by Jeff Skinner
The Deutsche Bank Championship provided us with an exciting ending and a great Labor Day weekend of golf. Even without Mr. Woods in the mix there were many interesting stories. Mr. Nice Guy, Steve Stricker’s victory has added another twist to the FedEx Cup playoffs as he has supplanted Tiger from the number one spot in FedEx Cup points. One of the lingering problems that continues to plague the PGA Tour went unnoticed by television, the media and most of the fans on Sunday. The dreaded ailment that hounds golf on all levels reared its ugly head on Sunday; slow play was back at The Deutsche Bank.
I was standing at the fifteenth green when the tidal wave of fans that follow Tiger swamped the entire hole. I was able to watch Tiger register a birdie that put him to eight under for the day. I was walking the course backwards and moved over to the fourteenth fairway to catch a glimpse of Vijay Singh and Steve Marino who had teed off twenty minutes after Woods. However they were nowhere to be found. I watched Kevin Streelman and Troy Matteson hit their approach on fifteen and still, there was no sign of another group on fifteen or fourteen. A roving volunteer that was walking with Singh/Marino was now on the fifteenth fairway and I asked him what the delay was. Maybe they had to wait for rulings, lost balls, whatever. He said no, there were none of those, only that they were not playing well together. I asked if there was a problem between the two of them but that’s all he would say. About this time a PGA Tour rules official arrived in a cart and sat to the side of the fourteenth fairway and finally Marino and Singh appeared on the fourteenth tee. There was no one on the entire fourteenth hole and there was no one on the entire fifteenth hole either. Two entire par fours stood empty ahead of them. That is unbelievable and unacceptable. If that was to happen at some of the courses I play at I would have been moved into position by the ranger, or asked to let other groups play through, or kicked off the course, or most likely been hit by half a dozen golf balls from the frustrated group behind me.
This was The PGA Tour, The FedEx Cup, The Playoffs, this was ridiculous. It gets better. Marino and Singh are now standing over at their shots Marino in the fairway, Singh in the rough. Marino is 184 yards from the green with a little downhill. There is barely twenty fans lining the fairway as they all grew bored watching the rough grow and left to see some real golf. At the green there are a handful of people behind the green, mostly volunteers working the hole. Now Marino stands behind his ball and stares at the green for a minute or two or three. He then raises his left hand over his head and stares intently at the green. He does this for awhile and it hits me what he is doing. He is telling, demanding in terms of his body language, that they stop moving up at the green. I was stunned, this was unbelievable. He is 184 yards away, taking forever over his ball and demanding that there be no movement up at the green. Are you kidding me? I could understand if he was close to the green and hitting a chip or a putt, but 184 yards away! That’s over kill. I wonder if he has super human peripheral vision and he can see out the side of his head 184 yards away as he addresses his ball. Last I knew you are looking down at the general vicinity of the ball when you are swinging, not at the green. It’s no wonder there were two holes open ahead of them if he was expecting people in a 200 yard radius to stand still when he was ready to hit. Something is wrong here. I could not find any mention of a warning for slow play anywhere in the accounts of Sunday’s play. If there ever was a time for a penalty for slow play it was here. There were way out of position and making no attempt to catch up. The PGA Rules official took no action, thereby enabling Marino to continue his snail like habits. It made for lousy golf and it is easy to see how players can get frustrated by delays and backups caused by such actions. It was the perfect spot to enforce the rules but The PGA Tour stood by and watched. I put Marino on my list of players to avoid watching.