Golf: Heavier fines for too slow players

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The Independent Online
EUROPE'S leading players will be fined heavily if they are found guilty of slow play this year during the pounds 25m Volvo Tour which starts today with the Madeira Island Open.

Players will have to pay pounds 500 for a first offence, pounds 1,000 for a second and will then be given a pounds 1,000 fine plus a two-stroke penalty if they continue to fall foul of officials.

However, these punishments are still too low, according to Brian Barnes, the 48-year-old former Ryder Cup player, who would like see the tour tortoises given a shot penalty immediately.

'That would have much more effect,' he said. 'Even pounds 10,000 is nothing to guys making millions.'

The Briton Nick Faldo and Bernhard Langer, of Germany, were named as the two slowest players in a survey conducted on the American Tour last year.

The guideline of four hours, eight minutes for the completion of a three-ball is being extended by a minute this week.

The extra time is because of some severe climbs on the mountainside course where the 18th hole became known 12 months ago as 'Cardiac Hill'.

Mark James, who won the inaugural Madeira Island Open, is taking a break from the game and is missing from today's field along with the other 11 members of Europe's Ryder Cup side from last September. This leaves the English trio of Steve Richardson, David Gilford, Paul Broadhurst as the favourites for the pounds 41,660 winner's cheque.

Greg Norman, the Open champion from Australia, is playing in two of the first four events on the European Tour this season. Norman will make his debut in the Dubai Desert Classic from 27 to 30 January and will then compete in the Johnnie Walker Classic in Phuket, Thailand, from 3 to 6 February, where Nick Faldo is the defending champion.