Shots have been docked and fines imposed, but the pace of play on the LPGA is still not good enough for Women’s Scottish Open champion Stacey Lewis.
Lewis was outspoken about slow play even when she won at The Renaissance last year. Despite greater attention to the problem, she thinks more stringent measures need to be taken.
The former Women’s Open champion is defending his Scottish title at Dumbarnie Links this week.She expects the difficulty of the new course near Colinsburgh in Fife to result in long times again, but that’s no excuse.
‘That was harsh, but I’m okay with it’
“Maybe it’s gotten a little better,” she conceded. “I know there’s been more fines and more penalties have been given out over the last year.”
But she think what happened to European Solheim Cup player Carlota Ciganda, penalised with a loss of a hole in a LPGA matchplay event that resulted in her losing her match, is what needs to be done.
“I mean, that was harsh,” said Lewis. “Everyone initially was, wow. I don’t know if she was out of position or not, but it looks harsh to the media and everybody on the outside.
“But I do think we need that. Because you start playing with shots that affects where you are on the leaderboard, affects how much money you’re making. It affects your status at the end of the year.
“That affects things a lot more than $1,000 spot fine does ultimately. I’m okay with it and I’d like to see more of it.”
‘She is going to play better if she plays faster’
This makes all the work worth it! ❤️ @LadiesScottish pic.twitter.com/tJQXJYCFT3
— Stacy Lewis (@Stacy_Lewis) September 2, 2020
Lewis raised the issue after playing in the final group last year with Jennifer Song and Azahara Munoz, and was initially worried she might get a backlash.
“I was a little bit worried talking about it, but the response was actually great,” she said. “People said, `I’m so happy you talked about it. I’m so glad you put it out there that things need to get better’.
“Aza actually came up to me and asked how she could get better, how she could speed herself up. I thought that was pretty cool, kind of taking ownership of it. Probably realising she is going to play better if she does play faster.”
Lewis is well-placed to judge on how slow play has become endemic on the LPGA. Women’s Open champion at the Old Course in 2013, prior to Nelly Korda’s rise she was the last American player to be World No 1.
‘That is how the game should be played’
What a group 🏌️♀️
— Ladies European Tour (@LETgolf) August 11, 2021
“The best way to put it is when I first came out on Tour, there were a handful of slow players. Now there’s a handful of fast players,” she said.
“As a tour, we need to make this game more enjoyable, make it more fun to watch. With Covid-19 and all that, we could potentially be losing people coming to tournaments, losing eyeballs watching us.
“I would like to see us be on the forefront of making the game faster and making it more fun.
“The guys I played in the pro-am with today, one is a member at Crail. He said their time limit is three hours. I mean, granted, greens to tees are really close there, it’s a short walk.
“But that’s how the game should be played.”
‘Links golf suits me and my personality’
— Trust Golf Women's Scottish Open (@Womens_Scottish) August 11, 2021
Lewis has also been a stalwart of the US Solheim Cup team. After injury caused an 11th hour withdrawl at Gleneagles two years ago, she’s doubly determined to make the team this year.
“I really want to play,” she said. “The way things went in Scotland for me, it being in Toledo where I was born. I have a ton of family there, it would really mean a lot.
“But I love playing here. The golf course is going to play different every day you see it. I love how much more creative you can be here.
“And I think just my toughness helps, you have to be tough here. You’re going to play in the elements at some point and you have to love it.
“I think there’s a lot of people that are taken out of the tournaments because they don’t love playing in the rain and the wind. It suits me and my personality, I guess.”