The Fastest Rounds of Golf
On Sunday at the Dubai Desert Classic, Sweden's Sebastian Soderberg - winner of the European Masters in September - astonishingly completed his final round in just 96 minutes, having ran between shots, a time that the European Tour has now reported to be a record.
Shooting a three-over 75, the 29-year-old went out first in the morning with a local marker and his caddie, reflecting afterwards: "I felt like it would be a fun thing to do and didn't necessarily think it would hurt my game too much.
"The important thing was my brother (Jasper) on the bag. He had the big job because he ran non-stop pretty much.
"He was excited about it this morning and that helped. He said, 'let's do it'.
"We talked before it. Whenever it was a par three he would go up on the green and wait. On par fours and fives, he would just leave the appropriate clubs."
Previously, just last year, Thomas Pieters completed a round in 1 hour 59 minutes at the Italian Open, but to complete 18-holes in little over an hour and a half on the challenging Majlis Course at the Emirates Golf Club, which measures 7,319 yards, is staggering.
Breaking down the fastest round in European Tour history:— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) January 27, 2020
1) 5 mins
2) 5 mins
3) 6 mins
4) 4 mins
5) 5 mins
6) 5 mins
7) 4 mins
8) 6 mins
9) 6 mins
10) 7 mins
11) 3 mins
12) 6 mins
13) 6 mins
14) 6 mins
15) 5 mins
16) 6 mins
17) 4 mins
18) 7 mins #ODDC pic.twitter.com/pYT4sQNJvj
But it's not unheard of. In 2017, Wesley Bryan completed his final round at the PGA Tour's BMW Championship in just 88 minutes, shooting 69. A year earlier, at the Tour Championship, Kevin Na - often decried for his pace of play - went round East Like at the Tour Championship in little under two hours.
However, for something truly staggering, the Guinness World Records notes that the record for 18 holes of golf was a round of 27 min 9 sec by James Carvill in 1987 at Warrenpoint Golf Course, Co. Down, on a layout measuring 6,154 yards. We're not too sure how that is physically possible, but it's a remarkable fact.
But, was Soderberg's 96 minutes genuinely a record on the European Tour? Well, former Ryder Cup player, Peter Baker contends that he and Paul Way had a quicker time, reported in 1990 at the Lancome Trophy, completing their round in 72 minutes. For whatever reason, the tour hasn't recognised that as the record, but newspaper reports at the time have confirmed it.
This is NOT the fastest round on tour myself and Paul Way in the last round of Lancôme Trophy went round in 72 minutes and I think Mark Roe and Robert Lee might have gone around quicker in another event @EuropeanTour https://t.co/1twDuBx8zD— Peter Baker (@peterbakergolf) January 26, 2020
Whatever the reality, it's a welcome alternative to be talking about fast play, rather than slow play, which has plagued the circuit to such an extent that the European Tour has unveiled new initiatives to tackle the issue. While it's unlikely that Sebastian Soderberg's version of speed golf is to be widely mandated, it does show what can be possible.
The 2019 Golfshake Survey found that 86% of golfers still believe that slow play is a significant problem. So, maybe it's time to get your running shoes on.
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