Bryson DeChambeau has promised to quicken his pace of play after becoming the subject of furious criticism over a video of his painstaking approach to an eight-foot putt. On a day when the PGA Tour announced that it would implement a tougher policy on slow play, golf’s world No 8, nicknamed the “mad scientist” for his forensic analysis of every shot, said that he was “committed to being part of the solution, not the problem”.
Disconcerted by the backlash to his snail-like antics at the Northern Trust, prompting Eddie Pepperell to call him a “single-minded twit” – a remark for which the Englishman later apologised – DeChambeau acknowledged that he needed to speed up. “Slow play affects the quality of the game for both players and our fans,” the 25-year-old wrote on Instagram. “I’m constantly trying to improve, and I will do my very best to improve my pace. Golf is my passion and livelihood. It’s my responsibility to make the game be more enjoyable for all. I’m looking forward to working with the tour and fellow players to find a solution to slow play.”
His tone was far more measured and diplomatic than during the New Jersey tournament, when he had described the criticisms of his pace as a “bunch of you-know-what”. But the sheer scale of the reaction to footage of his conduct at Liberty National, where he had taken 3½ times the allotted 40-second limit to hit a short putt, brought a change of heart.
The PGA Tour, after years of resisting any sanction of dithering players for fear of embarrassing them, also made a rare concession to public opinion on Monday by agreeing to review its policy. “We are now exploring whether to expand the policy to address those whose groups are in position, but who take an excessive amount of time to hit a shot,” it said in a statement.
Seems my comment regarding Bryson’s slow play has garnered plenty of attention and I just want to sincerely apologise to Bryson for being personal and referring to him as a ‘twit’. That was unnecessary and something I shouldn’t have said. ����♂️
— Eddie Pepperell (@PepperellEddie) August 12, 2019
Examples of slow play are legion on the tour, but it was only when DeChambeau’s absurdly prolonged set-up routine went viral on social media that the tour decided a tipping point had been reached. Tyler Dennis, the tour’s chief of operations, explained that ShotLink, a shot-tracking application, would be used to monitor every group, so that rules officials could respond more rapidly.
“We know that the individual habits of players when they are preparing to hit a shot can quickly become a focal point in today’s world,” he said. “Our players and fans are very passionate about this issue. We are asking ourselves, ‘Is there a better way to do it?’ Technology plays a key role.”