Brooks Koepka, when asked about slow play, had 1 immediate solution
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Brooks Koepka was reactive. And proactive.
It was his comments at last month’s Masters, remember, that brought a long-simmering issue back to the front burner. Playing in the final group with eventual winner Jon Rahm during Sunday’s final round at Augusta National, the pace of play was — well, we’ll let Koepka describe things.
“You’re a pretty fast player, as we know. Curious your thoughts on pace of play this afternoon?”
“Yeah, the group in front of us was brutally slow. Jon went to the bathroom like seven times during the round, and we were still waiting.”
And a mild firestorm ensued, though the problem of slow play has been around since pegs first went into turf. Ahead of Rahm and Koepka that day were Patrick Cantlay and Viktor Hovland, and Cantlay took the brunt of the blows. And complaining can be therapeutic.
But what about a fix? That’s the best medicine.
And Koepka had a thought. The slow play conversation had been re-raised Wednesday during the pre-PGA Championship press conference for the four-time major winner who now plays his golf for LIV Golf.
“You’re not on the PGA Tour anymore, so now you can talk openly about how bad the slow play is. How big a problem is it? How would you fix it?”
“I mean, yeah, it’s never quick,” he said. “I was talking about it when I was on the PGA Tour, too, so I’m not afraid to talk about it.”
“You don’t have to worry about getting fined anymore.”
“I never was fined for anything, so I’m all right,” Koepka said. “Yeah, there’s a lot of guys out here that take their time. I think it is a problem. Technically in the rule book it says you have 40 seconds to hit your shot. I think that’s what it is. If you are taking over, technically you’re breaking the rules, right? So, I don’t know.”
But what’s Koepka’s fix? Let’s be proactive, right?
He was, no pun intended, quick to answer.
“Honestly, I would start stroking guys. If you are going to take that long, you have to get stroked. There are certain circumstances where the wind switches, something like that, it’s understandable, but taking a while is, I just think, unnecessary.”
Notably, the PGA Tour has a pace of play policy, which was updated in 2020, though its monetary fines are kept hush-hush and stroke punishments are rare. As for the Rules of Golf, Rule 5.6b offers this: “It is recommended that you make the stroke in no more than 40 seconds after you are (or should be) able to play without interference or distraction.”
So while Koepka’s idea isn’t new, his call for beefier enforcement is a strong one. Later in the press conference, a reporter asked about Major League Baseball’s new shot clock — and whether speedier play, when done right, makes sports “much better.”
Notably here, and Koepka referenced it, the now-named DP World Tour gave it a go in 2018 at the aptly named Shot Clock Masters. At that event, four players were hit with penalties for being over a 40-second shot clock.
“Technically I think you saw DP, they did a shot clock event,” Koepka said. “I think it was a couple of years ago, if I’m right. I can’t remember if anybody got clocked for it, but it would be interesting to see. I know if you follow guys around with a stopwatch this week, there will be plenty of guys that are over time and stuff like that, but I can’t remember the last time anybody was stroked. …
“There are some guys that probably definitely could be stroked.”