DeChambeau defends social media criticism of slow play

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) — Bryson DeChambeau wasted no time defending himself against accusations of slow play Saturday after harsh criticism on social media stemming from a video showing him taking more than two minutes to hit an 8-foot putt.

Among those who criticized him on Twitter was Eddie Pepperell of England, who is not at The Northern Trust because he’s not a PGA Tour member. He referred to DeChambeau as “the unaffected single minded twit” who doesn’t care much for others.

Rich Beem, a former PGA champion who works for British-based Sky Sports, said he was outraged as a PGA Tour member that protecting the field should include penalizing or disqualifying this kind of behavior.

DeChambeau said the putt in question Friday was difficult to judge because it looked different than what the greens book indicated, and his caddie called him off the putt at one point.

More disturbing was the attacks on social media.

“When people start talking to me about slow play and how I’m killing the game, I’m doing this-and-that to the game, that is complete and utter ... you-know what,” he said. “That’s not fair.”

DeChambeau shot an even-par 71 on Saturday and was tied for 24th. After signing his card, he hopped onto a stage in front of the microphone and said loudly, “Let’s talk about slow play, guys.” He then spoke for more than two minutes stating his case.

Some of it was a repeat from his complaints at the Memorial, where he received a bad time for taking too long over his second shot into the par-5 fifth. He said caddies play a role in the pace of play, and that the PGA Tour should change its policy to include how long it takes to walk to the next shot.

The tour policy allows for one minute for the first player hitting a particular shot — from the tee, the fairway, around the green — and 40 seconds for everyone else. Warning, bad times or even penalties are not issued unless the group is out of position.

DeChambeau believes he’s being singled out because of his approach to the game, which includes contemplating air density, wind direction and other factors. He says he runs into a problem such as that 8-foot putt about 1 percent of the time.

He was playing with Justin Thomas and Tommy Fleetwood of England, who stood to the side of the green as DeChambeau looked at the putt from both sides, studied his greens book, backed off the putt and after more than two minutes, missed it, anyway.

Thomas, responding to a thread involving LPGA player Christina Kim and former British Open champion Paul Lawrie, added that it was “hard to watch,” using an emoji of a clock for the last word.

“I should have said something in person,” Thomas said. “I like Bryson as a person, but he’s a slow golfer.”

Thomas added it wasn’t just DeChambeau who plays slowly, “it’s a lot of people.” Just last month, J.B. Holmes was singled out for his pace at the British Open, and earlier at the Genesis Open when he won at Riviera.

Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy weighed in on pace of play earlier in the week when they were asked questions, though the topic has been going on for years.

“It’s so hard to get a perfect system,” Thomas said, adding that it comes up at every Player Advisory Council meeting. But when asked if there was any validity to DeChambeau saying the amount of time allowed players should include how quickly they walked to the ball, Thomas disagreed.

“I think there’s absolutely none,” he said. “We were still a hole-and-a-half behind, so obviously it’s not working. You don’t get timed how fast you walk to the ball.”

DeChambeau was most bothered by the attacks on social media.

“I play a different way out there,” he said. “I take my 40 seconds that’s allotted, sometimes over — absolutely. Totally agree. It’s maybe 5% of the time. But I’ll tell you that it’s really kind of unfortunate the way it’s perceived because there’s a lot of other guys that take a lot of time. They don’t talk about this matter and for me personally, it is an attack and it is something that is not me whatsoever.

“People don’t realize the harm that they are doing to the individuals.”

He said he saw the comments before getting to the course and it bothered him. DeChambeau said players have been nice to him and he has not issues with them.

“But when you start personally attacking people on Twitter, it’s like, ’Come on, dude. Let’s have some more (guts) to come up and speak to me to my face about that,” DeChambeau said.