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slow play

‘Why are we forced to play with these guys?’ Harding fumes at slow players

European Tour winner Justin Harding couldn't hold back after getting stuck with a well-known slowcoach at the Saudi International
 

When the European Tour announced that it would be properly waging war on slow play last August it gave the players more than three months to get their house in order in terms of playing to the new regulations.

According to Justin Harding it seems like at least one of his peers is still a work in progress. After his closing round in Saudi Arabia, a 4-over 74 which dropped him 29 spots to 56th, the South African was unable to hold back his frustrations as he took to Twitter.

Something that won’t have been helped by reaching the turn in 2-under and then coming home in a proverbial ambulance with six bogeys in nine holes.

Less than three hours later there was this..

“F1 don’t say to Lewis Hamilton, ‘Hey pal just slow down because the guys behind can’t keep up.’ If the other 120 players in the field act properly why are we as players forced to play with these guys if they couldn’t give a shit? Week in week out, same story, same guys.”

Then, 13 minutes later, another entry into the slow play log book.

“Slow and fast players don’t exist. You have players that play with etiquette and in accordance to the rules and you have players who have no regard for it. NONE.”

Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn tried to lighten the mood by enquiring whether Harding was OK.

He replied: “All good Thomas. Just suffering the affects of a LONG day on the course with my partner.”

A few minutes later, he added: “Sorry, scratch that. I’m just tired from running in front of the referee all day.”

Given all the clues, it didn’t take too much to work out who Harding was talking about given that a) he was playing in a twoball with Adrian Otaegui, and b) he retweeted a couple of posts which pointed out that the culprit might be the  Spaniard.

Otaegui, you might remember, has a bit of previous when it comes to naming the slowcoaches. When Edoardo Molinari revealed last April the European Tour players who had been put on the clock Otaegui was one of just three players who had been fined, each $3,000. He also led the way with six bad times with two breaches among them.

Earlier in the week Graeme McDowell was put on the clock having just done an on-course interview with Sky Sports on the same hole so, while there has been a lot of positive noise over the efforts to speed things up, there have also been a few teething problems. McDowell has to play the rest of the tournament with another bad time meaning a one-shot which, thankfully, never came to pass.

The good news for Harding and co is that of this year the referees are now mandated to be proactive in targeting known slow players for in-position timing and the fines for repeat offenders are greater than in years gone by. A player who is timed 15 times in the 2020 season will have to pay £26,000 in fines as opposed to £9,000 previously.

As for Otaegui, needless to say he outscored Harding by three shots.

Join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Mark Townsend

Been watching and playing golf since the early 80s and generally still stuck in this period. Huge fan of all things Robert Rock, less so white belts. Handicap of 8, fragile mind and short game

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