JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Good news, golf fans. Justin Rose agrees that the pace of play on the PGA Tour is quite slow. Bad news, golf fans. He doesn't believe it could be that much faster, no matter what's done to combat it.
After a two-under-par 69 on Saturday at Liberty National, the Englishman was asked specifically if slow play is more of a problem on the PGA Tour than it is on the European Tour. Late on Friday night, Bryson DeChambeau was the subject of golf Twitter's ire when a pair of videos of DeChambeau being very deliberate with an approach shot and a putt went viral. In the first video, which lasted more than two minutes, DeChambeau could be seen pacing off a 70-yard shot, and the video cut out at the two-minute and 20-second mark before he hit the shot. When he arrived at the green, he took another full two minutes and 20 seconds to hit a 10-foot putt, which he missed. That video got more than one million views on Twitter, and caused many of DeChambeau's fellow pros to speak out on his slowness.
Rose, who also could be characterized as a deliberate player, says there are a lot more factors when it comes to slow play that people aren't taking into account.
"You know, the crowds are a lot bigger here and a lot more, you know, vocal, and there's a lot more movement and distraction," he said. "I think which obviously creates the atmosphere that we want to play in front of. You can't have it both ways. You can't have it fun and rowdy out here and yet expect guys to hit shots on a clock through situations where the environment isn't ready for them to play."
Rose's sentiment has some merit, particularly on Saturday at the Northern Trust, a day that featured some heavy wind gusts and more than a few, um, "vocal" fans. Yet even he could admit that some players go a bit overboard.
"Of course, listen, we can all be criticized for being too deliberate at times. On a day like today, though, it's very tough if you are on the clock because there are moments where you have to back off a golf shot because ... we all can feel it. You stand over the ball, you feel the wind change, and the decision you've just made is no longer now relevant.
"So unless you back away, you're guessing, and obviously we all train and practice hard enough to try not to guess on our shots."
The solution many believe would solve the pace-of-play problem is penalizing those who go over the 40 seconds allowed under the rules. Rose says that even if they were to enforce that rule, it wouldn't make that big of a difference.
"It's a very fine line. But if we change all the rules in golf to make it as fast as we could, I think we'll save 10 minutes. It becomes kind of like traffic, like trying to drive out of New York City and be here in 20 minutes—it's perfect at 5 a.m. when there's 20 cars on the road. But you put a full field out there, and you're just going to run into trouble.
"It's a bit of both. We are at fault, for sure, but I think also, what's the best-case scenario? Ten, 15 minutes. ... Is it worth it? I don't know."