Golf: Burns and Westner given one-shot penalty for slow play

Raymond Burns and South African's Wayne Westner were both penalised a shot and fined pounds 500 at the Johnnie Walker Classic here yesterday as the European Tour began the season with a crackdown on slow play, Burns for taking 12 seconds too long to play a stroke and Westner 51 seconds.

It did not affect the leaderboard. While the defending champion, Ernie Els, the Dane Thomas Bjorn, German Alexander Cejka and Thailand's Prayad Marksaeng shot five-under-par 67s to share the lead, Westner returned a 79 and Burns an 82.

Nick Faldo and Lee Westwood were timed as well after falling behind the group ahead, but avoided a penalty as they both scored 71, one better than the world No 1, Tiger Woods, and two better than the 1996 winner, Ian Woosnam.

Colin Montgomerie and Greg Norman - neither playing this week - were among those who called for tougher action on slow play last year, throughout which just one player was penalised a shot. Burns, however, was "horrified" at being labelled a snail. "There has never been any question in my life of me being a slow player. This is just unbelievable," he said.

The chief referee, John Paramor, is determined to act, however. He said: "Every member of the tour was sent a memo containing the new guidelines on slow play before Christmas and were informed again on the noticeboard this week and on the first tee.

"Players are now timed without being warned and if they have one bad time they're told that one more breach will be penalised."

Burns, already four over par after eight holes, was docked a shot on the ninth, while Westner, having turned in two over, was immediately told of his costly transgression on the 10th. Another player, the Swede Peter Heblom, suffered a four-stroke penalty, for starting out with an extra club in his bag, an error discovered on the third.

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