Too slow? Not so fast: DeChambeau comes out swinging

American golfer has been criticised by fellow pros over his pace of play at The Northern Trust

 Bryson DeChambeau lines up a putt on the fifth green during the third round of The Northern Trust at Liberty National Golf Club  in  New Jersey. Photograph: Jared C Tilton/Getty Images

Bryson DeChambeau lines up a putt on the fifth green during the third round of The Northern Trust at Liberty National Golf Club in New Jersey. Photograph: Jared C Tilton/Getty Images

 

Slow play was the topic, but Bryson DeChambeau wasted no time getting started. He stepped atop the interview platform Saturday at Liberty National Golf Club and, before a question could be asked, said: “I’ll introduce this and talk about it.”

What followed amounted to an impassioned 16-minute character defence. “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,” DeChambeau said. His par-71 round at The Northern Trust on Saturday left him at six under, eight strokes off the pace of the 54-hole leader, Patrick Reed, who carded a 67.

Rory McIlroy remains in contention at 10 under despite a frustrating third round of one-under 71, where he traded five birdies off against four bogeys, while British Open champion Shane Lowry slipped back after a one-over 71 left him on five under.

The crowd of reporters huddled around DeChambeau was twice as large as the one that showed up to hear Reed speak, proving that until punitive measures are taken by the PGA Tour, slow play is going to threaten to overshadow sterling play.

DeChambeau, the defending champion, and Dylan Frittelli, the player with whom he was paired in the third round, had just played 18 holes in a combined 146 strokes over four hours. None of that was the problem. At issue was DeChambeau’s play during Friday’s second round, where he took 2 minutes, 20 seconds to execute an 11-foot putt on one hole and 2½ minutes to complete a 70-yard approach shot on another. Video clips from both holes were posted to social media and quickly went viral.

Critics of the PGA Tour’s pace-of-play issues, in general, and DeChambeau’s deliberateness, in particular, were quick to weigh in. One needed only to read the tweets of Eddie Pepperell, the 40th-ranked player in the world, to gauge which way the winds inside the golfing bubble were blowing.

“Slow players do this to their playing partners making the game less enjoyable,” Pepperell said on Twitter. “Problem is the unaffected single-minded twit in this instance doesn’t care much for others.”

DeChambeau, 25, a five-time PGA Tour winner, fired back: “I would love to speak to him personally and talk about it.” He added: “Look, I am not really that sensitive of a guy. I don’t get hurt by a lot of things. It’s not like I’m throwing clubs and slamming clubs, you know. This is a conversation about playing golf in a certain time.”

The tour tracks pace of play according to a group’s position relative to the groups in front of it. If a group is deemed to have fallen behind the overall pace, all the players in the group are put on a clock, after which they have 40 seconds to complete a shot unless they are the first to hit in the group.

Once on the clock, a player has to exceed the time limit twice for a one-stroke penalty to be assessed. Players remain on the clock until they are deemed not to be out of position. DeChambeau’s groups were not placed on the clock Friday or Saturday.

Tommy Fleetwood, who was in DeChambeau’s Friday threesome, said, in reference to the putt and approach shot, “If we were on the clock he wouldn’t have taken that amount of time, for sure.”

DeChambeau argued that he strides quickly to his ball, and since he often outdrives the other players in his group, he hits last and can’t set up his next shot until it is his turn.

Obviously, not all shots carry the same degree of difficulty. And if the wind is blowing, as it was Saturday, and the greens are slick, a player is going to take longer than usual.

“If it’s not an easy shot, I’m going to take a little bit longer because that’s my job,” DeChambeau said. “I’m trying to do my absolute best. I’m trying to provide entertainment, and I hope that people can realise that it takes more than just me playing a shot in 30 seconds or 40 seconds for us to call it slow play.”

Justin Thomas, who rounded out DeChambeau’s threesome Friday, started two groups after him Saturday. DeChambeau was still holding court with reporters when Thomas, a Major winner and former world No 1, walked past him on his way to sign his scorecard.

