Golf’s debate around pace of play is showing no signs of slowing.
Two weeks after being disqualified from the Evian Championship for refusing to add a slow play penalty to her scorecard, Carlota Ciganda has upped the tempo at the Women’s Open – but is not conceding defeat in the defense of her game speed.
The Spanish golf star slammed the “very poor” performance of LPGA Tour rules officials after her early exit from the French major, claiming they did not “understand what professional golf is about” in an Instagram story.
Speaking to reporters after her opening round at Walton Heath Golf Club in Surrey, England, on Thursday, Ciganda admitted she had upped her pace around the greens but questioned the “subjective” nature of slow play penalties.
“You have to understand that it’s professional golf and we are playing for a living and sometimes majors, if you hit it in the rough or a bad situation, it’s going to take longer,” said Ciganda, who opened with a two-under 70, two shots short of the round-best score.
“If you make a bogey, it’s just a couple more minutes, so I think they should understand that a bit more.
“They always say the time starts when it’s your turn to play, but when is that? It’s just so subjective. I think in the end, if they put a referee in every group, a lot of girls, they will be penalized and I think sometimes it’s not fair.”
While Ciganda – who was also hit with a slow play penalty at a 2021 match play event – admitted she could play faster, the 33-year-old argued that other slower players on tour were not being penalized to the same extent.
“At the end of the day, I’m here to play golf and I’m trying to do my best. I think I am a nice person and I respect everyone when I play, so I just hope they can do the same with me,” Ciganda said.
“I know I’m not quick, I know that there are a lot of quicker players out there, but I think there are a lot of slow players and they don’t get penalized and they don’t get timed as much as I do, so I don’t think that’s fair.”
Korda defends rules
On the eve of the tournament, world No. 1 Nelly Korda offered a defense of slow play penalties being imposed.
The American, regarded as one of the LPGA Tour’s faster players, said the R&A and USGA’s Rules of Golf guidelines – which maintain golfers should aim to play a shot within 40 seconds – were necessary.
“I really like Carlota. She’s a great person. I enjoy playing with her,” Korda told reporters.
“I am a fast player, but I would say at the end of the day, The Rules of Golf are The Rules of Golf, and it’s good that it’s being enforced.
“If I’m being honest, if I was a spectator and I was out here for five-and-a-half hours to six hours, it’s tough to watch. You want to watch a sport that’s continuously moving and not continuously stalling. I would say I think it’s really important for the rules officials to enforce The Rules of Golf.
“I would say that, sometimes, it does throw off your rhythm as a golfer to play with someone that’s a little slower. But you just kind of have to adapt and play your best with the situation at hand.”
Chasing a second major title, Korda opened with a frustrating one-over 73 that left her five shots adrift of compatriot and first round leader Ally Ewing.
Ewing surges clear
World no. 39 Ewing accelerated with a stunning Friday showing, a run of four consecutive birdies firing her towards a six-under 66 second round and lifting her to 10-under overall.
The 30-year-old has recorded top-20 finishes at all five majors but has never finished inside the top-five at any of the flagship events.
Yet Ewing is battling more than just a star-studded field in Surrey. The Mississippi-born golfer was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes shortly after gaining her LPGA Tour card in 2016 and carries a device with her on the course to monitor her blood sugar.
“It’s tough. Some days are tougher than others, but it’s manageable,” Ewing told reporters Friday.
“It’s something that I have to be aware of on a golf course, not just my golf, which can sometimes be a little distracting … I don’t feel spikes as much. The lows, I can feel pretty loopy. I can feel shaky. It honestly changes every time. Like I might not always feel like that. Sometimes, I just feel very fatigued all of a sudden.
“I keep Gatorade in my golf bag, take six ounces or so to get it to come back up and stay on top of my snacks and stuff.”