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Brett Rumford: PGA Tour pros lack slow play awareness

Brett Rumford Main

Event: ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth
Date: February 8-11
Location: Lake Karrinyup CC, Perth, Australia
TV: Sky Sports Golf – Thu, Fri & Sat: 5am-9am; Sun: 4am-9am

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Brett Rumford thinks PGA Tour pros have a different attitude towards slow play than their European Tour counterparts because the fines are so small in comparison to prize money on the line.

The Aussie, who is the defending champion at this week’s ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth, has experienced first-hand the difference in pace of play across golf’s major tours, playing regularly on the Asian Tour and PGA Tour of Australasia as well as spending close to 20 years on the European Tour.

He also spent a full season on the PGA Tour back in 2008 and, given the PGA Tour has only dished out one slow play penalty in the last 20 years despite round times continuing to rise, he is of the opinion that golf's two main tours are poles apart in how the deal with the problem.

Brett Rumford

“Pace of play is something players [in Europe] are very aware of and are continuously trying to improve on,” he told bunkered.co.uk. “I just don’t think they have that awareness in America.

“If they fall behind a hole, I don’t think players are proactive and thinking, ‘Shit, we’re a hole behind, we need to speed up here’.

“In Europe, because it’s monitored so closely, it just takes half a hole before you’re timed. There are big penalties too – thousands of pounds that start to accumulate very quickly through getting bad times.”

Referring to the J.B. Holmes (below) situation at the Farmers Insurance Open, where the American was castigated for taking four minutes and ten seconds to play a shot while Alex Noren - predominantly a European Tour - was left waiting.

Read more - J.B. Holmes 'shocked' at reaction to slow play storm

Jbholmes

"That was a classic example - a European player playing in America," he continued. "He’s in the routine of playing at a reasonably fast pace and when you’re out of it and waiting around, it’s quite off-putting. What happened there was just a classic case and point."

While monetary fines do have an effect for the vast majority of European Tour players, Rumford believes that due to the sheer amount of money on the line on the PGA Tour, stroke penalties may be the only deterrent.

“On the European Tour, we’ve spoken about how to deal with slow play in terms of penalties and maybe that’s something America just hasn’t got correct yet because there’s so much money there,” he added.

“I’m not saying this is the case but if fines are $2,500-$5,000, the plus-minus gained scenario when they could earn $1m lends itself to players taking their time.

Read more - Justin Thomas has Holmes' back in slow play storm

Brett Rumford1

“Maybe shot penalties can be brought in in America. I don’t know what the scenario is where the wages are so high that they don’t care about the fine. But in Europe, it’s taken more seriously.

“I’m a fan of the stroke penalty because you can actually lose a tournament through strokes. I’d rather that than it be a monetary fine – or both would be even better.”

Rumford's victory at Lake Karrinyup last year in the unique event, which combines strokeplay and matchplay, came less than two years after major surgery to remove a blockage in his stomach and three months after losing his full European Tour playing rights.

It's little wonder, then, that the 40-year-old refers to his triumph as the most important of his six European Tour wins.

"The surgery - it affected me massively, hugely," added the Aussie, who spent 15 days in a South African hospital. "Behind closed doors, not one knows what I went through. Very few people understand the complications of having your abdominal wall cut into.

"It's your stability, strength, coordination - everything. My whole swing DNA was cut to pieces. At times, I thought I was never going to get back to playing the golf that I'd played in the past.

"So there was so much pressure - it was securing the win to get my card back," he added. "If I hadn't won that event, I was in a predicament with not having a tour to play on. So it was 100% the most important - after the surgery, the tour card on the line and also playing in front of a home crowd."

World Super6 Perth

About World Super 6 Perth

The innovative tournament is the only event in European Tour history which has featured a combination of matchplay and strokeplay. 

For the first 36 holes, 156 players will compete, with the top 65 and ties progressing after a cut. A further cut after round three will see the field size reduced to 24, with a sudden-death play-off taking place if required to reach this number. 

The fourth and final round is a six-hole matchplay knockout format – the 24 players are eventually reduced down to two, from which the winner will be decided.

The big names in the field include Danny Willett, Lee Westwood, Thorbjorn Olesen and Andrew 'Beef' Johnston, who was a late replacement for the injured Tyrrell Hatton.

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