Brooks Koepka’s attempts to win a second major of the year and fifth in total faded as the American struggled his way around Royal Portrush in brutally harsh weather conditions, but his mood was not helped by his playing partner.
Compatriot JB Holmes by all accounts was having a day to forget, with the 36-hole leader plummeting down the leaderboard in a downward spiral that showed no signs of stopping.
By the time Holmes walked off the 14th green, the American had gone eleven-over-par for the day, and having started at 10-under, he now found himself incredibly the wrong side of par.
It would only get worse though, as brief respite in the form of a par on 15 was followed by a bogey on 16, a double-bogey on 17 and a fourth double-bogey of the round on the 18th and final hole. Had Holmes held on to third place, he would have taken home $718,000 in prize money, but the round of 87 not only qualified as the highest final round of The Open in Lew Taylor in 1966, but left him with $25,650 – a loss of $692,350 across four painful hours.
But what appeared to frustrate Koepka the most was the speed – or lack of it – of Holmes’ play.
Notoriously one of the slowest players on tour, Holmes took 10 practice swings on the opening tee, addressing the ball and backing away twice before finally getting his final round underway. In total, he took more than a minute to select what club he would begin with, only to proceed to his opening shot out of bounds and record the first of two double-bogeys.
Worse would come at the 11th as he scored a triple-bogey seven on the par-four hole.
And it took until the 12th green for that frustration to boil over, with Koepka pointing to an imaginary watch on his wrist in the direction of the match official as he lost his patience with how slow Holmes was playing.
The frustration was not a surprise in the slightest, given how outspoken Koepka has been in the past with slow play. And he waited until after the round before criticising Holmes directly when asked about his unhappiness.
"When it's your turn to hit, your glove is not on, then you start thinking about it," Koepka said. "That's where the problem lies. It's not that he takes that long. He doesn't do anything until it's his turn. That's the frustrating part. But he's not the only one that does it out here."
In January this year, the four-time major winner said it was “kind of embarrassing” with how slow some of his opponents were completing their rounds, in reference to criticism of Bryson DeChambeau following his win in Dubai.
“I just don’t understand how it takes a minute and 20 seconds, a minute and 15 seconds to hit a golf ball. It’s not that hard,” Koepka said.
“It’s always between two clubs. There’s a miss short, there’s a miss long. It really drives me nuts, especially when it’s a long hitter because you know you’ve got two other guys, or at least one guy that’s hitting before you, so you can do all your calculations. You should have your numbers.
“If it’s a calm day, there’s no excuse. Guys are already so slow, it’s kind of embarrassing. I just don’t get why you enforce some things and don’t enforce others.”
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