Slow play rules hit home on European Tour

Chief executive Keith Pelley has hailed the European Tour’s new pace of play policy a success after rounds during the recent ‘Desert Swing’ were completed up to 19 minutes quicker.

Effective from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in January, players were subjected to sustained monitoring as soon as a group was seen to be out of position on course.

Any player who then exceeded the time allowed for a shot — 50 seconds if first to play and 40 seconds thereafter — was issued a “monitoring penalty”, with world No.1 Jordan Spieth the first recipient in his opening round in Abu Dhabi.

A total of 95 groups were monitored in the Middle East — 36 in Abu Dhabi, 20 in Qatar and 39 in Dubai — with Spieth, Daniel Brooks, Benjamin Hebert, Eddie Pepperell, and Gavin Green the players penalised. Further transgressions this season will result in a €2,500 fine, with fines increasing for each subsequent monitoring penalty.

“We said before our new measures were introduced in Abu Dhabi that we wanted to take the lead on pace of play and it is terrific to see the policy has had an immediate effect, even though we are still in the early stages of its implementation,” Pelley said.

According to data collected by the European Tour during the first two rounds, the average round time in Abu Dhabi was reduced by five minutes compared to last year.

In Qatar, average times for rounds one and two were 10 and four minutes quicker compared with 2012, the last time the event was played in comparably windy conditions. In Dubai, average times were just two minutes quicker, although the last groups were 13 minutes quicker on average.


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