John Senden ended a seven-year trophy drought by winning the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook Golf Club – but the Australian’s victory was almost overshadowed by the ugly issue of slow play rearing its head again.
Senden, whose last victory came in the 2006 John Deere Classic, shot a one-under-par 70 – helped by two birdies in his final three holes – to pip Kevin Na to the title by just one shot.
The victory sealed the 42-year-old Queenslander’s place in the Masters in three weeks’ time and, afterwards, the new champ revealed that the win had proven to him that his previous PGA Tour victory had been no fluke.
He said: "It's something that makes you believe more than you can get it done again, rather than just once and thinking back then in '06, 'Was it a flash in the pan?' I don't believe so. But now it makes me feel (validated) from the John Deere."
However, despite the impressive manner of Senden’s victory, the slow play over the final two rounds just about upstaged him.
On Saturday, Na – a notoriously slow player – was criticised by Brent Henley, the caddie for Robert Garrigus, for his laboriousness.
"People that don't follow golf regularly watch me and say, 'That guy is notorious for slow play." - Kevin Na
“It ain’t fair playing with Kevin Na,” he was overheard to say, adding that Na’s pace got Garrigus – who ultimately finished tied for fourth – out of his rhythm.
Na, though, felt that the criticism of him was unjustified. “I don’t know what people were saying but I don’t feel like I should be criticised for my play today because I’m the first one to admit if I play slow,” he said. “Nut I really didn’t feel like I did.
“People that don’t follow golf regularly watch me and say, ‘That guy is slow.’ First thing is, ‘That guy is notorious for playing slow’.
“Just because you have that mindset and, on one hole, they’re watching TV and the wind swirls and I back off. ‘There you go. What did I tell you guys? He’s slow.’”
After his final round, Na also pointed out that, rather than being the one holding up play, he was the one being held up.
“I hope people talked about every hole I was waiting,” he said. “If they didn't talk about that, I don't know what to tell you.”
Slow play: Golf’s biggest problem?
Is slow play the biggest problem facing golf today? How would you deal with it? Leave your thoughts in our ‘Comments’ section below.