Stacy Lewis Deserves Praise for Slow Play Comments
ANYBODY who watched the Women’s Scottish Open will have discovered a cure for insomnia. It took the final group five hours and 16 minutes to complete 18 holes. Watching paint dry is a more attractive proposition. We keep hearing that the authorities are going to do something to address this. Penalties have been put in place. But nobody seems to have the courage to implement them.
So step forward Stacy Lewis and take a bow. The American said that she knew before stepping out on the golf course that it was going to a long and painful journey. And she was quite correct. No matter your standing in the game - and Lewis is one of the best - it takes some courage to call out your playing partners by name, and that is exactly what Lewis did.
If she had lost the tournament her comments would have been seen as sour grapes, but Lewis won the event - her first victory since 2017. She said that she told her caddie early in the day that she was not going to let the funereal pace of play affect her, so she chose to sing songs in her head to pass the time it took for her to wait for Azahara Munoz and Jennifer Song to hit the golf ball. Worst of all for Lewis was that she had to play in the same three ball on each of the final two days.
“The biggest challenge for me was staying in what I am doing,” said Lewis after the third round. “The pace of play is dreadfully slow and that doesn’t play to my favour. People I am playing with are pretty slow. So my biggest challenge is to figure out with that pace of play how I can get myself into a good rhythm and not feel like you are waiting so long between holes and shots and different things.”
Lewis got the job done with a final round of 72, getting herself into a playoff with Cheyenne Knight and Emily Kristine Pedersen, which she won at the first time of asking with a 20-foot birdie putt.
“I told my caddie on the second hole on Sunday that I am not allowed to complain about the pace of play,” said Lewis. “So I didn’t allow it to get to me. I was singing songs in my head, just getting away from everything, just trying to pass the time. I am really proud of the way I handled it.
“It really shouldn’t take that long to play but I knew it was going to, that’s the sad part. An effort needs to be made across the board to play faster. I wasn’t watching it on TV but I am sure it couldn’t have been much fun. There’s just so much the announcers can talk about to fill time. I have been an advocate for changing our pace of play, getting people to play faster for a long time, and we are still going the other way.
“Players need to be penalised rather than fined. It needs to be aggressive. It needs to change because we are going in the wrong direction.”
Lewis is right. If players were given a two-shot penalty for failing to play within the allotted time you can be absolutely certain that the pace of play would soon speed up.
Munoz and Song may well point to the difficulty of the course. Yes, the rough was thick. Yes, there was some wind. But it was the same for everybody in the field. You sometimes get the impression that players spend so much time analysing the shots that they face that they simply end up getting in their own way. They overthink things. And you have to pity the poor caddies who have to stand there and listen to all the indecision.
And let’s not pretend it’s just the women’s game. Kevin Na, Jason Day, JB Holmes and, of course, Bryson DeChambeau must drive their playing partners to distraction. Na and DeChambeau are serial offenders, both of whom have been criticised by their peers. DeChambeau has made it clear that he will continue to do things his own way. He is wrong.
This is an issue we have addressed many, many times, and we still seem to be no further forward. The penalties are there. Why, oh why, aren’t they imposed? It is time to set the right example. If we don’t, we will continue to be served up with rounds of golf lasting in excess of five hours - and viewers at home will start switching off in droves.
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