Edoardo Molinari: Why Italian was right to call time on slowcoaches

0
58
Edoardo Molinari: Why Italian was right to call time on slowcoaches
Edoardo Molinari on the march at the recent Trophee Hassan II event in Morocco

As exposes go, the revelation that professional golfers have been caught playing slowly is not exactly the stuff of Watergate.

However, Edoardo Molinari’s Twitter feed has done the game a favour and broken an omerta that so frequently envelops a sport traditionally loath to name and shame.

Commendably, the brother of Open champion Francesco has called time on the slowcoaches.

And, by revealing names, he has taken a significant step beyond what the authorities have done in dealing with them.

You would need some heavy-duty mining equipment to plough through all that has been shoved under golf’s carpet down the years.

Run by tours that exist for their members, there has always been an imperative to protect the players.

The most extreme example was the career of John Daly. Golf’s “wild thing” picked up five bans and more than $100,000 (£77,350) in fines, but it took a separate court case to make his disciplinary files public.

Had the player tried to sue an American newspaper over an article published in 2005, we would never have known the extent of the game’s most colourful and extensive rap sheet.

More recently, it took a change in the rules to compel the PGA Tour to tell us about this year’s three-month ban imposed on Robert Garrigus for taking marijuana.

Previously, only punishments for using performance-enhancing substances, rather than recreational drugs, would have been revealed.

Remember how in 2014 Dustin Johnson took “a leave of absence” to address “personal challenges”? At no point did the PGA Tour say he had been officially banned, but his time away from the game lasted precisely six months.

World number one Dustin Johnson, pictured playing in The Open at Hoylake in 2014, took six months away from golf later that year to address “personal challenges”

When Tiger Woods was fined by the European Tour for spitting on a green in Dubai in 2011, we were never told how much he was forced to pay.

Indeed, sanctions can be handed down week in, week out but rarely will the punishments be made public.

And given the bulging bank balances of leading players, financial penalties make little difference.

Publicising their misdemeanours would be much more of a punishment and deterrent.

And thanks to Molinari, compelling evidence has been revealed showing which players have been playing most slowly on the European Tour this year.

We know that two South Africans – 2010 Open winner Louis Oosthuizen and Erik van Rooyen – and Spain’s Adrian Otaegui have been fined for slow play.

They are among 54 players who were recorded for time breaches in tour events that included the Masters and World Golf Championships.

Others on the list include Woods, Henrik Stenson, Bernhard Langer and Bryson DeChambeau.

This all came to light because of the five hours 30 minutes it took Molinari to play a round in Morocco last week.

He posted on social media: “It’s time that professional golf does something serious for slow play…5h30min to play 18 holes on a golf course without rough is just too long…way too long!”

The 2010 Ryder Cup player went further by saying that if he received 1,000 retweets he would post the latest list of European Tour players being timed and fined.

More than 1,300 retweets later, Edoardo was true to his word. He posted the slow-play list, which is routinely made available to players.

Although it is not confidential information, it is not pushed out to a wider audience as a matter of course. Privately, though, European Tour bosses will be thrilled by the Italian star’s initiative. They are keen to speed up play but do not want to alienate their membership.

The PGA Tour is less bothered by the plodders, and the US-based Graeme McDowell provided a lukewarm response to Molinari’s move.

“I hear where Edoardo is coming from, but he is, what shall we say, flogging a dead horse,” said the 2010 US Open winner.

“It’s not a dead horse, but it’s pretty dead. What do you want to do? We can’t get around there much quicker. Is 20 minutes going to change his life?

“I like Edoardo – nice kid – but I think he’s just frustrated.”

Edoardo Molinari (bottom row, second left) and Graeme McDowell (bottom right) played together for the winning European Ryder Cup team at Celtic Manor in 2010

The Northern Irishman is usually one of golf’s most articulate and insightful voices.

Significantly, he agreed with the principle that those who break rules should be openly punished.

“Name and shame,” he said. “I’m willing to admit I’ve been timed five times so far this year – been put on the clock five times – which is halfway to my 10, which is halfway to a $25,000 fine.”

Not that we will know when or if McDowell reaches the point where he is forced to put his hand in his pocket for playing too slowly.

Eventually that day might come, though, and Edoardo Molinari has certainly nudged the game in that direction.

Then again, things tend to move rather slowly in golf.

Read More

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here