Other than Patrick Reed’s victory, the biggest story to come from last week’s Northern Trust involved pace of play. And once again, Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka were at the center of the drama.
DeChambeau, an unconventional player who has been criticized in the past for slow play, had two instances in the second round that drew the ire from fans and fellow golfers. One of those instances was a putt where DeChambeau was seen on video taking well over two minutes for his putting attempt.
Koepka, who made comments at last month’s Open Championship about round partner J.B. Holmes’ slow pace, was displeased with DeChambeau. The four-time major champion even had a conversation with DeChambeau on the putting green before the final round of the tournament began.
Changing His Ways?
After initially defending his actions, it looks like the backlash and conversation with Koepka have influenced DeChambeau. The 25-year-old golfer, nicknamed “The Professor,” vowed to improve his pace of play on a recent Instagram post.
“I’m constantly trying to improve and will do my very best to improve my pace,” DeChambeau wrote in his post. “Golf is my passion, my livelihood. It’s my responsibility to help improve the game to be more enjoyable for all.”
Under the PGA Tour’s current policy, a “shot clock” is only enforced if a group falls a hole behind the group in front of them. If that happens, players will have between 40 and 50 seconds to hit their ball.
Failure to abide by that rule results in a warning the first time and a one-stroke penalty the second time, with the shot clock in play until the group is no longer out of position. However, it is rarely enforced, as both instances of DeChambeau’s slow play last week were not timed.
With all that said, the Tour did announce after the Northern Trust that it will review this policy further and consider penalizing players for slow play when their group is not out of position. This year, DeChambeau has only been issued one warning, meaning he has never received any penalty strokes or fines.
This will certainly be a storyline to watch this week at the BMW Championship. In a smaller field (70 players), time may be less of an issue, but don’t be surprised if you see players making sure they’re playing at a reasonable pace. Both DeChambeau and Koepka will be among those playing in the second FedEx Cup playoff event.