Fitzpatrick slams slow play on Tour – “It’s truly appalling”

John Craven

Matt Fitzpatrick (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Matt Fitzpatrick has slammed a slow play epidemic plaguing golf after a farcical few weeks at the top tier of the sport.

Fitzpatrick played alongside one of the slowest of all, Patrick Cantlay, in the final round of last week’s RBC Heritage where the Englishman managed to keep his cool to beat Jordan Spieth in a playoff and claim the title at Hilton Head.

The reigning U.S. Open champion continues to be amazed by the pace of play on tour, describing rounds that spill into four-and-a-half hours plus as nothing short of a “disgrace”.


“If you’re in a three-ball, in my opinion you should be round in four hours, four-and-a-half absolute maximum – it’s a disgrace to get anywhere near that,” told Sky Sports. “You’re talking five hours and 15 minutes, five-and-a-half hours at some venues and it’s truly appalling.

“The problem is this conversation has gone on for years and years and years, and no one has ever done anything so I feel it’s almost a waste of time talking about it. I have strong opinions, but no one’s going to do anything about it.”

Fitzpatrick happens to be one of golf’s quickest players, praised for readying himself to hit while it’s his playing partner’s turn. It shows how far standards have stooped on the PGA Tour that basic etiquette is deemed worthy of highlighting but that’s what happens when you’ve a book of rules regularly unenforced when it comes to slow play.

It was only in 2020 that the PGA Tour introduced a Pace of Play policy permitting players 40 seconds to hit their respective shots. Players taking 45 seconds or more to hit over a 10-tournament period were going to be put on an Observation List –  a list worth observing if for no other reason than to see if anyone’s ever been on it!

Because if Cantlay’s not on it, having been clocked at a minute to hole a four-foot putt, almost three minutes to pitch out from the trees, and more than five minutes to decide what shot to play from the sleepers – all at last week’s RBC Heritage alone – you’d have to wonder just how far a player has to push the time limit in order to suffer punishment.

“It’s like hitting your head against a brick wall,” Fitzpatrick says. “No one ever gets penalised. I think the last person to get penalised was the young lad (Guan Tianlang) at The Masters in 2013. I think that tells you enough about where people are at with this. It’s ridiculous really.

“I think it’s a real issue, way more needs to be done. The thing is I really like referees over here, they are great people, but I did not see a single ref all day. There were a few shots we were waiting and I don’t understand where they are all hiding. It does become frustrating when you are waiting so long.”

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