Brooks Koepka wastes little time extricating himself from a bunker Thursday at the Masters. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton

First-round Masters leaders also take lead on both sides of slow-play issue

Bryson DeChambeau, the other first-round co-leader of the Masters, is a human science project on the course. Numbers and coefficients dance in his head, and as such he is one of the presumed culprits for slowing play out there on the pro greensward. 

Don’t you want to get these guys together sometime over the weekend and watch one push while the other pulls as both are trying to win their first Masters? 

Who wouldn’t welcome a little tension in a sport and a setting that seems to breed only camaraderie and fraternity? Pro golfers are all passengers on the same luxury cruise, and nobody wants to rock it while they’re all warm and dry and up to their elbows in crab legs. But every sport is a little better with some good old-fashioned friction. 

Just imagine: Somewhere on the back nine Sunday, Koepka just snaps and blurts out, “C’mon, while we’re young,” while DeChambeau is working out the air density and the terminal velocity in his head before hitting a 25-foot putt. 

After winning his second and third career majors last year, Koepka decided he was going to be a little more outspoken. And the issue he took on, during a January radio interview, was slow play. 

And it was reported that his words were aimed right at Mr. Science, DeChambeau.

“It is frustrating,” he said at the time. “There's a lot of slow players, a lot of them are kind of the very good players, too, which is kind of the problem.

“I think it's weird how we have rules where we have to make sure it's dropping from knee height or the caddie can't be behind you and then they also have a rule where you have to hit it in 40 seconds, but that one's not enforced. You enforce some, but you don't enforce the others.

“(Slow players are) breaking the rules, but no one ever has the (fortitude) to actually penalize them.”

I can hear the bravos, still. We like our golfers like we like our pitchers and our bartenders: quick and decisive.

DeChambeau, of course, has a very well thought-out explanation. 

Sure, his pre-shot routine can be tedious. (Don’t know exactly what goes on inside his head, but I think if you listen closely enough you can hear a combination of clacking pocket calculators and calliope music).

But DeChambeau brings other factors into play, as he was explaining just this week.

“The one piece of information that a lot of people miss is the walk to the ball,” he really said. “There's a three‑minute walk, 2-1/2 minute walk that people don't take into account. You can gain a lot more time by walking 15 seconds quicker to the ball than you can by five seconds over a shot. 

“People don't take that into account when we talk about slow play. I may be a guy that hits it up there farther than someone, and they are taking their merry time getting to their golf ball and it's behind me and I'm already up there and I can't get any of my numbers because I'm right in their line of sight. 

“Once they do their whole process that takes maybe 25 seconds compared to my 35‑second to 40‑second preparation to hit the shot. By the time we walk back over and get the number, do all that, you can view me as a slow player.

“In the end I look at it from another standpoint saying there's a whole other piece to this puzzle that we are not looking at yet.”

OK, we’ll give you your lively gait.

But just hit the ball, already.

We just have to get these two together and have them play out their differences in full public view with a Masters on the line.

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About the Author

Steve Hummer
Steve Hummer
Steve Hummer writes sports features for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He covers a wide range of sports and topics.
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