'Time to penalise slow play'

DUBLIN • New Masters champion Danny Willett and Irishman Shane Lowry believe the PGA Tour needs to act on curbing slow play.

Willett has returned to Europe to tee-up in this week's Irish Open at the K. Club and will be the first reigning Augusta National winner to compete since Spain's Jose Maria in 1994.

However, after Jason Day took nearly six hours to play last Saturday's third round in the Players Championship in Florida, the English-born Willett says tournament tortoises should be formally identified.

The last player in the US singled out for slow play was, bizarrely, 14-year old Guan Tianlang, who was docked a shot at the 2013 Masters. The Chinese amateur was the first player slapped with any stroke-play penalty ever in the tournament.

"Potentially they (PGA Tour) need to nail down how long it takes you to play your shot," said Willett. "We don't want to play a six-hour round but sometimes you're playing for a lot of money, world ranking points and there's a lot on the line.

"To take an extra 15, 20 seconds over a shot could be the difference between picking up a shot or losing a shot.

"Is it worthwhile taking a fine or a penalty or whatever it is? I don't know as it's a tricky one."

However, Lowry did not mince his words, seemingly singling out world No. 1 Day for being among the slowest.

Indeed, Wayne Riley, a former Tour professional now working as a television pundit, said his fellow Australian is being known now as "All Day".

Lowry played the third round of last week's Players Championship alongside the eventual TPC Sawgrass winner. That round took six hours while a day later he played alongside Graeme McDowell and the pair took four hours.

"I got an e-mail from the PGA Tour saying I've been timed five times this year on the Tour but that's not a reflection of me," he said. "It's a reflection of the players I am playing with. It took us (Lowry and Day) nearly six hours to play our round on Saturday... The only thing they can do is start penalising them shots as players don't care about fines."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 19, 2016, with the headline ''Time to penalise slow play''. Print Edition | Subscribe