Jordan Spieth is apparently a little too slow for the liking of the European Tour.
On Thursday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, Spieth, who is making his debut in the tournament, was given a "monitoring" penalty that, if it happens again, will lead to a fine.
Spieth and playing partners Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler were told by European Tour chief rules official John Paramor heading to the fourth tee -- their 13th hole of Thursday's opening round -- that the group was being monitored for their pace of pace.
Under the European Tour's old policy, the group would pretty much be left alone at that point and expected to pick up the pace. However, under a new policy which starts this week, players on watch have 40 seconds (bumped to 50 seconds if they're first to play) to play a shot. Spieth apparently did not pull the trigger in time on the eighth green (17th hole of the day). He was told on the ninth tee, ahead of his final tee shot, that he was receiving a "monitoring" penalty. There are no penalty strokes associated with the penalty, but Spieth could be subject to a fine of approximately $2,810 if he is put on watch and has another slow time.
Consider Spieth baffled.
“It didn’t make any sense to me,” said Spieth, who finished with 4-under 68, four shots behind leader amateur Bryson DeChambeau. “It didn’t affect the round, but Rory and Rickie were surprised as well.”
The new policy is intended to allow Euro Tour officials to penalize slow-playing individuals instead of a whole group. However, the policy also emphasizes groups keeping up with the group ahead of them, disregarding the flow of the course, including the group behind.
McIlroy didn't understand the need for the penalty.
“It was a bit of a weird one,” McIlroy said. “Sometimes the refs have to use common sense. With the time we’re allowed if you take an extra look at a putt you’re over the time. But if we’re in position, there’s no reason to time us.”