Lengthy putting routine at U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship triggers slow-play debate

July 30, 2019

To be fair, it was an important putt.

Playing in the final of the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship last weekend, Jillian Bourdage, 17, found herself facing a roughly three-foot putt on the 31st hole of the match at SentryWorld in Stevens Point, Wis. The putt was for a halve and would keep Bourdage just 1-down against her opponent, 18-year-old Lei Ye of China, with five holes to play. Bourdage would hole the putt, but it’s the time that it took her to do so that had golf fans buzzing when video of the sequence started to make the rounds on Monday.

Ten seconds passed as Bourdage began sizing up the putt. Then 30. Then a full minute.

“Bourdage does not hit these putts until she is 100 percent comfortable and ready,” Fox Sports play-by-play man Shane Bacon said on the broadcast.

“It’s a process,” added Fox analyst Juli Inkster.

In all, about 90 seconds transpired before Bourdage finally stepped up and knocked the ball in the hole.

“You don’t wanna take that much time and then miss them,” Inkster said after the ball dropped. “At least she’s making them.”

Ye would go on to win the match, 1 up, on the 36th hole, but it was Bourdage’s putting routine on the 31st hole that triggered a heated debate on social media. Watch how it all unfolds here:

Slow play is always a hot-button topic, but the exceptional length of time that it took Bourdage to assess such a short and seemingly straightforward putt hit a particularly sharp nerve on Twitter. On Tuesday afternoon, video of the clip posted by SB Nation writer Brendan Porath, had garnered nearly 200,000 views and nearly 300 replies. Some commenters, including Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, cautioned against placing too much blame on Bourdage…

But the vast majority of commenters were far less sympathetic, with some alleging that the prolonged prep time between putts was unfair to Bourdage’s opponent.

Earlier this year the USGA introduced a new rule that encourages a prompt pace of play. Rule 5.6 states that “players should recognize that their pace of play affects others and they should play promptly throughout the round (such as by preparing in advance for each stroke and moving promptly between strokes and in going to the next tee).”

The rule also states that “a player should make a stroke in no more than 40 seconds (and usually in less time) after the player is able to play without interference or distraction.”

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