Get a move on! Slow play will cost you a shot, Open stars told
22:49 GMT, 18 July 2012
Golfers guilty of slow play could face penalty strokes, organisers of the Open Championship warned on Wednesday.
That was the stark message given to Tiger Woods, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and the rest of the field ahead of today’s opening round at Royal Lytham.
The R&A are determined to crack down on the sport’s slowcoaches and their warning came in the wake of Englishman Ross Fisher incurring a one-stroke penalty for slow play in the Wales Open last month.
At risk: Padraig Harrington could be caught out
Among the players who could be at risk from the new get-tough policy at Lytham are Padraig Harrington, a two-time Open champion, and Americans Kevin Na and Keegan Bradley.
Jim McArthur, chairman of the championship committee, said: ‘We have a pace‑of‑play policy which we intend to apply stringently. This year we are putting slow play as a priority.
‘We would have no hesitation if we felt the players were over time to take the appropriate action, although we’ve obviously got to take into account the weather conditions and other mitigating circumstances.
‘We give each group a time schedule for each hole and we monitor that very stringently. If a group is out of position with the game in front or over the time schedule, we start with words of encouragement to communicate with them and tell them that they are over the schedule or out of position.
Hurry: Kevin Na must also watch his timings
‘Thereafter, if they don’t respond to that, we then put them on to the clock and deal with them that way. A second “bad time”, as the terminology goes, would precipitate the one-stroke penalty.’
The R&A are looking for three-ball groups to complete their rounds in four-and-a-half hours both today and tomorrow and for two-balls to take no more than three hours 45 minutes at the weekend.
They are anxious to make a wider impact in the game by eradicating the curse of slow play.
McArthur said: ‘Maybe not so much at professional golf but certainly amateur golf, slow play is, in some ways, if not killing the game, killing the club membership because of the time it takes to play.
Warning: Jim McArthur talked the talk
‘It needs to be a concerted effort, not just the R&A, not just the Tours, but the golf unions and other golf organisations too.’
It has to be said that none of the R&A hierarchy yesterday could recall an occasion when a player has been penalised a stroke during an Open — despite rounds frequently taking more than five hours.
It is also 17 years since anyone was pulled up for slow play in the United States, when the suitably named Glen ‘All’ Day crawled to a penalty in the third round of the Honda Classic.