by Graham Otway
Darren Clarke is backing a campaign to stamp out the curse of slow play, which reduces the entertainment value at so many European Tour events.
The Ryder Cup captain declared his policy after an ugly incident involving Alvaro Quiros during the second day of the Portugal Masters.
The Spaniard called for Andy McFee, the chief referee of the European Tour, to attend a meeting in the scorers hut after he had signed for a 68 and wanted to complain about the behaviour of his French playing partner, Gary Stal, out on the course.
With Thomas Bjorn, the chairman of the tournament players’ committee – who had been playing in the group behind – also in attendance, Quiros complained: “Gary Stal is a pain in the a**e, because when the referee appeared the slowest player in our group starts to play quicker.
“When I asked him why he doesn’t play at the pace when the referee approached us, he just ignored me.
“I then said to Andy McFee he is a cheater, but then I don’t mean he was cheating and breaking the rules. I just get so p****d off because it happens every single day of every golf tournament, and it’s an issue we have here, especially on the European Tour, and we need to fix it somehow.”
Clarke missed the cut in Portugal after shooting 71 and 75, but when asked about the slow play issue he was quick to offer his views.
He said: “Slow play is something we are trying really hard to stamp out, and the sooner we get on top of it, the better.
“It is frustrating when you get stuck behind a slow group, and even more annoying if you are a fast player.
“But on the other side of the coin, the people out here are playing for their living and their careers, and one slow chap can make a big difference.
“All the slow players do exactly what Alvaro is suggesting when they see a referee, but then most really are not ready to play when it’s their turn as they haven’t got a glove on, they’re not sure of the yardage and they’re just in their own little world.”