the game, that is complete and utter … you-know what,” he said. “That’s not fair.”

But it was still on his mind Sunday morning.

Walking across the putting green, he saw the caddie for Brooks Koepka and did a 90-degree turn toward him. He told Ricky Elliott that if Koepka had anything he wanted to say, that Koepka should seek out DeChambeau and tell him to his face.

Elliott was perplexed, telling DeChambeau that he wasn’t involved. Moments later, Koepka arrived and chatted with DeChambeau.

Koepka said the nature of the conversation would stay between them, though he said DeChambeau should not be singled out as the only slow player in golf. If the tour decides to explore its longtime policy, there could be a chance to better identify the players taking too much time.

The current policy is for players to be timed — one minute for the first player to hit a particular shot, 40 seconds for the others — only when they fall out of position. When told they are being time, players often speed up. That’s one reason penalty shot are so rare. They are assessed the second time a player gets a bad time.

Dennis mentioned other factors that go into rounds that taking too long, and rules officials for years have argued that a large field makes for too much congestion. Regular tour events typically are 156 players, meaning there are 26 threesomes for 18 holes in the morning and afternoon.

“Some of these are things we can influence,” Dennis said. “And some are not.”

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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