Matt Fitzpatrick podcast: PGA Tour pace of play ‘slow as ever’

Matt Fitzpatrick believes not enough is being done to combat slow play in golf and feels no progress has been made to solve the problem on the PGA Tour.

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Fitzpatrick has previously spoken out about slow play and called for tougher penalties to be issued when speaking to Sky Sports last September, with the Englishman unconvinced that any progress has been made in recent months.

The PGA Tour announced “major enhancements” to its regulations in January to try and improve the situation, which were due to be introduced from next month following a three-month education period for the players.

Fitzpatrick was unable to complete his opening round at The Players earlier this month – which was later cancelled – before play was suspended due to darkness, with the five-time European Tour player far from impressed with the slow play situation.

“In all seriousness, in Europe I’ve seen it definitely (improve) this year,” Fitzpatrick told the Sky Sports Golf podcast. “On the PGA Tour it’s just as slow as ever. It’s shocking, it really is dreadful.

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“We teed off at 2.35pm at The Players and there was another group behind us and there was no chance (of getting done). I should’ve stopped earlier because I had a 60-footer and I should’ve stopped then, so at least 10 minutes before.

“It should never get to that stage. It’s threeballs and you should be easily round. For me, the US officials – and my caddie Billy Foster is of the same agreement – they’re not as pushy as the European officials, they’re not ‘on it’ as much.

“I don’t know if these slow players are just really selfish and not very nice people, but if someone came up to me and said ‘listen, you’re going to be penalised if you don’t speed up’ then I’m going to speed up, it’s as simple as that.”

Fitzpatrick went on to give an example of a particularly bad culprit during The Open at Royal Portrush, who could easily be identified as Andrew Putnam, with the Englishman far from impressed that the player wasn’t punished for his pace of play.

“I think they (slow players) are oblivious and are just in their own little world,” Fitzpatrick added. “I played with someone in The Open last year with Padraig Harrington and we were both pulling our hair out, because it was just embarrassing.

“Every group at The Open has a walking referee and I said to him ‘I’ve just timed him there and it’s taken one minute 30’ and he just nodded his head and said ‘he has averaged one minute 15 all day’.

“I was thinking to myself, ‘if he’s averaging 1minute 15 then why is nobody penalising him’?! It was driving me insane, it was ridiculous. It was just selfish that this player in particular didn’t start getting ready until it was his turn. You’ve got all this time. You can figure it out, it’s really not hard!”

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March 29, 2020, 11:00am

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As well as talking about slow play, Fitzpatrick shared details of how he was dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and gave his thoughts about Sheffield United’s remarkable Premier League season.

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