When the Duke of York warned that slow play would be unacceptable in his 54-hole Duke of York Young Champions Trophy at Dundonald Links, the competitors took note. Playing in three balls from two tees, they mostly whipped round in just over four hours.
The opening round should have taken place on Tuesday but, with the rain horizontal and wind gusting up to 40 mph, the day’s play had to be cancelled.
Pace of play is very much in the spotlight at the moment with professionals coming under fire for setting bad examples on tour, most recently at the Bridgestone Invitational where Tiger Woods and Padraig Harrington were put on the clock.
In addressing his cosmopolitan selection of competitors – there are 57 players from 34 different countries – the Duke said that the referees would have stop-watches at the ready. “This is not just to conform with rules recommendations but because we could struggle to fit in 36 holes before nightfall,” he explained.
Tony Hill, the head referee, said that he had spoken to one group who had lost ground while searching for balls in the rough but that he was otherwise entirely satisfied with the pace of play. “They’ve definitely responded to the Duke’s call,” said Hill.
Rebecca Huber of Switzerland said that her national coach, Graham Kaye, had made it plain that there was to be no messing around. “He said we’d end up in the Tower, or something, if we wasted any time,” said Huber.
No girl has ever won the Duke of York Young Champions Trophy but all that could change at Dundonald Links as Camilla Hedberg from Spain and Laetitia Beck from Israel go into the final round with a one-shot lead over England’s Tom Lewis.
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