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‘It’s a disgrace’: Matt Fitzpatrick calls out slow play; Patrick Cantlay says he’s ‘happy to talk’

U.S. Open and RBC Heritage champion Matt Fitzpatrick made his stance on slow play clear to Sky Sports on Wednesday: “It’s a disgrace… it’s truly appalling… It’s like hitting your head against a brick wall.”

Discussions about the pace of play are nothing new, but they were renewed at the Masters in early April, when runner-up Brooks Koepka called it out in his post-round press conference.

“The group in front of us was brutally slow,” Koepka said. “Jon [Rahm] went to the bathroom like seven times during the round, and we were still waiting.”

Less than two weeks apart, there was one common denominator between Koepka and Fitzpatrick’s remarks: Patrick Cantlay.

Cantlay was part of the group in front of Koepka and Rahm during the final round at Augusta National, and he was in the final threesome with Fitzpatrick and Jordan Spieth at the Heritage last weekend.

“If you’re in a three-ball, in my opinion, you should be round in four hours, four-and-a-half absolute maximum – it’s a disgrace to get anywhere near that,” Fitzpatrick said. “You’re talking five hours and 15 minutes, five-and-a-half hours at some venues, and its truly appalling.

“The problem is this conversation has gone on for years and years and years, and no one has ever done anything, so I feel it’s almost a waste of time talking about it. I have strong opinions, but no one’s going to do anything about it.”

On Sunday, the threesome’s round took approximately five hours before Spieth and Fitzpatrick went to a playoff, with Fitzpatrick ultimately securing his second Tour win.

And for the second week in a row, Cantlay was asked about his slow play.

“The times that it’s taken to play rounds has been pretty much the same for the last 10 or even longer years, so trying to speed it up, I’d be curious to know how they’d want to do that,” Cantlay said alongside his Zurich Classic teammate Xander Schauffele on Wednesday. “I played the last two tournaments, and my group hasn’t been warned at all, so we’ve been in position the entire time. I don’t know how you would want even the groups that I’ve been in to play faster when our groups are in position and can’t go faster because the group in front of us is right in front of us.”

In the same breath, Cantlay admitted he’s a slow player.

“Yeah, I’m definitely slower than average – have been my whole career. I definitely take my time. And when I hit my ball on a bulkhead, I’m definitely going to take my time to make sure I make the right decision and try to get the ball back into the right spot.”

The PGA Tour tracks total round time, but that information is not made public, and while the Tour’s Pace of Play Policy outlines an individual stroke time limit, it does not lay out an overall round time limit. The latest policy was introduced in 2020 and seeks to identify players who take 45 seconds or longer on average to hit a shot and, subsequently, add them to an observation list, which is also not public.

Fans will sometimes hear commentators share if there was a slow play warning issued to a group of players. Based off Fitzpatrick’s reaction, and the ongoing discussion by fans and players, it seems the Tour is not enforcing the policy beyond the occasional warning.

“It’s like hitting your head against a brick wall,” Fitzpatrick continued. “No one ever gets penalized. I think the last person to get penalized was the young lad (Guan Tianlang) at the Masters in 2013. I think that tells you enough about where people are at with this. It’s ridiculous really.

“I think it’s a real issue, way more needs to be done. The thing is I really like referees over here, they are great people, but I did not see a single ref all day. There were a few shots we were waiting, and I don’t understand where they are all hiding. It does become frustrating when you are waiting so long.”

There have been a few slow play penalties documented since Tianlang: Hideki Matsuyama received one the same year, in the ’13 Open; Miguel Angel Carballo and Brian Campbell were penalized one shot on the 14th hole of the opening round at the Zurich Classic in 2017; and John Catlin received a one-stroke penalty during the opening round of the PGA Championship in 2021 – the only documented penalty since the new policy was established.

While Cantlay said he wasn’t warned at the Masters or Heritage, he’s open to talking to his fellow Tour members that have a problem with his pace.

“I haven’t had anybody come up to me or talk to me,” he said, “but I’d be perfectly happy to talk to them about it.”

Schauffele also went on the defensive when asked about Fitzpatrick’s comments, shifting the blame to the Tour.

“I think that’s the Tour’s job to sort of take a stance there,” Schauffele said. “All the things that have happened as of late have all been within the guidelines of the Tour and what’s supposed to happen. No one’s been penalized for slow play or anything of that nature, so we’re all operating within the framework of what the Tour gives us.

“If enough people complain or if enough Tour pros complain, that’s something the Tour needs to address to either make it faster or change the time par… We’re not playing the local muni – that sort of the Average Joe compares our time par to. We’re playing for a couple million – you know, $3.6 million. If you’re going to spend an extra minute to make sure you put yourself in the right spot, we’re going to do it. That’s just the nature of our game and our sport.”