Webb Simpson on rules issue: “It’s killing our game”

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Webb Simpson says rules are ‘killing our game’ while McIlroy brands slow play an ‘epidemic’ at Players Championship

The Players Championship was not without its fair share of rules drama. Harold Varner III was assessed a two-shot penalty after their was a problem with his driver earlier in the week, but it was Webb Simpson’s unfortunate luck on the 14th hole during his final round that grabbed the headlines as he called out the rules for ‘killing our game’.

When Simpson approached his ball off the green, his putter got caught up in his shirt, and as a result, his ball ended up moving “a quarter of an inch”.

After an official gave Simpson a one-stroke penalty for violating Rule 9.4b, the defending champion later criticised the rules, citing that intent to break a rule should play a much bigger part.

“I’m going to be loud and clear, we have to get intent into the rules. We have to. Because it’s killing our game when it comes to these kind of things,” said Simpson. “What they try to say is either it’s hard to write the rule with intent or you open it up for gray area.

“I think it’s actually the opposite. There’s no advantage. My putter hit my clothes, it moved it a quarter inch, I’m going to move it back. So I’m just I’m hoping that somehow or another intent can get broadened.”

If it had been on the green, one of the new rules would allow him to replace it without penalty. 

But he wasn’t the only one to hit out at the rules this week. Back to the more regular ‘killing the game’ debate, McIlroy one again called on the Tour to do something about slow play, branding it an ‘epidemic’.

There was no light left for Anirban Lahiri had to finish out round 1 on Thursday, and when eventual champion McIlroy was asked about finishing in the fading light after a near six-hour round on Friday, he said he thinks the Tour needs to get tougher and start handing out penalties. 

“They don’t do anything about it,” said McIlroy, who is known as one of the quicker players on the PGA Tour. “It’s become somewhat of an epidemic on Tour. Look, it’s our livelihoods, and people are going to take their time, and as the course dries up and gets firmer and gets tougher, guys are going to take their time.

“But the fact that someone didn’t finish yesterday, just being through daylight savings and the tee times and someone had to come out today because there wasn’t enough light to finish, I mean, that’s unacceptable.

“What time is it right now? This is five hours and 40 minutes after our tee time. I get that it can take five hours to play out there, but it shouldn’t take any over that. Honestly, I think they should just being a little tougher and start penalising shots earlier, and that would be an easy way to fix it.”

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