Lengthy putting routine at U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship triggers slow-play debate
To be fair, it was an important putt.
Playing in the final of the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship last weekend, Jillian Bourdage, 17, found herself facing a roughly three-foot putt on the 31st hole of the match at SentryWorld in Stevens Point, Wis. The putt was for a halve and would keep Bourdage just 1-down against her opponent, 18-year-old Lei Ye of China, with five holes to play. Bourdage would hole the putt, but it’s the time that it took her to do so that had golf fans buzzing when video of the sequence started to make the rounds on Monday.
Ten seconds passed as Bourdage began sizing up the putt. Then 30. Then a full minute.
“Bourdage does not hit these putts until she is 100 percent comfortable and ready,” Fox Sports play-by-play man Shane Bacon said on the broadcast.
“It’s a process,” added Fox analyst Juli Inkster.
In all, about 90 seconds transpired before Bourdage finally stepped up and knocked the ball in the hole.
“You don’t wanna take that much time and then miss them,” Inkster said after the ball dropped. “At least she’s making them.”
Ye would go on to win the match, 1 up, on the 36th hole, but it was Bourdage’s putting routine on the 31st hole that triggered a heated debate on social media. Watch how it all unfolds here:
friend just sent me this from the US Girls Junior… Trickle down effects of slow play on a 3 foot comebacker pic.twitter.com/trYC2vZZIo
— Brendan Porath (@BrendanPorath) July 30, 2019
Slow play is always a hot-button topic, but the exceptional length of time that it took Bourdage to assess such a short and seemingly straightforward putt hit a particularly sharp nerve on Twitter. On Tuesday afternoon, video of the clip posted by SB Nation writer Brendan Porath, had garnered nearly 200,000 views and nearly 300 replies. Some commenters, including Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, cautioned against placing too much blame on Bourdage…
I believe it was Bobby Jones who said something along the lines of tournament golf being as different from recreational golf as night is different from day. Don’t judge too harshly the young golfer who has not yet learned the right balance of being careful and being carefree. https://t.co/ec2h98NRfv
— Brandel Chamblee (@chambleebrandel) July 30, 2019
Well spoken from someone who hasn’t just watched, but has also been in that moment many times. All these couch potatoes are so quick to judge.. it’s junior golf and she had to halve the match. #relax
— MDJ (@DeJorno375) July 30, 2019
Most comments I’ve seen had the same reaction I did: the people around her and the officials need scrutiny more than her. She may not be aware at this point in her career how slow she is.
— Geoff Shackelford (@GeoffShac) July 30, 2019
At this age, this is mostly not her fault. It is “golf’s” fault. It is the fault of coaches, tournaments, governing bodies and her support system for saying it is ok, and allowing it to happen… repeatedly. It is time for a shot clock.
— The StoryLounge Film Co. (@TheTsl) July 30, 2019
But the vast majority of commenters were far less sympathetic, with some alleging that the prolonged prep time between putts was unfair to Bourdage’s opponent.
Man that’s a painful watch.
— Eddie Pepperell (@PepperellEddie) July 30, 2019
Junior golf associations should make players sit down and watch the #WGCFedEx final round shots of Rory and Brooks. That's how golf is played.
— My Name Is Earl (@TheBossman102) July 30, 2019
If you're taking that long I begin cheering for you to miss it
— ch (@chaytenn) July 30, 2019
I take that long on a 3 footer… But it's to give my buddies extra time to decide to tell me "that's good!"
— Brown Eye (@ASowers10) July 30, 2019
🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬 seriously …. how long into hit a putt, would have been interested to see how long the other one took lol 🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬
— Steven Shipley (@ShippersGolf) July 30, 2019
That's a brutal watch.
— Bryce Ritchie (@Bryce_bunkered) July 30, 2019
This is disgraceful, where are the officials?, if a Jr. are taking this long to hit a 3ft putt the knock on effect when u move to Sr. is a multiple…slow play in golf is one of main reasons the sport will never be mainstream & always perceived as elite,& for the privileged
— Deiseman (@DeiseALLIre59) July 30, 2019
Earlier this year the USGA introduced a new rule that encourages a prompt pace of play. Rule 5.6 states that “players should recognize that their pace of play affects others and they should play promptly throughout the round (such as by preparing in advance for each stroke and moving promptly between strokes and in going to the next tee).”
The rule also states that “a player should make a stroke in no more than 40 seconds (and usually in less time) after the player is able to play without interference or distraction.”
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