Monday, April 26

MORNING READ: 'Only Little Guys Get Slapped for Slow Play' on PGA Tour

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AT HARBOUR TOWN SI WOO KIM waited a minute or so to see if his 15-foot birdie putt would fall into the hole on the 2nd green. It hung on the edge. The hesitating putt did finally drop.

But the PGA Tour didn't hesitate at all. It penalized Kim a stroke for violation of Rule 13.3a.

Veteran golf scribe John Hawkins wrote about the incident at MORNING READ, as well as the larger issue of how the PGA Tour polices (but mostly doesn't police) slow play.

From Kim's playing partner, Hawkins added:

"It definitely exceeded time," fellow competitor Matt Kuchar explained, "but as I go up there [to the hole], I go, 'This ball is moving.' You could tell it was moving. You can't hit a moving ball, correct?"

Hawkins wondered about "Kim's marvelous birdie turned back into a par."

He wrote, "Would a rules official have taken the same action if Tiger Woods had been the offender? Hmmm."

We probably know the answer to that one.

There is a glaring inconsistency to the Kim penalty that warrants further review. Justin Thomas took more than three minutes to hit his tee shot at Sherwood Country Club’s par-3 15th at the Zozo Championship last fall. J.B. Holmes needs 90 seconds just to put on his glove. The big names and tour veterans get a free pass when it comes to pace of play. Kim takes a minute and change on a Saturday, gets the happy ending he was waiting for – and the Camp Ponte Vedra police decide to enforce an ambiguous rule because a ball is declared to be "at rest" when it obviously wasn't?

It's enough to leave you thinking a pro golfer has been made into an example. Kim is from South Korea, who at age 21 in 2017 was the youngest man ever to win the Players Championship, although he recently acquired a huge new batch of fame for busting his putter earlier this month at the Masters. He is not a star, at least in this country, and when you process the fact that Tour referees have called a grand total of two actual slow-play penalties since 1995, the sudden call to action during the third round at Harbour Town smells a lot like a dumpster in Jersey City. 


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