Xander Schauffele defends slow pace of play

David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to the debate about whether the pace of play is too slow on the PGA Tour, Xander Schauffele said to follow the money.

“We’re not playing like the local muni that sort of the average Joe compares our time par to,” Schauffele said Wednesday. “We’re playing for a couple million — you know, $3.6 million (for first place last Sunday at the RBC Heritage). 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.”

Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay — who admits to being “definitely slower than average” — are the defending champions of this week’s event on the PGA Tour, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, which uses a two-man team format at TPC Louisiana in Avondale.

They were asked at a pre-tournament press conference Wednesday about the comments of Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick, who won the RBC Heritage in Hilton Head Island, S.C., but complained about the pace of play.

“I think they give us way too much leeway to get round,” Fitzpatrick later told Sky Sports. “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. You’re talking five (and) 15, five and a half (hours) at some venues, and it’s truly appalling.”

Fitzpatrick added that repeated attempts to address the subject with officials in the sport have failed to produce action.

“I feel like it’s almost a waste of time talking about it every time,” he said.

Cantlay has been used by others as an example of a slow player, but he said Wednesday that no one has approached him about it.

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

Cantlay was also unsure how the Tour would make changes that would effectively speed up a round.

“The times that it’s taken to play rounds has been pretty much the same for the last ten or even longer years,” Cantlay said. “So trying to speed it up, I’d be curious to know how they’d want to do that.

“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.”

With Fitzpatrick’s comments, Schauffele said that it’s up to the PGA Tour to “take a stance.”

“All the things that have happened as of late have all been within the guidelines of the Tour and what’s supposed to happen,” Schauffele said. “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 PGA Tour professionals complain, he said, the Tour can require faster play, but the difficulties of a given course and the conditions need to be considered.

“Without any context, it gets tricky because when you set up golf courses with Stimp 13 or 14 greens, tees in interesting positions, and pins in tough spots, it’s just going to take longer,” Schauffele said.

–Field Level Media

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