Rory McIlroy couldn’t hold it in any longer after his Friday second round at the 2019 Players Championship. The pace of play at TPC Sawgrass, as well throughout this PGA Tour season, has been so abysmal the Ulsterman had to say something.
Following a 7-under 65 that brought him into a tie with Tommy Fleetwood for the lead on 12-under 132, McIlroy laid into the pace of play that saw him play another 5-hour-plus round.
McIlroy was asked why the pace was so poor at Sawgrass, a day after Anirban Lahiri was unable to complete play and had to return during the start of the second round to officially complete Round 1.
“Because [the PGA Tour doesn’t] do anything about it,”McIlroy said. “It’s become somewhat of an epidemic on tour.”
The four-time major winner, who sees the other side of things pretty well, said it was problematic the Indian didn’t finish given Daylight Saving Time has already started.
“Look, it’s our livelihoods, and people are going to take their time, and as the course dries up and gets firmer and gets tougher, guys are going to take their time, but the fact that someone didn’t finish yesterday, just being through daylight savings and the tee times and someone had to come out today because there wasn’t enough light to finish, I mean, that’s unacceptable,” he said.
With the PGA Tour sending out groups in threesomes on the first two days of full-field events, rounds typically spill over into that 5-hour range. However, when the round gets closer to 5-and-a-half hours, it’s out of control, in McIlroy’s opinion.
“What time is it right now, 7:35? Yeah, so, this is five hours, 40 [minutes] after our tee time,” he said. “I get that it can take five hours to play out there, but it shouldn’t take any over that.”
So, what’s the remedy? It apparently isn’t peer pressure, as Brooks Koepka’s jabbing of Bryson DeChambeau’s deliberate nature didn’t do much, and J.B. Holmes won at Riviera despite plumb-bobbing a 2-foot putt and going at an abysmal pace. McIlroy subscribes to the same solution — that’s available to the Tour — as the likes of Adam Scott: give out penalty strokes.
“Honestly, I think they should just being a little tougher and start penalizing shots earlier,” McIlroy said, “and that would be an easy way to fix it.”