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The fastest rounds in professional tournament golf

Although a close eye is kept on slow play in professional tournaments (but very little done about it when it happens...), there are no official statistics for fast rounds.

Indeed they usually only come to light when players are warned or fined for playing too fast, and are deemed 'not to be trying'. This most often happens when a pairing is not in contention on the final day and go out first, with an empty course ahead of them.

This was certainly the case with the fastest round we know of, when Mark O'Meara and Greg Norman played the final round of the 1998 Tour Championship (then called the Nabisco Championship) at Pebble Beach in 1 hour 24 minutes, both scoring 79 and finishing 29th and 30th respectively, last but one and last. In his defence, Norman was trying to catch a 'plane to Australia before bad weather threatened to cancel the flight. The players received a warning, but no fine, and both went away with winnings of $32,400.

A similar case, although by comparison a slow round, occured in 1992 in the final round of the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, when John Daly and Mark Calcavecchia, both quick players even when leading a tournament, went round in 2 hours 3 minutes, scoring 80 and 81 respectively, and finishing 72nd and 73rd, last but one and last. Both were "put on notice" by the PGA Tour for "failure to exert their best effort", and ultimately fined an unknown amount. Daly had won $3,528 and Calcavecchia $3,492.

Two ultra-quick rounds are recorded in the Masters, both final rounds again, but the scores were more respectable and suggest that the players were genuinely 'trying'.

In 1947, Gene Sarazen and George Fazio shot 70 and 76 respectively, going round in 1 hour 57 minutes, and finishing tied 26th and tied 39th.

Slightly quicker, in 1960 George Bayer and Jack Fleck shot 72 and 74 in 1 hour 52 minutes, on the way to finishing tied 29th and tied 34th.

November 2010






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