Thomas didn’t need to stop to know what was being discussed. “I like Bryson as a person, but he’s a slow golfer,” Thomas said, adding, “I hate saying this because I don’t want Bryson to think I’m throwing him under the bus or anything like that, but it’s just unfortunate where the pace of play is in the game at the moment.”

Thomas said there are others who need to play faster. But on Friday, DeChambeau was the one in his group and, hence, in his crosshairs. “It’s hard because I should have just said something to him in person,” Thomas said. “If I feel that strongly about it, I don’t need to hide behind it.”

DeChambeau said the criticism was on his mind during Saturday’s round. “It was stressful,” he said. – New York Times

LEADERBOARD
(USA unless stated, par 71):

199 Patrick Reed 66 66 67

200 Abraham Ancer (Mex) 67 65 68

201 Jon Rahm (Esp) 64 68 69, Brandt Snedeker 71 67 63

202 Justin Rose (Eng) 65 68 69, Harold Varner III 67 67 68, Danny Willett (Eng) 66 70 66

203 Rory McIlroy (N Irl) 65 68 70, Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) 68 65 70

204 Dustin Johnson 63 67 74, Max Homa 66 71 67, Troy Merritt 62 70 72

205 Brian Stuard 66 69 70, Ian Poulter (Eng) 68 66 71, Jordan Spieth 67 64 74, Webb Simpson 65 73 67

206 Wyndham Clark 67 66 73, Justin Thomas 67 68 71, Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn) 68 68 70, Adam Scott (Aus) 68 69 69, Matt Jones (Aus) 67 71 68, Billy Horschel 72 67 67, Kevin Kisner 64 70 72

207 JT Poston 67 70 70, Andrew Putnam 69 64 74, Byeong-Hun An (Kor) 73 66 68, Patrick Cantlay 70 67 70, Cameron Champ 71 70 66, Jim Furyk 72 66 69, Cheng-Tsung Pan (Tai) 68 67 72, Bryson DeChambeau 68 68 71, Sebastian Munoz (Col) 70 69 68, Ryan Moore 68 72 67, Corey Conners (Can) 66 71 70

208 Kevin Na 69 67 72, Tony Finau 65 73 70, Brooks Koepka 70 69 69, Jason Kokrak 68 70 70, Andrew Landry 68 67 73, Shane Lowry (Irl) 69 67 72, Ryan Armour 70 68 70

209 Roger Sloan (Can) 68 70 71, Russell Henley 69 70 70, Brian Harman 68 71 70, Chez Reavie 66 74 69

210 Adam Schenk 67 72 71, JB Holmes 70 71 69, Vaughn Taylor 69 68 73, Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) 69 72 69, Tyrrell Hatton (Eng) 69 69 72

211 Nick Watney 71 69 71, Kyle Stanley 69 70 72, Lucas Glover 71 68 72, Chesson Hadley 66 72 73, Adam Hadwin (Can) 67 71 73, Joel Dahmen 67 69 75, Keegan Bradley 70 69 72, Cameron Smith (Aus) 67 74 70, Mackenzie Hughes (Can) 73 68 70, Keith Mitchell 70 70 71, Sungjae Im (Kor) 67 68 76, Dylan Frittelli (Rsa) 69 67 75

212 Matthew Wolff 69 71 72, Rory Sabbatini (Svk) 68 73 71, Aaron Wise 68 73 71, Gary Woodland 73 68 71, Branden Grace (Rsa) 68 73 71, Scott Piercy 71 70 71, Danny Lee (Nzl) 70 69 73, Joaquin Niemann (Chi) 70 71 71, Kevin Tway 68 73 71, Jhonattan Vegas (Ven) 72 69 71

213 Phil Mickelson 72 66 75, Talor Gooch 74 67 72, Collin Morikawa 71 70 72

214 Carlos Ortiz (Mex) 67 74 73

215 Luke List 69 70 76, Ryan Palmer 70 67 78

216 Bud Cauley 68 70 78, Francesco Molinari (Ita) 69 72 75, Scott Brown 70 69 77, Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha) 67 73 76, Charley Hoffman 74 67 75, Martin Laird (Sco) 71 70 75

217 Si Woo Kim (Kor) 70 71 76

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