Opinion: Don't make Jillian Bourdage the poster child for slow play

USGA/Steven Gibbons

Opinion: Don't make Jillian Bourdage the poster child for slow play

Junior

Opinion: Don't make Jillian Bourdage the poster child for slow play

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Don’t make Jillian Bourdage the poster child for slow play.

Last week Bourdage was on top of the world, advancing to the final of the U.S. Girls’ Junior. Now she must be horrified by the comments on social media about her pace of play in a clip that was posted on Twitter. Wouldn’t be surprised if she was on her second box of tissues by now.

The video highlights a comeback par putt Bourdage deliberated over on the 30th hole of a match that stretched to 36.

Slow play is a problem in golf. Can’t imagine anyone disputing that. But Bourdage is a 17-year-old Ohio State commit in the early stages of her career. She doesn’t deserve the same level of scrutiny as a professional athlete. She’s ranked 838th in the World Amateur Golf Rankings for goodness sake.

A few things to consider about the Girls’ Junior finale that make this the perfect storm for slow-play critics:

1. It was a commercial-free broadcast

2. This was the only match on the course

There’s no cutting away during the boring stuff. Plus, the players were never warned about being out of position. Officials checked the time after each hole of the match.

The first 18 holes took 4 hours and 4 minutes. Officials allowed 4 hours and 12 minutes for the second 18, and they beat that mark.

Last week Stacy Lewis took to twitter to rant about the length of time it took to play the second round of the Evian Championship.

“I will never understand 5 hours and 50 minutes to play a round of golf!” Lewis tweeted. “It’s not fun for us as players, can’t be fun to watch!”

Several players chimed in, including Paula Creamer.

Lewis says the pace of play on tour has gotten worse in recent years.

“Nobody cares, and it’s acceptable to play slow,” she said. “More slow players than fast ones now.”

She’d like to see her peers apply more pressure to the usual offenders.

Props to Lewis for taking a stand and being vocal. Something does need to change starting from the top.

But piling on a junior player who wasn’t even out of position during a 36-hole match and making her go viral for all the wrong reasons isn’t the answer.

Two years ago, Erica Shepherd went viral after her semifinal match at the Girls’ Junior. Her opponent, Elizabeth Moon, had raked back a putt out of frustration on the 19th hole. Shepherd immediately turned to Moon and said: “I didn’t say that was good.”

The match ended with Moon incurring a one-stroke penalty under Rule 18-2. Shepherd tried to play on, telling Moon and officials that she would’ve given that putt, but it was too late.

Shepherd started to bawl when the social media notifications began popping up on her phone.

“That night I honestly didn’t think I could play the next day I was so messed up,” she told Golfweek several months later. “I thought I would get beat, 19 and 18.”

Amazingly, Shepherd dug deep and won the championship.

The bright and talented Bourdage is 40 hours away from earning her pilot’s license. Maybe one day she’ll be like Peggy Kirk Bell, flying her own plane from tournament to tournament.

Rising high above the noise.

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