Patrick Cantlay Responds To Masters Slow Play Criticism

The World No.4 has responded to criticism from Brooks Koepka on the pace of play during The Masters

Patrick Cantlay during the third round of the 2023 Masters
Patrick Cantlay has responded to criticism of slow play at The Masters
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Patrick Cantlay has responded to criticism of his group’s perceived slow play during the final round of The Masters at Augusta National.

Brooks Koepka, who finished joint runner-up in the tournament behind Jon Rahm, slammed the pace of play, saying: “The group in front of us was brutally slow. Jon went to the bathroom like seven times during the round, and we were still waiting.”

The group in question consisted of Cantlay and Viktor Hovland, with the American, in particular, suspected of slowing play down. Indeed, Hovland was seen playing shots significantly before Cantlay was close, suggesting the World No.4 had been responsible.

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According to Cantlay, though, that wasn't the case. The 31-year-old is preparing to compete in this week’s RBC Heritage at Harbour Town and, speaking ahead of the tournament, he explained there was a hold-up with the pairing in front of him, which was made up of Hideki Matsuyama and Russell Henley. 

He said: “Yeah, I mean, we finished the first hole, and the group in front of us was on the second tee when we walked up to the second tee, and we waited all day on pretty much every shot. We waited in 15 fairway, we waited in 18 fairway. I imagine it was slow for everyone.”

Despite the frustrations, Cantlay claimed that the issue of slow play is nothing new. He said: “One thing that's interesting sitting on the PAC [Player Advisory Council] is you get all the numbers and the data, and rounds have taken about the same length of time for the last 10 or 20 years that they currently take.“

He also pointed out that factors including the terrain at the course, the speed of the greens and conditions had plenty to do with it. He said: “When you play a golf course like Augusta National where all the hole locations are on lots of slope and the greens are really fast, it's just going to take longer and longer to hole out.

“I think that may have been what attributed to some of the slow play on Sunday, and then also when the wind is gusting and the wind is blowing maybe inconsistently, that's when guys will take a long time, too. I think that's just the nature of playing professional golf, where every shot matters so much.”

On the subject of shots mattering, Cantlay missed out on the RBC Heritage title in agonising fashion last year, when Jordan Spieth beat him in a playoff. That’s something he explained he’s hoping to put firmly behind him this week. He said: “For me it's always been a great tournament with lots of great champions over the years, so I'd love to have a chance to put my name up on the list.”

To do so, Cantlay will need to be at his best. The eight-time PGA Tour winner will be up against a strong field featuring 17 of the world’s top 20.

Mike Hall

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 

He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 

Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 

Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.