(CNN)Debate surrounding slow play in golf has trundled on for years, but opposition to it has gathered steam at the PGA Tour’s Northern Trust event this week.
American Bryson DeChambeau has come under fire after taking over two minutes to play several shots, three times longer than the 40 seconds recommended in golf’s rulebook.
Clips circulating on social media showed DeChambeau taking his time to measure a 70-yard chip and a 10-feet putt at Liberty National in New Jersey, prompting fellow pros to wade in.
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“There are a few players that continually disrespect their fellow pro’s and continue to break the rules without a conscience [sic],” wrote Englishman Ian Poulter.
“It should be self policed but clearly this won’t happen … so disappointing it hasn’t been stopped.”
DeChambeau, who shot 71 on Saturday, was quick to hit back at critics of his ponderous shot-making.
“I take my 40 seconds that’s allotted, sometimes over, absolutely. Totally agree,” the 25-year-old told reporters.
“It’s maybe 5% of the time. But I’ll tell you that it’s really kind of unfortunate the way it’s perceived because there’s a lot of other guys that take a lot of time.
“When people start talking to me about slow play and how I’m killing the game, I’m doing this and that to the game, that is complete and utter you-know-what.
“I’m trying to do my absolute best. I’m trying to provide entertainment and I hope people can realize that it takes more than just me playing a shot in 30 seconds or 40 seconds for us to call it slow play.”
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It took the trio on DeChambeau, Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Thomas close to five hours to complete their round on Thursday.
Players who are deemed to be going round a course too slowly are put “on the clock” by officials and handed a one-shot penalty if they fail to speed up.
However, only two players since 1995 have received penalties. Miguel Angel Carballo and Brian Campbell were docked a shot at the 2017 Zurich Classic, but that was in a team event in which their timings were combined.
More commonly, players will be fined for slow play, but four-time major winner Brooks Koepka — a longtime crusader against slow play — called for penalty strokes to be implemented more rigorously ahead of the Northern Trust.
“What I don’t understand is if I hit it in the water I have to take a penalty stroke. It’s in the rulebook. And then you have 40 seconds to hit a shot, that’s in the rulebook too,” Koepka told reporters earlier this week.
“I think it’s just gotten out of hand. It seems now there are so many sports psychologists and everybody telling everybody that they can’t hit it until they’re ready, you have to fully process everything.
“I take 15 seconds and go and I’ve done alright.”
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Koepka was joined in his condemnation of slow play by Rory McIlroy, who said “it’s genuinely a problem in our game.”
Rather more straight-talking was Englishman Eddie Pepperell, who labeled DeChambeau an “unaffected single minded twit [that] doesn’t care much for others” on Twitter.
DeChambeau, a five-time winner on the PGA Tour, said he found the comments on social media “harmful” and singled out Pepperell, saying he’d “love to speak to him personally and talk about it.”
In an interview earlier this year, PGA Tour rules chief Slugger White said he “hate[s] slow play as much as the next guy” but is against the idea of penalty strokes because of how it might affect players lower down the rankings.
“Basically it means you’ve drastically affected the guy’s life with the click of a stopwatch,” he said.
“I’m all for looking at fine structures, maybe increasing them. But determining [a player’s] fate with a stopwatch to me is a little harsh.”