x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

A timely call from Nicklaus on slowcoaches

Jack Nicklaus was right at last month's US Open to propose two-shot penalties for slow play.

Michelle Wie is at the centre of the slow-play debate.
Michelle Wie is at the centre of the slow-play debate.

Time waits for no man, or woman, especially on the golf course.

The game's bugbear reared its head last week at the US Women's Open, when Saturday's final group completed their round in five hours and 25 minutes. It contained Michelle Wie and Suzann Pettersen - a two-ball. Yet they positively raced through the back nine, having gone out in a colossal three hours, five minutes and 47 seconds. Ouch.

Is it any wonder women's golf struggles for viewing figures when you could spend the time instead devouring the first two instalments of the interminable Lord of the Rings trilogy?

It isn't a problem confined to the women's circuit. At the PGA Tour's season-opening Tournament of Champions, an irate Luke Donald, the world No 1, tweeted "slow play is killing our sport".

Tiger Woods urged the Tour to take action. The PGA Tour hasn't penalised anyone a stroke for slow play since 1995, not even to Kevin Na during May's Players Championship, when his laborious pre-shot routine drew heckles from the gallery.

Its European sibling, however, handed the fidgety Ross Fisher a one-shot penalty at the Welsh Open and fined him £6,000 (Dh 34,300). He claimed it an "injustice".

Jack Nicklaus was right at last month's US Open to propose two-shot penalties for slow play. Fines, he stressed, are no deterrent to golfers who regularly earn six figures for a tournament's work. Whether the game's legislators will act, though, only time will tell.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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