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Some of the faster players are getting slow

Some of the faster players are getting slow

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. (AP) Five tournaments into his rookie season, Brian Harman realized his game wasn't suited for the PGA Tour.

He played too fast.

At a time when tournament golf is getting unwanted attention for taking too long, Harman is among several young players setting a good pace, not to mention a good example. But after more than a month of standing around, he needed help. So he called Lucas Glover, a mentor with a quick trigger.

``I talked to him about playing slower,'' Harman said. ``I said, `Look, man, it's driving me nuts out here.' ``

Glover gave him a few tips from his own experience. Be the last player to leave the tee box. Walk slower to the ball. Get water when you're not thirsty. Use the bathroom even if you don't have to go. Take a little more time studying the yardage book.

A week later, Glover was driving from Sea Island to south Florida for the Seminole Pro-Member when he asked his girlfriend to check the scores from the second round of the Honda Classic. She mentioned that some guy named Brian Harman had shot 61.

``The kid listens well,'' Glover said.

Harman is not alone, which is encouraging. The shame of it is that you never hear of slow guys who are consciously trying to pick up the pace. It's always the other way around.

Dustin Johnson is another player who pulls the club, sees the shot and hits the shot. He was the second to tee off on the par-5 12th hole at Doral a few years ago. It took him 14 seconds to take the driver from the bag, place the ball on the tee, find his target, take a practice swing and step over the ball. Four seconds later, the ball was airborne.

Johnson might have been fast to a fault. Think back to the second hole at Pebble Beach in the final round of the 2010 U.S. Open. Before Johnny Miller could complete a sentence, Johnson took three chips - one from the left side - on his way to a triple bogey that cost him his three-shot lead. Then, he quickly pulled driver and hit into the bushes for a lost ball and double bogey, and his Open was over.

That wasn't what led to the change, though. Just like Harman - and Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Brandt Snedeker and others - Johnson figured if no one else was going to speed up, it would only help him slow down. That or lose a piece of his sanity.

``Guys out here play really slow, and they're not going to speed up,'' Johnson said. ``I can be miserable, play fast all day and wait, or I can slow down a bit, which can't hurt.''

Johnson is still quick, and much quicker than most. He takes a little more time when he gets to the ball, waits a few seconds to pull the club from the bag. And he's taking more time on the green, looking at putts from multiple sides of the hole.

But that's what golf has come to in this generation. Instead of the faster players bringing everyone else up to speed, they have to downshift.

``It can be painful if you play quick,'' Fowler said. ``You're going to be spending a lot of time standing there. It almost starts hurting your legs and feet when you're just standing there. I learned quickly that you have to be patient.''

Criticizing slow play is as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. For all the anecdotal evidence, the fix is not as simple as it might seem. When greens are firm and fast, there are going to be more putts that run 4 feet by the hole. Those aren't considered tap-ins. Rules officials have lobbied for years to reduce the size of the fields because too many players can turn a golf course into the 405 in Los Angeles during rush hour, which is just about any hour.

Meantime, players have a choice - stand around or slow down.

McIlroy gave golf a jolt of energy with his exciting game, and adding to his appeal was how quickly he went about his business. He can be an inspiration to young golfers not only with the way he plays and his good manners, but his pace. Now, however, even Boy Wonder has joined the ranks of fast players who have learned to slow down.

He traces that to the final round of the 2011 Masters, although he places the blame on his epic meltdown to his swing and his putting, not how long he had to wait. McIlroy was in the last group with Angel Cabrera, as fast as any golfer on the planet. Ahead of them were K.J. Choi and Charl Schwartzel, with Jason Day in the next group.

``I played with Cabrera, who's really quick,'' McIlroy said. ``After that, I realized I'm just going to slow it down a little bit, and it's helped. I hate slow play. I don't want to get frustrated by me playing quick and having to wait all the time. I just sort of try to take my time a little more.''

Brandt Snedeker says he has slowed down, which is hard to believe. Snedeker walks fast and talks fast, and even his practice strokes on the putting green are done in rapid-fire succession. He learned that from his father, Larry, who instilled in his sons at a young age not to make anyone behind them wait. That's the only way Snedeker knows.

But even he concedes to marching to a slightly slower beat.

``Otherwise, I'd end up waiting all day,'' Snedeker said. ``We're conditioned to slow play. Unfortunately, it's become that way. I wish we could play every round under four hours. But you've got to get used to that.''

That's what Pat Perez has done. He doesn't slow down. He doesn't like the pace of play. He has just learned to accept it.

Perez was paired with one of the more notorious snails in the final group one year when someone asked him if the pace would hurt his chances. Perez has never blamed his failures on anyone but himself, and he wasn't about to start.

``I wait on every single shot, every single day on the PGA Tour,'' he said. ``I've gotten really used to doing that.''

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

Instead of visiting the White House when they come to Washington this week to play the Wizards, the defending-champion Golden State Warriors plan to hold an event with D.C.-area kids.

Their invitation was rescinded by president Donald Trump following a back-and-forth between the two sides last year. After the Warriors won the title, they openly questioned whether they should follow the tradition given many of the players and coaches disagree with his policies. Trump took the opportunity away before they came to a final decision.

PODCAST: WIZARDS MAKE A FREE AGENT SIGNING

The Warriors' event will be closed off to the media and held at an undisclosed location. It is set for Tuesday, the day before they play the Wizards at Capital One Arena. The Warriors had the option of holding a ceremony with other politicians in the Democratic party, but decided that would send the wrong message. 

"It's their championship. They got disinvited to the White House, so it's up to them what they wanted to do. So they made their plans," coach Steve Kerr said. "I want the players to have a good day and to do something positive and to enjoy what they're doing."

The Warriors are the first NBA team to make this choice since Trump was elected president. Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers held their celebration with president Barack Obama in November. They did so just days after Trump was elected and LeBron James questioned at the time whether he would visit the White House with Trump in office.

RELATED: DURANT MAKES HUGE DONATION TO PG COUNTY SCHOOLS

Sports teams visiting the White House goes back to the mid-1800s. The first World Series title team to visit was the 1924 Washington Senators. By the 1960s, NBA teams were going and by the 1980s NFL and NHL teams made it a tradition.

Entire teams snubbing the White House is unusual, but many players have turned down the opportunity. In the NBA, some famous cases include Larry Bird in 1984 and Michael Jordan in 1991, according to Rolling Stone.

Perhaps the Warriors start a trend, or maybe it will be a one-off thing. Regardless, the alternative they chose is a respectable one. 

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS

 

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Game 62: Capitals vs. Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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Game 62: Capitals vs. Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabres

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Sabres will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Sabres game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

The Capitals (34-20-7) take on the Sabres (18-32-11) Saturday, February 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Capital One Arena.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME ON?

The Capitals-Sabres game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Sabres
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:00 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Sabres game:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Defensemen
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Michal Kempny - Brooks Orpik

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

The Capitals-Panthers game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

CAPITALS-SABRES OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.