Spieth perplexed by slow-play warning


Jordan Spieth was perplexed to be given a warning for slow play in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship on Thursday.

The world number one was deemed to have taken too long with a putt on the eighth - his penultimate hole of the day - under new regulations implemented by the European Tour.

Spieth was issued with a monitoring penalty by chief referee John Paramor before carding a four-under 68, playing in a star-studded group which included Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler, to take a share of seventh place at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

The two-time major winner said: "It was a bit odd. The guys behind us hadn't even reached the fairway on a par-five. So it didn't make any sense to me.

"Rory and Rickie were very surprised. He [Paramor] just came up and said you have got this and I said 'okay, I'll just move on with the hole.'

"For it to be the last putt when they are 15 minutes behind us and we're off the hole, it didn't make any sense to me. I believe I was going over the time. I read the putt from behind the hole, looked up and couldn't even see the group behind us at the tee box.

"So then I called Michael [Greller, his caddie] over and said 'We've got time, let's try and nail this thing down' because we had been on the clock for a number of holes.

"I understand that, if you are being timed and you are taking longer than the allotted time, you get a bad time. I understand the rule.

"But it doesn't make a whole lot of sense when our group had caught up with the one in front, we were coming off the clock and it had no effect on the round. It's a bit of a grey area. I didn't fight it. I was respectful about it."

European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said in a statement on the organisation's website: "As I said last year, slow play is a critical part of our game and we are determined to take the lead in combatting it. This initiative is the first step.

"Our new policy will help identify the slow players and will allow our faster players, who have never had a problem, to feel less pressured by the rules officials.

"We believe this measure will help keep groups in position on the golf course and, in doing that, shave up to 15 minutes per group per round. This will help make golf more appealing and engaging to our fans, both at the course itself or watching on television."

Amateur Bryson DeChambeau will head into Friday's second round with a one-shot lead over Henrik Stenson after an impressive opening eight-under 64, while McIlroy is tied for third on six under.