BARCLAYS CLASSIC Players react to slow round
Leader Furyk said the pace worked for him; Singh said it ruins the rhythm of play.
HARRISON, N.Y. (AP) -- Vijay Singh's temper was a lot shorter than his round.
After taking more than five hours to complete his Thursday morning round in the Barclays Classic, the second-ranked Singh blasted PGA Tour rules officials for allowing slow players to reduce the pace to a crawl.
"It's slow. It's always slow here. It's ridiculous," Singh said. "I mean you play a round of golf in five hours and wait on every shot. It's just like the officials are just blind. You don't see one out there. It ruins the rhythm of the play."
The big Fijian had little to say about the 3-under 68 that left him three strokes behind first-round leader Jim Furyk, choosing instead to rant about the slow play on the hilly, tree-lined Westchester Country Club course.
"Every shot out there on the front nine, you had to wait," Singh said. "You get fed up with it. I don't know if anybody ever withdrew after nine holes for slow play ..."
Under the tour's 2 1/2-year-old policy, players are considered to be on the clock when their group is out of position -- defined by an open hole ahead of them. The 10th time a player is put on the clock during the year results in a $20,000 fine.
Players are allowed 40 seconds for each shot, and given an extra 20 seconds in some situations such as teeing off first on a par-3 hole. Players are supposed to be warned after one bad time, penalized a stroke and fined $5,000 for two bad times, penalized two strokes and fined $10,000 for three bad times and disqualified for four bad times.
"If the officials don't do anything about it, then the guys are going to take more time," Singh said. "And when you talk to the officials, they think we're actually trying to bark at them. ... It just messes you up."
Furyk birdied the final two holes for a back-nine 30 after three-putting the par-5 ninth for the lone bogey in his round of 65.
"Today was one of the slow rounds of the year. It seemed to work for me for some reason," said Furyk, the 2003 U.S. Open champion who is back in top form after missing five months last season because of a wrist injury.
"I took advantage of the holes where I had wedges in my hands. There were some very tough pin placements."
Singh, the 1993 and 1995 Westchester champion, was tied with Kenny Perry, John Rollins, Ian Leggatt, Brian Bateman and Hidemichi Tanaka.
Sergio Garcia, the 2001 and 2004 winner, opened with a 72, ending his streak of rounds of par or better in the event at 19. He bogeyed the final four holes.
"I just kind of got out of it coming in," Garcia said. "Tomorrow's a new day."
U.S. Amateur champion Ryan Moore shot a 71 in his professional debut, while amateur rival Spencer Levin, playing his second event as a pro, had an 80.
Singh's sharp criticism came two weeks after Rory Sabbatini putted out of turn on the 17th hole in the Booz Allen Classic in frustration over partner Ben Crane's slow play. The speedy Sabbatini, warned along with Crane for slow play earlier in the round, also stormed to the 18th tee before Crane finished No. 17.
Sabbatini shot a 79 Thursday in his first competitive round on the course since losing to Garcia last year on the third hole of a playoff.
"It's a short course that has tough pins. It's understandable for the whole field to be slow," Sabbatini said.
Rollins played in the second group off the 10th tee, two groups ahead of Singh's threesome and behind J.P. Hayes, Paul Goydos and Patrick Sheehan.
"You have to go out there and just not let it bother you," Rollins said. "It does get frustrating at times, but it is what it is. You just have to deal with it."