Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka have some solutions to slow play, Matt Kuchar gets rinsed, and Lydia Ko hits back at the haters. Alex Perry wraps up a busy week in The Slam

Hello. Welcome to this week’s edition of The Slam. There is a lot to get through today so shall we just crack straight on? Before we get to Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka laying into golf’s slow play problem, here are a couple of other little nuggets you might enjoy…

Not again Kuch

Now you may remember a small incident involving Matt Kuchar and a local caddie – I’m pretty sure people were talking about it.

Fast forward to this week and one of the most beautiful moments caught on camera.

Ahead of the FedEx Cup play-offs, which start with the Northern Trust, the players in the Wyndham Rewards Top 10 (me either) are doing some TV promo stuff when Kuchar ribs McIlroy for overtaking him and, as a result, costing him $300,000. McIlroy responds with… well, just watch…

Sick burn, as I believe the kids say. This clip has everything: Kuchar realising halfway through his joke that he’s setting himself up, Koepka thinking about saying it, Rory actually saying it, both reacting like a naughty schoolboy, and Kuch trying so hard to hide his rage.


Tiger roast

Speaking of good burns, Tiger Woods had this backhanded compliment about Henrik Stenson in a thoroughly entertaining reader Q&A for GolfTV…

The Americans don’t really do dry, do they?

Calling home

Speaking of Stenson, Imagine having so much money that you could afford to wave off the chance at winning the FedEx Cup’s $15 million jackpot.

I’m being flippant, of course, but the former FedEx Cup champ has opted to skip the PGA Tour’s three week end-of-season party to head home to Sweden, where he will play in the Scandinavian Invitation.

The event, which replaces the Nordea Masters on the European Tour schedule, takes place the same week as the Tour Championship and Stenson wants to support the event in his homeland.

I can think of a few players who should take note…

KO blow

We haven’t heard much about Lydia Ko recently. The New Zealander, who won 14 – FOURTEEN – times before she was out of her teens, has since had, what we call in the biz, an “absolute mare”.

In the three years since that 14th win, Ko has undergone many changes, including multiple coaches and caddies, and picked up just one further victory.

And David Leadbetter, Ko’s coach from 2013 to 2016, knows where the blame lies.

“Her parents have a lot to answer for – a case of unbelievable ignorance,” he told New Zealand’s Radio Sport. “They tell her when to go to bed, what to eat, what to wear, when to practice and what to practice. And they expect her to win every tournament.

“They need to let her go, let her fly, let her leave the nest so to speak and find her own way. If she can do that, we could see Lydia back.”

Leadbetter had advice for Ko, too, saying she should “look to take a break right now”.

He added: “It really is a very sad situation to observe. As many changes as she’s made, not only coaching, caddies and equipment, and sports psychologists and trainers, she’s also changed her body type now.

“Who knows what’s going on inside her head right now? And obviously her team needs to get things together because the longer it goes on, the tougher it is for her to get out of it.”

Ko’s response?

Slow play solution

Here we go, now we’re getting juicy.

McIlroy and Koepka – in particular the latter – have hardly kept their disdain for slow play a secret. Who can forget this wonderful moment from the Open, where Brooksy was playing with notorious offender JB Holmes?

And when the pair were asked for their thoughts ahead of the Northern Trust, they didn’t hold back.

“It’s just gotten out of hand,” Koepka said. “It seems now that there are so many sports psychologists and everybody telling everybody that they can’t hit it until they are ready; that you have to fully process everything. I mean, I take 15 seconds and go, and I’ve done all right.”

“It’s just frustrating as a player when you’re out there. Sometimes they might be trying to decide what club to hit. Well, you’ve had a day to think about it, and it’s pretty clear what the tee shot is. A lot of times it’s on the simpler shots. The difficult ones, you already know what to do with it, but it’s the simpler ones where guys seem to take their time.”

“I don’t think anybody likes waiting. Especially if you’re going to be sitting on a tee box for 15 minutes to hit your shot. I get that you can take a long time for your thought process, but once you’re done thinking about, just go. What else is there to do? That’s been the problem I have.

“I get that we’re out here, we’re playing, and there’s nothing I can do about it, but at the same time, it’s up to the rules officials. What I don’t understand is if I hit in the water, I have to take a penalty stroke. It’s in the rule book. And then you have 40 seconds to hit a shot. That’s in the rule book, too. So I don’t want to take a penalty shot. They are all in the rule book. So figure it out and penalize somebody.”

McIlroy, who said the PGA Tour “don’t do anything about it” and that slow play has “become an epidemic” ahead of the Players earlier this year, added his two cents.

“I don’t think it’s fine to do nothing because it’s genuinely a problem in our game. It starts at our level because people try to emulate us. I’ve heard stories of college events and how long they take. There’s no reason why it should take that long,” the 30-year-old said, perhaps referring to a recent incident from the US Girls’ Junior Championship that went vital.

McIlroy even went one step further with a suggestion of how to fix the issue.

“The guys that are slow are the guys that get too many chances before they are penalised,” he said. “So it should be a warning and then a shot [penalty].

“It should be you’re put on the clock and that is your warning, and then if you get a bad time while on the clock, it’s a shot. That will stamp it out right away.

“I don’t understand why we can’t just implement that. We are not children that need to be told five or six times what to do. OK, you’re on the clock, OK, I know if I play slowly here, I’m going to get penalised and I think that’s the way forward.”

McIlroy and Koepka won’t have to worry about slow play at Liberty National – they are paired together in the play-offs opener. You can follow every shot from Liberty National with NCG’s live leaderboard, and if you have no idea what the ridiculous play-offs format is all about, we have a handy cut-out-and-keep guide to that.

See, I told you we had a lot to get through. Below is some other stuff by my talented team you might like, including something else on slow play, but first I leave you with the latest nugget from Phil Mickelson…

Alex Perry


Alex has been the editor of National Club Golfer since 2017. A Devonian who enjoys wittering on about his south west roots, Alex moved north to join NCG after more than a decade in London, the last five of which were with ESPN. Away from golf, Alex follows Torquay United and spends too much time playing his PlayStation or his guitar and not enough time practising his short game.

Handicap: 14

PGA Catalunya Stadium PGA Catalunya Stadium

The NCG Top 100s Tour is heading to Europe for a multi-day event at PGA Catalunya. Prices start at £799 per golfer.


Subscribe to NCG