PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Rory McIlroy is one of the fastest players on the PGA Tour, which makes the issue of slow play out here all the more befuddling. If playing fast works for McIlroy, who has only won four majors and amassed more than $43 million in career earnings, why can't everybody else follow suit and pick up the pace?
The always-outspoken Northern Irishman feels the same way, and he said as much on Friday night at TPC Sawgrass. McIlroy carded a second-round, seven-under 65, putting him in a tie for the lead with Tommy Fleetwood at 12 under. And he did it in his usual fashion: swiftly. Yet even his round took well north of five hours to finish.
Somehow, the entire field was able to get in the second round before darkness, but the same can't be said for the first round. Play was suspended on Thursday due to darkness with just one player left on the course, Anirban Lahiri, who had to return in the morning to finish off a three-footer for par at the 18th hole. That situation, plus the glacial pace of play on Friday, drew the ire of McIlroy, who was asked by the AP's Doug Ferguson why he thinks it's been so slow the last two days.
"Because they don't do anything about it,"McIlroy said. "It's become somewhat of an epidemic on tour. Look, it's our livelihoods, and people are going to take their time, and as the course dries up and gets firmer and gets tougher, guys are going to take their time, but the fact that someone didn't finish yesterday, just being through daylight savings and the tee times and someone had to come out today because there wasn't enough light to finish, I mean, that's unacceptable. What time is it right now, 7:35? Yeah, so, this is five hours, 40 [minutes] after our tee time. I get that it can take five hours to play out there, but it shouldn't take any over that."
McIlroy is not the first marquee player to take his fellow competitors to task. In late January, Brooks Koepka sounded off on the same issue on the Golf Monthly podcast after a video of Bryson DeChambeau's deliberate pre-shot routine at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic drew criticism on social media. Just a few weeks later, J.B. Holmes caught plenty of heat for his pace of play at the Genesis Open, which unfortunately became the story rather than his comeback victory. Earlier that same week, Adam Scott offered his solution, saying he'd take a slow-play penalty if that's what it took to fix the issue.
"Honestly, I think they should just being a little tougher and start penalizing shots earlier, and that would be an easy way to fix it."