New senior contender Montgomerie calls for leading players to be penalised for slow play
The former European number one, competing for the first time in the Senior Open Championship, calls slow play ‘the biggest bugbear in golf’
Colin Montgomerie: “When I peg the ball up tomorrow it will be with a feeling that I have an opportunity to win as opposed to treading water on the (European) Tour. Photo: Phil Inglis/Getty
Former European number one Colin Montgomerie believes the introduction of a shot clock would instantly solve the problem of slow play on the course.
The Scot, who topped the Order of Merit on an unprecedented eight occasions from the late 1990s onwards, thinks all players should be timed from the moment they tee off
He said the “biggest bugbear” in golf was slow play and it needed to be tackled and that meant applying penalties fairly across the board.
At The Open last week, 19-year-old Japanese player Hideki Matsuyama, who only turned professional in April, was penalised a stroke for slow play in his third round but no high-profile player has ever been punished.
“What I would love to see, as a fast player knowing it would never happen to me, would be for one of the top players to have that shot penalty and then it would really resonate throughout the rest of the field,” said the Scot, who tomorrow tees off in the Senior Open at Royal Birkdale having turned 50 a month ago.
“If only one of them was finally found out because they are still taking too long.
“They should be playing in no more than four hours for any round of golf on any course.
“Unfortunately they are given far too long. Why do you have to wait to be slow before you are put on the clock?
“There are 52 referees out there at Major championships and they should all have a clock should be able to put them on the clock on the first tee to ensure they all get around in time.
“There should be an allotted time to play the game, like chess were you have a certain time to play.
“The biggest bugbear in golf is slow play.”
Montgomerie, who has reunited with caddy Alistair McLean with whom he won his eight Order of Merits, has played two tournaments as a senior so far, both in the United States.
And unlike his time on the European Tour, when some days he appeared ready to explode in a fit of rage, he is now playing with a smile on his face.
“When I peg the ball up tomorrow it will be with a feeling that I have an opportunity to win as opposed to treading water on the (European) Tour.
“I would love to win but winning now would be a bonus.
“Here the majors are more important to win. I am still very young to this and haven’t been in contention for a while, my last win was the European Open in 2007.”
Montgomerie tees off with defending champion Fred Couples and Mark O’Meara, the Claret Jug winner at Birkdale in 1998. Also in the field are US Ryder Cup captain and three-time Senior Open winner Tom Watson, who won the last of his five Opens here in 1983, and former Major winners Bernhard Langer and Sandy Lyle.