The Open 2019: Slow-play critic Brooks Koepka appears to be irritated by playing with deliberate J.B. Holmes

July 21, 2019

For a juicy subplot to Sunday’s final round at the Open Championship at Royal Portrush, check out the contrasting styles in the penultimate pairing: J.B. Holmes and Brooks Koepka. You can almost feel Koepka simmering through your TV screen.

Holmes is known as one of the, um, “most deliberate” players on Tour, while Koepka absolutely loathes slow play. Could a potentially long day on the links have crept into Koepka’s head early in his round? He started his day with four straight bogeys before making eagle on the par-4 5th to steady himself. Koepka has dominated majors recently, finishing 2-1-2 in his last three, so his Sunday start was quite a surprise. We’re just reading body language here but…

But our strongest piece of evidence that Koepka is getting a little fed up with Holmes’ pace comes from this tweet from Golf Channel’s Will Gray, who is on site and walking with the pairing.

We’ll see if Koepka has anything to say about the pace of his final round later on Sunday. In the meantime, here’s a reminder that earlier this year Koepka went on essentially a scorched-earth media tour to rail against slow play.

In January he hopped on the Golf Monthly Clubhouse Podcast and called slow play “embarrassing.”

“I just don’t understand how it takes a minute and 20 seconds, or a minute and 15 to hit a golf ball — it’s not that hard,” he said. “It’s always between two clubs: there’s a miss short, there’s a miss long. It really drives me nuts especially when it’s a long hitter because you know you’ve got two other guys or at least one guy that’s hitting before you, so you can do all your calculations, you should have your numbers.”

In February he went after it again on Sirius XM with host Danny Kanell.

“It is frustrating. There’s a lot of slow players, a lot of them are kind of the very good players, too, which is kind of the problem,” Koepka said. “I think it’s weird how we have rules where we have to make sure it’s dropping from knee height or the caddie can’t be behind you and then they also have a rule where you have to hit it in 40 seconds, but that one’s not enforced. You enforce some but you don’t enforce the others.

“[Slow players are] breaking the rules but no one ever has the balls to actually penalize them.”

And in March Koepka fired more shots in an episode of Feherty on Golf Channel.

“These rules officials need to take it in their own hands and actually penalize us,” he said. “I mean, you penalize this [14-year-old] kid at Augusta (Guan Tianlang in 2013), but professionals who are doing it week in, week out [aren’t penalized]. A lot of the guys are notable guys, and that’s part of the problem. I think a lot of the guys that are the best players in the world are taking their sweet time.”

So, yeah, Koepka is not a big fan of slow play. And Sunday in Portrush he drew one of golf’s biggest offenders. How does this story end? Don’t touch that dial.