The painfully deliberate pre-shot routine of Kevin Na at The Players Championship earlier this month resulted in heckling from impatient fans in the gallery, and created plenty of conversation among those who would like to see the PGA Tour get tougher on slow play.
Asked about slow play Monday at a press conference during AT&T National media day, Tiger Woods said he recalled the same issue at the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage, where he was paired in the final round with Sergio Garcia. Garcia was hounded by many fans for re-gripping the club as many as 30 times before starting his backswing.
“The fans were kind of on him a little bit at times, telling him to expedite a golf shot,” Woods said with a chuckle.
“You don’t even pay attention to it. I knew Sergio was struggling with that part of his game, and so be it. So other guys are playing slow. You just play your own game and go about your own business.”
Woods said that as “the figureheads of our sport,” it is imperative that PGA Tour players set the example on faster play. But he added that he doesn’t see the tour taking some steps to speed up play any time soon, noting that rule changes have to be examined by the Players Advisory Council and then the PGA Tour Policy Board.
“It’s going to take some time,” he said. “Do I see that happening this year? Obviously, no. But down the road, I certainly could see there could be some type of adaptation somewhere. There’s got to be some type of change. Where that change is, we’ll find out.”
At the time of his press conference, Woods said he was not familiar with the slow-play penalty assessed against Morgan Pressel in Sunday’s semifinals of the LPGA’s Sybase Match Play Championship. After her match against Azahara Munoz was put on the clock, Pressel was ruled to have taken too much time to play the 12th hole, resulting in the loss of a hole that she had actually won.
Munoz eventually won the match, and captured the championship with a victory over Candie Kung that afternoon.
“It’s unfortunate that it happened to her,” Woods said. “But that’s unfortunately part of the game.”