Posted on 22nd Jul 2019
It's the personal crusade that some golf watchers believe is doing more for Brooks Koepka's popularity than his four major wins.
The American superstar was paired with compatriot JB Holmes for the final round of the British Open and afterwards scolded him for slow play - just his latest attack on golf's most despised flaw. It was salt in the wound for Holmes after he dropped nearly $1 million in prizemoney in a shocking implosion.
“I just always play, I’m ready to go most of the time,” Koepka said, after a round where his frustration at Holmes came out on several occasions.
“That’s what I don’t understand, when it’s your turn to hit, your glove is not on, then you start thinking about it, that’s where the problem lies.
“It’s not that he takes that long. He doesn’t do anything until his turn. That’s the frustrating part. But he’s not the only one that does it out here.”
In a backhanded critique, Koepka said that Holmes wasn't especially slow during the round by his sluggish standards.
“It was slow, but it wasn't that bad for his usual pace. I thought it was relatively quick for what he usually does,” Koepka said.
By golf's polite standards, where pros are loathe to criticise one another, it was a strong whack. On the 12th hole, Koepka walked off the green, stared down an Open official and tapped his wrist, as though pointing to a watch.
Holmes' nightmare round undoubtedly contributed to his slow play. The American shot a 16-over 87 to drop from third at the start of the round to fourth-last of those who made the cut, on six-over.
It was an extraordinary fade-out that saw Holmes drop from $US718,000 ($1.02 million) in potential prizemoney to paltry winnings of $US25,650 ($36,440) - a loss of $US692,350 ($983,685) in one disastrous round of golf.
“JB had a rough day. JB is a slow player,” Koepka said.
“I know it’s difficult with the wind, but I didn’t think he was that bad today. There were some times where I thought it was slow, but there are a lot of slow guys out here.
“It's not the first time I've done it (alerted an official), especially when you've got a walking official with you.
“We were on pace for 13 holes. But I mean, if I'm in a group, we're going to be on pace no matter what. I'm usually ready to go, as soon as the guy's ball is coming down.”
Holmes was slow from the first tee. While Koepka took some 25 seconds to hit his shot after being announced to the crowd, Holmes took about a minute; exceeding the allowed 40 seconds.
Holmes took 10 practice swings and addressed his ball twice before backing away. He then hit his ball out of bounds and changed his club choice for his second attempt from the tee, en route to a double bogey. He also took nearly a minute on the second shot from the tee box.
“He had to have known what club he was going to hit for 23 hours,” said bemused NBC commentator Paul Azinger, who captained Holmes in USA's 2008 Ryder Cup win.
At the start of the year, Koepka accused golf officialdom of not having the "balls" to penalise slow play and called the problem "embarrassing". His comments came amid scrutiny of another renowned slow player, Bryson DeChambeau.
“I think it’s weird how we have rules where we have to make sure it’s dropping from knee height or the caddie can’t be behind you, and then they also have a rule where you have to hit it in 40 seconds but that one’s not enforced,” he told Sirius XM radio.
“You enforce some but you don’t enforce the others. They breaking the rules but no one ever has the balls to actually penalise them."
In another interview with Golf Monthly, Koepka said in reference to DeChambeau: “I just don’t understand how it takes a minute and 20 seconds, a minute and 15 seconds to hit a golf ball. It’s not that hard.
“It’s always between two clubs. There’s a miss short, there’s a miss long. It really drives me nuts, especially when it’s a long hitter because you know you’ve got two other guys, or at least one guy that’s hitting before you, so you can do all your calculations. You should have your numbers.
“If it’s a calm day, there’s no excuse. Guys are already so slow, it’s kind of embarrassing. I just don’t get why you enforce some things and don’t enforce others.”
Koepka had a poor round himself to conclude the Open, bogeying the first four holes on his way to a three-over 74; which left him tied for fourth. Yet he maintained his pace and was visibly frustrated with Holmes.
Koepka said that the European Tour was doing a far better job tackling the slow play scourge than the US PGA Tour.
"The European Tour does an unbelievable job with the pace of play, posting it in the locker rooms. The PGA doesn't do that," he said.
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