Colin Montgomerie calls for penalties on slow play

Colin Montgomerie: 'The deterrent isn't strong enough. Picture: Getty Images

Colin Montgomerie: 'The deterrent isn't strong enough. Picture: Getty Images

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While not necessarily pointing a finger at his rivals in the European Senior Tour’s season-ending event starting in Mauritius today, Colin Montgomerie has added his voice to the call for slow play to be punished by shots rather than money.

The Scot believes the current system of hitting the game’s snails with fines is a “joke” and called for officials to start being “proactive rather than reactive” in a bid to improve pace of play.

That issue was the topic of a two-day conference in St Andrews a fortnight ago and Montgomerie said he is firmly behind the R&A preparing a manual that will aim to try to stamp out slow play across golf.

“It is one of the issues why we, in the western world, are not playing as much golf,” he said ahead of the MCB Tour Championship at Constance Belle Mare Plage, where the 52-year-old is teeing up in the luxury of knowing that he will finish as the circuit’s No 1 for the second season running. “People want to do different things with their leisure time and there is more availability in that respect these days.

“Golf has suffered due to the time it now takes to play and I feel the only way to deal with it properly is by being proactive, not reactive to a situation. By that, I mean we shouldn’t have to wait for a group to be out of position before we try and make that position better.

“We should be proactive and especially in majors, where there’s a referee with every group, players should be on the clock from the word go. The first group should then play in the same time as the last group. They’d all get round in 4hrs 15mins or the allotted time to play because that’s what has been planned out.

“At the moment, we have to wait until there’s a situation before that group is warned and that’s not right, no, as we all suffer. Sponsors suffer, TV suffer and the general public, too, as they want to see action.”

It was revealed during the St Andrews summit that 24 golfers had incurred penalty shots on the European Tour since 1998, but, on the PGA Tour, only one player has been penalised in a regular event over the past 20 years.

“The deterrent isn’t strong enough, there’s no question,” added Montgomerie, who, of course, has long been renowned as one of the game’s quickest players. “The fines are a joke as people just take them and move on.

“I believe the last person to get fined a shot penalty on the PGA Tour was Glen Day, who we called All Day. That was in 1995, which is just unbelievable. No-one has been penalised a shot since then.

“I get on with it and it is wrong that the pace of play is generated by the slowest player and not the quickest one – that is not right.”

Having already earned €614,011 so far this year – the bulk of that was earned through retaining his Senior PGA title then finishing second in the US Senior Open – Montgomerie would break his own record for winnings in a Senior Tour season with a top-10 finish on Sunday.

“It was always going to be difficult to replicate my 2014 season, but to defend my US Senior PGA title, win the Travis Perkins Senior Masters [at Wentworth] for the third time and come close in both the US Senior Open and Senior Open Championship, it has to go down as another successful campaign,” he said.

“To win the John Jacobs Trophy in my first two full seasons on the Senior Tour is a real honour, and hopefully I can round off another great year with a good performance in Mauritius.

“I’ve finished sixth here for the past two seasons, so any improvement on that would be very nice and another win would obviously be the perfect end to the season.

“After Mauritius, I’ll be packing away the clubs for a little while then getting ready for next season. I’m still as ambitious to achieve more success, and win more majors – it’s what keeps us going in this game, after all.”

Also in a field that has Englishman Paul Wesselingh defending the title are Sam Torrance, Ross Drummond and Gordon Brand Jnr.

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