By Phil Casey
Bryson DeChambeau insists he welcomes the European Tour’s crackdown on slow play, which includes a significant change to the previously announced four-point plan at this week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
Players will now be given an immediate one-shot penalty for exceeding the time limit – 50 seconds if first to play, 40 seconds thereafter – in a tournament, rather than for two such transgressions within a round.
DeChambeau vowed to improve his pace of play after coming in for stinging criticism from fellow professionals for an incident during last season’s Northern Trust at Liberty National.
Eddie Pepperell and Ian Poulter were among the players to hit out at DeChambeau after video emerged of him taking two minutes and 20 seconds to hit an eight-foot putt.
“I love it,” DeChambeau said in quotes reported by The Scotsman following his pre-tournament press conference in Abu Dhabi.
“I don’t want to be out there for six hours, nor does anybody. And there’s numerous times out there, more than not, I’m waiting, our group is waiting for people to go, and so I certainly don’t want to be waiting on players. It’s going to hurt my momentum.
“Every time it happens, I feel like I get cold. I don’t want that to happen to people behind me or in front of me. There’s a lot of things that happen during the course of a golf round. People don’t just hit in the middle of the fairway or on the green all the time. You have situations that occur.”
To take that into account, players will have the option to request one time extension per round, giving an additional 40 seconds to hit a shot.
“They have done that beautifully,” DeChambeau added. “Having the: ‘Hey, can I get 40 more seconds because this is a weird shot, the wind came up, or something happened’, I think that’s great. I think what they did there is awesome.”
Along with the shortened process before penalties are handed out, there will also be increased fines for players who are regularly timed by officials during the season.
European Tour chief referee John Paramor said: “The tougher measures which come into effect in Abu Dhabi empower our referees to more effectively target slower players.
“Changing the regulation for an immediate one-shot penalty to now be triggered by two bad times in a tournament instead of a round will force slower players to consistently ensure they play within timing regulations.
“This is part of our wider, robust policy to tackle slow play but our fundamental advice to all players remains consistent – they should be ready to play when it is their turn.”
A new timing system was tested at the BMW PGA Championship in September, with a further trial taking place in Abu Dhabi.
The aim is to use the system in a number of events in 2020, providing referees with the precise times for every group through every hole to make sure that no gaps are missed.
On-tee displays will also provide the players information on their position in relation to the group in front.
Field sizes at fully-sanctioned events will be reduced from 156 to a minimum of 144 provided that all entered players in Category 18 (the final 116-132 on the 2019 Race to Dubai) and above make it into the event.