Sky analyst Robert Lee, who also is a member of the European Tour Board of Directors, was involved in a lengthy conversation with chief referee, Andy McFee after the match on the time McDowell and Thongchai Jaidee were taking to play the 17 holes before McDowell won, 2&1.
After his second victory in three tournaments, McDowell said he noticed 43-year-old Jaidee was beginning to tire mid-round, and the former US Open champion seized on this and deliberately slowed the match.
McDowell was observed going to such lengths as spending time referring to his yardage book while on the greens. McFee walked all 17 holes in the players’ company wearing a shirt and tie with a European Tour logo.
While Lee argued it was taking McDowell a seemingly long amount of time to play his shots, McFee revealed when McDowell secured success, it had taken the pair three hours and 57 minutes to play the 17 holes.
“That was three minutes under the allocated time for 17 holes,” he said.
There’s no questioning McDowell played well within in the rules, and also within the timeframe permitted for each and every one of his shots,.
McFee indicated that, since 1987, just 23 players have been penalised and/or fined for slow play on the European Tour, including young 14-year Tialang Guan who was docked two strokes in last month’s Masters. In contrast on the regular PGA Tour, where slow play seems the norm, not one player was penalised or fined in the near 26-year similar period.
While Jaidee looked tired, McDowell walked off from his 99 holes looking fresh. “I’ve kind of reanalysed a few fitness things the last three or four week, strengthening my legs back up a bit and getting them a little more powerful,” said McDowell.
“It’s a work in progress and gives me a lot of encouragement to feel as good as I did last weekend.
“I had missed the cut at Augusta but I have no doubt in my mind that allowed me to go and win at Hilton Head because I was better prepared. I was mentally and physically more prepared. But I am not going to call myself a Rory McIlroy in the game, but it’s something I’ve got an eye on and trying to get better.”
McDowell’s fitness will certainly be tested at this week’s flagship BMW PGA Championship, and on a ‘Burma Road’ course where he’s missed the cut in past two appearances.
Shane Lowry is facing a tough two weeks having been afforded an invitation to contest next week’s Jack Nicklaus-hosted Memorial event in Ohio.
However sandwiched between appearances at Wentworth and Muirfield Village is next Monday’s 36-hole US Open qualifier at Walton Heath.
“It’s been good season for me invitation-wise and this is will be my fifth invitation to compete on the PGA Tour,” said Lowry.
Lowry will travel to the US in the company of good friend, Dara Lernihan, the club pro at Elm Park in Dublin and also a former Irish Close Amateur champion and GB & I Walker Cup squad member.