Greetings From Los Angeles, Slow Play Edition

greetingsfromLA.jpegWhy try to convey just how royally hosed the late/morning tee times were when I can have Phil Mickelson do it for me:

The early/late tee times had a huge advantage this week. A lot of the times, most of the weeks, it doesn't make too much of a difference but every now and then, there will be an advantage on one wave, and we certainly had that. I mean, all of the scores that are any good, 90 percent of them are from the early/late wave. We avoided wind yesterday morning. It died down this afternoon. Just we got very lucky.
The conditions made late/early starter Fred Couples' -2 performance that much more amazing. And speaking of Freddie, John Strege writes that the two-time winner at Riviera plans to keep coming back as long as they'll have him. Judging by the paltry crowds and the huge proportion following Fred, they'll invite him back until he's using a walker.

Okay, now that we have the pleasantries out of the way, let's talk about slow play and the narcissists who apparently think they are the only golfers on the planet. Namely, Ben Crane and Mike Weir.

Looking for Weir's ball (click to enlarge)
Let's start with Weir, who rudely held back Geoff Ogilvy and Shaun Micheel with all of his twitching and false starts. On the par-5 11th, Weir drives it in the trees and lays up beautifully in the 12-inch kikuyu barranca. He asks the marshal where the ball entered and the volunteer points to where he swore it entered. Well, just as the five minute marked wrapped up, Ogilvy finds the ball about 7 or so yards away. Weir simply turns and scowls at the marshal. Classy touch Mike!

Weir then spends the next 3 minutes considering his options before finally taking an unplayable drop. From that point on the group was a hole behind and eventually put on the clock on No. 13. So Weir picks up the pace right? No, he never seemed to make much of an attempt to speed up as long as I was watching.  He does not ever play ready golf, instead starting his pre-shot research and routine only when it's his turn.

The low point came on No. 15 when Ogilvy asked if he could hit out of turn because Weir was mysteriously lollygagging down the fairway even as they remained on the clock and a hole behind.  230136-1346832-thumbnail.jpg
The warm weather brings out the best in L.A. (click to enlarge)

Then there's Ben Crane, paired with two other slow pokes in Trevor Immelman and Sergio Garcia. After holding up everyone behind him and reportedly having already been put on the club 3(!) times in 36-holes even though there are 24 groups spread over 18 holes (kinda hard to fall a hole behind!), Crane was standing in the TV scrum area outside the scoring room. When one of the players in the group behind him entered the hallway, he saw Crane and looked right at him and said, "Hurry the $@%# up!" Crane didn't hear him (of course).

Later on the locker room the f-bombs were flying like it was sailors night out, with Crane's name flying off the walls of Riviera's locker room.

Now, Golf Digest's Tim Rosaforte asks in a blog post if "144 players too many for a West Coast tour stop -- or are these guys just too slow?"

In talking to the rules staff, they say yes, the field needs to be reduced.

However, I responded with two points.

One, the course has been lengthened and the 10th, 11th and 17th are all reachable now, adding many of the logjams or timely walks that never existed. And two, cutting the field means you'll likely cut the spots that go to local qualifiers who add a unique flavor to the event. So before they go calling for a 132 player field, perhaps a stronger pace of play policy should be tried before ending an important local tradition.