Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 2 August 2014

Bring in a speed clock to hurry up slow stars: Colin Montgomerie

Colin Montgomerie

Former European number one Colin Montgomerie believes the introduction of a shot clock would instantly solve the problem of slow play on the course.

The Scot, who topped the Order of Merit on an unprecedented eight occasions from the late 1990s onwards, thinks all players should be timed from the moment they tee off

He said the "biggest bugbear" in golf was slow play and it needed to be tackled and that meant applying penalties fairly across the board.

At The Open last week, 19-year-old Japanese player Hideki Matsuyama, who only turned professional in April, was penalised a stroke for slow play in his third round but no high-profile player has ever been punished.

"What I would love to see, as a fast player knowing it would never happen to me, would be for one of the top players to have that shot penalty and then it would really resonate throughout the rest of the field," said the Scot.

"If only one of them was finally found out because they are still taking too long.

"They should be playing in no more than four hours for any round of golf on any course.

"Unfortunately they are given far too long. Why do you have to wait to be slow before you are put on the clock?

"There are 52 referees out there at major championships and they should all have a clock should be able to put them on the clock on the first tee to ensure they all get around in time.

"It has been mentioned about a shot clock and that is interesting: there should be an allotted time to play the game, like chess were you have a certain time to play.

"If the first two groups take five or more hours to go round then the day is gone, you can't make it up. But if that first group takes four hours and five minutes then you have a chance.

"The biggest bugbear in golf is slow play."

Montgomerie, who has reunited with caddy Alistair McLean with whom he won his eight Order of Merits, has played two tournaments as a senior so far, both in the United States.

And unlike his time on the European Tour, when some days he appeared ready to explode in a fit of rage, he is now playing with a smile on his face.

He puts that down to putting less pressure on himself – but he is even finding the American crowds, so often harsh on him, are changing.

"It used to be 'Go home Monty' now it's 'Go Monty' – they've dropped the home bit'," said Montgomerie, who is hoping to succeed where he could not on the regular tour and win his first major as a senior at Royal Birkdale this week.

"I am more relaxed now on and off the course.

"The days of the intensity and the desire and ambition have reduced to an extent which allow me to play possibly better than I have for a while.

"When I peg the ball up tomorrow it will with a feeling that I have an opportunity to win as opposed to treading water on the (European) Tour.

"I would love to win but winning now would be a bonus.

"Here the majors are more important to win. I am still very young to this and haven't been in contention for a while, my last win was the European Open in 2007. It's a long time to not be in that winner's circle. I want to try to get into contention."

Montgomerie tees off with defending champion Fred Couples and Mark O'Meara.

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