Opinion: Pace of play hits all-time slow at Solheim Cup

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Opinion: Pace of play hits all-time slow at Solheim Cup

Solheim Cup

Opinion: Pace of play hits all-time slow at Solheim Cup

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GLENEAGLES, Scotland – Golf is in big trouble when two Solheim Cup captains and a British Open champion slam the game for slow play and officials do absolutely nothing about it.

So much for the R&A and USGA recommending players should take no longer than 40 seconds to play a shot. That edict hasn’t filtered down to Solheim Cup players. Just as it hasn’t been absorbed by PGA or European Tour members.

Pace of play at this Solheim Cup seemed to hit an all-time slow. Snails, turtles and tortoises move faster than some of these players, especially in the fourball matches.

Yet only one player was given a bad time.

Just one!

MORE: Photos | Scores | List of winners

How slow were they? The first fourball match featuring Suzann Pettersen and Anne van Dam against Danielle Kang and Lizette Salas took 2 hours and 57 minutes for nine holes. Nine.

They took five hours and 11 minutes to play 16 holes.

Pace of play was one of the main topics on Twitter most of the day. Even 1999 British Open champion Paul Lawrie commented on it. He was at Gleneagles to watch the opening day.

He posted the following:

“Thoroughly enjoyable day @2019solheimcup @Gleneagleshotel crowds amazing and really good atmosphere but pace of play absolutely brutally slow.”

Normally captains rush to defend their players when they’re compared to glaciers. To their credit, neither U.S. captain Juli Inkster nor European counterpart Catriona Matthew hid from the issue.

“It’s painfully slow out there,” Inkster admitted. “I know we had maybe a couple on our side that are maybe a little bit slower, but they have a few on their side, too, that are a little slow. I don’t know what to do.”

Neither do the officials. They only gave one player a bad time. Lizette Salas was the only player told she had picked up a bad time, which happened on the 13th when she took 72 seconds to play a shot. Another bad time and she would have been disqualified from the hole, leaving Kang to play on her own.

Why Salas was singled out is a mystery.

“It’s not fair,” Inkster said. “Other players know how to play the game – when they say we’re timing them, they speed up.”

Salas’ bad time was unfair. Play was slow from the opening foursomes match featuring Carlota Ciganda and Bronte Law against Morgan Pressel and Marina Alex. They were put on the clock as early as the fourth hole. Ciganda was a clear culprit. She took longer than 72 seconds numerous times, in the morning and afternoon, yet she wasn’t given a bad time.

“Obviously that back nine this afternoon did get pretty slow,” European captain Catriona Matthew said. “I don’t really know what caused it.

“Some of the players on both sides do take quite a while to hit a shot. But it’s the officials really. They’re the ones who police the pace of play, so it’s really up to them.”

Wishful thinking. If Matthew thinks officials are going to do something then she’s living in a parallel universe. The game won’t speed up until the governing bodies stipulate that 40 seconds is the maximum time, not the recommended time.

The frustrating thing is that it would be so easy for officials to move players along. Each one carries a stopwatch. What’s so hard about stepping in when a player goes over 40 seconds to tell a player she’s picked up a one-shot penalty?

Until that happens the game is in trouble, because slow play is killing golf. Pace of play ruined what should have been a fantastic spectacle on the opening day of the 16th Solheim Cup.

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