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  • Alistair Tait

The tortoises are getting tardier

Not that we really needed to be told today's tour professionals are slow, but there’s surely a problem when the caddie of one of the slowest golfers who ever played the game says most of today’s players take just as long to play a round of golf. Hear the words of Pete Coleman, as told to Global Golf Post’s Lewine Mair:

“They’re all like tortoises now,” Coleman said.

The former caddie, who turns 80 this week, realised just how slow pace of play is nowadays while watching the recent WGC–Dell Technologies Match Play.

“At one stage, I went out of the room to make a cup of tea, and when I got back the same fellow was still weighing up the same putt!” Coleman added.

Coleman can write a book on slow play: he spent years caddying for Bernhard Langer. The German may have won two Masters, 40 other European tournaments, and 41 Champions Tour victories but he has never been quick about it.

In fact, pretty sure there have been times when Langer perhaps used his ponderous pace of play to try to put off opponents. That much seemed obvious in the final round of the 2015 Senior Open Championship at Sunningdale.

Langer played in the final group with Colin Montgomerie and Marco Dawson. On the 12th hole, European Tour referee Mark Litton approached the trio and told them they had fallen behind, they’d need to pick up the pace. Montgomerie blew a gasket:

“We need to pick up the pace? We need to pick up the pace?” Monty fumed. “It’s HIM. He needs to pick up the pace!”

Litton quickly hightailed it away from Montgomerie. If Langer heard, then he didn’t let on. If anything, he seemed to play a little slower to antagonise Montgomerie even more.

It worked.

Monty was done. He had no chance of winning with his cool gone. He was in a red mist.

Dawson was oblivious to the feud between the two former Ryder Cup teammates. He sailed through it to win his first senior major. Monty was in such a tizzy afterwards he refused to do press interviews. He left Sunningdale Golf Club in a hurry that Sunday afternoon.

Langer is to be commended for his longevity. At 63 years young he won’t look too out of place on the fairways of Augusta National this week. He might be 50-60 yards behind young guns like Bryson DeChambeau and defending champion Dustin Johnson, but he’s looking to make the cut in the Masters for the fourth year in a row. He was eighth in 2014.

His pace of play won’t look out of place either. Indeed, he might even be quicker than many of the current crop who seem to think it’s perfectly acceptable to take forever to play a golf shot despite the 40 second recommendation the R&A and USGA laid out in the new rule book issued 1 January 2019.

Ha, ha, ha!

Billy Horschel and Scottie Scheffler took over four hours to play the final of the WGC–Dell Technologies Match Play. And they only played 17 holes!

The beauty of this Masters week is Augusta National has banned the use of green reading books. Shock, horror, players will actually have to judge the speeds and borrows of the greens without the obligatory, lengthy trip to the library that seems to precede nearly every putt on the PGA Tour.

Too bad the PGA Tour doesn’t ban the books too. Or maybe turn the 40 second recommendation into a hard and fast rule to turn the tortoises into hares.

Now there’s a thought.

#JustSaying: “I do apologise that the round took longer. I'm not a fan of slow play and everyone knows I'm not a slow player. I guarantee you that, next time I'm in the final group, I won't be taking as much time.” Billy Horschel

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