Was Graeme McDowell unfairly put on clock after on-course interview?

January 31, 2020

Graeme McDowell’s generosity to the media backfired at the European Tour’s Saudi International on Friday, when an on-course interview he gave during his round resulted in him being put on the clock.

In his post-round comments to the media, McDowell, who is currently in third (-8) at the tournament’s halfway point,  revealed that being put on the clock “upset [his] rhythm.”

“I got a monitoring bad time which then turns into being officially on the clock,” McDowell said. “I hit a pretty nice tee shot [on No. 5]. Tim Barter is out there interviewing for SKY Sports and he asked me to do an interview walking up the fairway, which I said yes to, and when I got to my ball, I was first up. So I was 50 yards behind the guys with 215 yards back into the wind with a 3-iron and the wind laid down. I took an extra few seconds and [the referee] gave me a monitoring penalty, which puts me officially on the clock at that point.

“I’d of called a time-out if that had been something that was automatic in my brain,” McDowell continued. “It’s just, you know, the last thing I think of out there. I called a time-out after I hit the shot, but the referee was not really willing to give me any kind of room for error at all. That kind of upset my rhythm for a couple holes. I was disappointed to get that bad time, but it is what it is.”

Under the European Tour’s new, more stringent pace of play policy that went into effect this year, two bad times for an individual player results in a one-stroke penalty. The policy also allows players the option to request one time extension per round, giving an additional 40 seconds to hit a shot on this request, which is what we assume McDowell is talking about when he mentions calling for a “time-out.”

Luckily, McDowell did not end up being penalized for slow play, and said that, overall, he supports pace-of-play enforcement.

“We’ve got to play faster, simple as,” he said. “And I get where everybody’s coming from with the new rules. So I think they are great. I just was kind of unduly affected me. Maybe wrongly so; I felt like I had been playing pretty fast till that point.”

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