Slow play became an issue again at a major championship on Saturday afternoon at the Open Championship when Hideki Matsuyama was assessed a one-stroke penalty at the 17th hole. Shortly afterwards, it was announced that Tiger Woods and Lee Westwood were also put on the clock because they were over ten minutes behind the group in front of them. Would they really give Tiger a penalty?
As it turns out, third round leader, Miguel Angel Jimenez, and his playing partner, Henrik Stenson were also put on the clock for slow play. The only one who was assessed a penalty was the youngster, Matsuyama. Sounds a little like the Masters, when 18 year-old Tianlang Guan was given a one-stroke penalty, and no one else was penalized even though they may have been playing slowly. The rule, and penalties seem to be very selective in these huge events where there are a lot of dollars, and titles on the line.
“I’ll say this,” Azinger said, “it’s a lot easier to give Matsuyama a one-shot penalty than it is to give Tiger Woods or Lee Westwood a one-shot penalty in this situation.”
Curtis Strange provided this explanation for why play was slow. “It’s so tough to play at a pace when these greens are so demanding and so tricky. It just takes a while. I’m not defending slow play at all. But when your ball bounces all over the world and it’s tough to get it up and in, that’s what slows the game down.”
I can’t imagine a fan at a Dallas Cowboy football game going up to an official and accuse the left tackle of holding on a play. First of all, he would be arrested for being on the field, and thrown out of the game. But in golf, it happens every day. Martin Laird is the latest victim of a zealous fan wanting to be part of the outcome.
Tomorrow at Muirfield, the Californian has a chance to banish that unhappy memory and occupy a new place in our minds, although he will likely have to play the role of villain if he is to do so: the man who denied Lee Westwood his first major.
How can we forget the four shot meltdown last year at Royal Lytham? Adam Scott has a chance to return the favor this year, and play the spoiler for home hero, Lee Westwood who is very close to winning his first major. Sometimes fate is a strange partner, who knows, maybe it’s Scott’s year to shine, and last year wasn’t.
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