Mark down the last week of April 2017 as the recording of a unique double in tournament golf, when slow-play penalties were handed out on both the European and PGA tours.
A day after it was revealed that the PGA Tour penalized Brian Campbell and Miguel Angel Carballo for slow play at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, Korea’s Soomin Lee was docked a shot for a similar offense in the third round of the Volvo China Open.
Lee had already been handed two bad times before European Tour chief referee John Paramor informed Lee he’d picked up a third bad time on the 14th. The 23-year-old’s bogey on the par 4 turned into a double bogey, and contributed to his 1-over 73 to move him to joint seventh.
The European Tour has been far more proactive on slow play than the PGA Tour. Campbell and Carballo were the first players to be docked a shot for slow play since Glen Day in 1995. The European Tour has had no such reservations on slow-play penalties during that period. Charl Coetzee in the 2013 Tshwane Open and Ross Fisher in the 2012 Wales Open spring immediately to mind.
Paramor has never had qualms about docking players for resembling snails. He was the referee who famously handed 14-year-old Tianlang Guan a one-shot slow-play penalty during the 2013 Masters.
Chief executive Keith Pelley promised last year he was going to act to get play moving. Jordan Spieth was one of several players to be warned for slow play shortly after Pelley made his promise.
Shane Lowry revealed during last year’s Irish Open that the Euro Tour was more heavy-handed on slow play than the PGA Tour.
“American referees are not as intimidating as the European referees,” said Lowry, who plays both tours. “When you see John Paramor or Andy McFee (the European Tour’s chief referees) coming along, you know you want to speed up, and you know they will be hard on you. That’s what I like about the European Tour: they are a lot harder than they are over in America. The referees do their job well over here.”
Many still feel shot penalties for slow play don’t occur often enough. Scotland’s Paul Lawrie, the 1999 Open Champion, took to twitter upon hearing of Lee’s misdemeanour. “Needs to happen more often,” Lawrie tweeted.
Hopefully after this week it will.