Beware deliberate golfers, the European Tour is cracking down on slow play. The ruling body of professional golf outside the United States announced a four-point plan beginning next season that is designed at improving pace of play through firmer penalties, increased fines, smaller field sizes and new technology.
Both the PGA and European tours have had to address slow-play complaints from golfers such as Brooks Koepka and Francesco Molinari. While the PGA Tour said it was looking into the matter, the European Tour decided to act.
“We are already at the forefront of pace-of-play management in the professional game, but after being mandated by our tournament committee to be even firmer in dealing with this issue, the time was right to take these additional steps,” said Keith Pelley, chief executive of the European Tour. “I believe the plan we are implementing for the 2020 season will bring about meaningful change that will make golf even more enjoyable for the players and our fans, whether they are at the course in person or watching on television.”
Some of the notorious slow play golfers include Kevin Na, J.B. Holmes, and Bryson DeChambeau on the PGA Tour, and Henrik Stenson, Jon Rahm, and Lucas Bjerregaard, who play on the European and PGA Tour. DeChambeau took a boatload of criticism on social media after a video was posted of him taking two minutes to hit an 8-foot putt.
What Pelley and the European Tour wants to do is a one-shot penalty for two bad times in a round, increase fines for consistently slow play throughout the year, educate players about the rules, and have smaller fields and longer intervals between weekend tee times.
The BMW PGA at Wentworth on Sept. 19-20 will act as a testing ground for the new initiatives. It adds to the tour’s initial steps including a shot clock.
Tiger Might Pick Tiger
Presidents Captain Tiger Woods has four picks he can make to fill out his team for the Ryder Cup-style competition that will take place in December. He hinted in a conference call with reporters on Monday that he wouldn’t rule himself out for one of the picks.
“That’s up to myself and the vice captains and eight guys [who qualified for the team],” Woods said. “I’m going to keep an open line of communication with my players and my vice captains to find the four guys that they want to go down there with and who best fits the team.”
Woods currently sits at No. 13 on the list, so there are four golfers, Gary Woodland, Tony Finau, Rickie Fowler, and Patrick Reed, ahead of him in the standings.
It sounded like from his comments that there will be a tryout of sorts in the months leading to his Nov. 4 announcement of who is on the team.
“I’ll be playing with a lot of the guys [in south Florida],” said Woods, who is only scheduled to play the new Zozo Championship this fall. “They’re going to be getting ready for some of the fall events, we’ll have some matches, and that’s always fun because we’re able to talk trash and have a great time and try and get in one another’s pockets. That will be something that I will definitely rely on.”
Justin Thomas New Favorite
With his victory at the BMW Championhip, Justin Thomas has replaced Brooks Koepka as the favorite to win the season-ending FedEx Cup. Thomas is 9/4 at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. Patrick Cantlay and Koepka are next at 9/2.
Though Thomas will start the Tour Championship at 10-under par with the new scoring system, he isn’t going to take the advantage for granted.
“It’s going to be new,” said Thomas, adding, “I’m going to go out and play as well as I can and try not to look at the leader board as much as possible. I really love that golf course, but I have to drive it a lot better than I did today, and really this week. You drive it well around there and you can play well, but drive it like I did today and it’ll be tough, so we’ve got a little work to do.”
This Week’s Odds, Pick
Justin Thomas is the 3/2 favorite to win the Tour Championship. Patrick Cantlay and Brooks Koepka are 9/2. We like Jon Rahm at 16/1.