x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

It's time US tour issued penalties for slow play of golfers

The European Tour continues to quietly soldier on against a culprit that truly threatens to quash interest in the game – slow play, writes Steve Elling.

Tiger Woods of the U.S. hits his tee shot on the 3rd hole during the final round of play in the Honda Classic PGA golf tournament in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida March 3, 2013. REUTERS/Brian Blanco (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT GOLF) *** Local Caption *** PAL103_GOLF-PGA-_0303_11.JPG
Tiger Woods of the U.S. hits his tee shot on the 3rd hole during the final round of play in the Honda Classic PGA golf tournament in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida March 3, 2013. REUTERS/Brian Blanco (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT GOLF) *** Local Caption *** PAL103_GOLF-PGA-_0303_11.JPG

It passed virtually unnoticed, which is a pity, really. Because with the distractions the professional game has had over the past few weeks, this is a development worth remembering, if not celebrating.

As the PGA Tour continues an absurd fight with the game's rule-makers over the use of putters anchored to the body, an issue that has little impact on the public version of the sport, the European Tour continues to quietly soldier on against a culprit that truly threatens to quash interest in the game - slow play.

In the final round of the inaugural Tshwane Open in South Africa last weekend, EuroTour rules officials zapped Charl Coetzee with a one-shot penalty for dawdling.

He had been the leader after the second and third rounds, mind you, so this was not a merely ceremonial circumstance. The European Tour, compared to its American counterpart, has been far more proactive in giving a kick in the trousers when needed over the years, to its eternal credit. So has the LPGA, the third-most important tour in the game.

That leaves the US tour, the most influential of them all. Yet Tim Finchem, the commissioner, continues to insist that penalty strokes are not necessary, and the tour has not done it since 1995.

Meanwhile, it took Tiger Woods's threesome a numbing two-and-a-half hours to play the front nine last week at the Honda Classic- not to single out Woods, who has openly espoused penalties because play has often become glacial and painful to stomach.

Naw, Tim, it's not an issue at all.

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