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July 20, 2013

David Rickman


MIKE WOODCOCK: I have David Rickman the R & A Director of Rules and Equipment Standards with me. He's here to discuss this afternoon's rules incident. We're going to take questions in English first of all, and then if we have questions in Japanese, we'll have an interpreter to assist, if you can leave that to the second part of this press conference. So I guess if I can open the floor to questions first of all in English, please.

Q. David, in talking about Hideki and Johnson Wagner, they both felt that the penalty was not justified, they both felt that Hideki had taken adequate time to try to deal with the situation he was in. Could you explain why you didn't feel that way?
DAVID RICKMAN: Thank you, you're quite right. Both players made that point quite clearly in the recorder's hut when I went and joined them at the end of their round. The timing was conducted by a very experienced European Tour official. I talked to him about the circumstances, particularly of the second bad time, which was the second shot to the 17th hole. He explained that he gave Hideki time to deal with -- I think there was a ball into the crowd -- deal with the spectator. He then walked forward to look at the stroke he had, he then walked back to his ball, and the timing official allowed all of that to happen before the watch was started. So we feel that we were appropriately liberal with the starting of the timing procedure Nick, and then the stroke itself took two minutes 12 to play, which is well over twice the allotted time. So in the circumstances I confirmed to both players that I could see no reason to waive that bad time and, therefore, a penalty stroke was appropriate.

Q. Has there been any other incidents of bad timing that's come close in this tournament? Have you been pretty strict about slow play?
DAVID RICKMAN: This week we've certainly had a number of groups get out of position. We've had our rovers do a considerable amount of timing. There have been single bad times, but obviously as this is the first one-stroke penalty to be applied this week. Hideki Matsuyama is the first player to have received two bad times this week.

Q. I was going to ask, how frequently have one stroke penalties been given in The Open for slow play? And when was the last one?
DAVID RICKMAN: It's not unprecedented. I believe we have applied a one-stroke penalty before. I'm afraid I'm literally fresh off the golf course. I haven't had a chance to prepare. We may have to ask our media team to confirm that to you. But my understanding is that it's not the first one stroke penalty in the history The Open Championship.

Q. Graeme McDowell also seemed pretty unhappy earlier that he was put on the clock on the 5th and then taken off at the end of it. He thinks that the officials were being a bit trigger happy. He said there's a difference between bad play and slow play, and that you're being a bit too tight in that respect.
DAVID RICKMAN: I obviously haven't witnessed the circumstances of that particular timing. But what I would say is that I have every confidence with the timing officials that we have here. They are the senior officials from both the PGA Tour in America and the European Tour. They're very experienced. This is what they do for a job, and therefore, I have no reason to doubt that. In the circumstances it was appropriate to put that group on the clock. What we found is, in recent years, is that if you can put a group on the clock and deal with it straight away it may be that they are timed for one hole, but it then means that they are back in position. It stops it becoming a bigger problem later on. And that's what we want to achieve. We want to get players back into position quickly.

Q. (No microphone.)
DAVID RICKMAN: Well, we're certainly not in the business of unsettling players, but we have our pace of play policy, similar to all professional tours for a reason, and that is to get players around in a reasonable amount of time. And if players keep up with the group in front, then they will not be subject to timing.

Q. First, if you can tell us who the European Tour official was that gave the bad time? And then secondly, can you confirm, A, that the group in front of Hideki and Johnson were actually put on the clock earlier? And, B, can you also confirm that when with Hideki received the penalty, that the group behind them was actually a hole behind?
DAVID RICKMAN: Okay. The name of the official who conducted the timing was David Probyn, tournament director at the PGA European Tour, very experienced European rules official. The group ahead were being timed, you're correct. They were being timed at the time and the group behind may well have been not hard up on the Matsuyama group, that is possible. And if they weren't, they would certainly be under scrutiny from the timing officials. But obviously for the Wagner-Matsuyama group, the position of the group behind is not their concern, they need to keep up with the group head ahead of them. That's their responsibility. That's what the policy requires.

Q. At what point was Hideki actually told that he was being given a one-stroke penalty? And was it explained to him in Japanese? Did he fully understand it?
DAVID RICKMAN: Yes, obviously the first bad time was on the 15th hole on the 15th green. So he would have been advised of that bad time, and he would have been advised that a further bad time would result in a one-stroke penalty. We had a Japanese observer with the game, who is the chairman of the Japan Golf Association's Rules of Golf Committee, and he acted as the interpreter for the player. And therefore, I can confirm that the player was fully aware of the circumstances that he was in.

Q. Can you just give us a rough estimate of how long a round is supposed to take here? Have you got an exact time for it? Just give us a flavor of exactly how long the timing is supposed to be, if you can?
DAVID RICKMAN: Time par for today and tomorrow, when players are in two balls is a total time of three hours 41 minutes. That is obviously divided per hole, and each hole is given an individual hole. So we have, as it were, a cumulative record that we look at on a hole-by-hole basis. And this particular group were 15 minutes over schedule when they were put on the clock, having lost time on the two previous holes after they had been advised that they were out of position and needed to speed up. So in those circumstances where they are both over the time limit that's applied, but also out of position in terms of their position on the golf course in relation to the group ahead of them. Those are the circumstances in which the players are subject to individual timing.

MIKE WOODCOCK: We'll now have questions in Japanese.

Q. Do you explain that it was your understanding that the rules pace in the group, the Japanese person who was with Matsuyama explained to him at the time and warned him that he was behind? However, when I actually talked to Matsuyama, he said he wasn't understanding. So there's obviously a language barrier and also the explanation was not properly through to Matsuyama. So as R & A what is your opinion on this point, because the message wasn't put across to him?
DAVID RICKMAN: Well, my understanding is that the position, the rules position, was made clear to the player. If there was something lost in translation, clearly that is regrettable. But certainly when I talked to Hideki Matsuyama in the recording office after the round, he did not raise that particular point with me at that time.

Q. How many minutes was there between Matsuyama's group and the previous group? How many minutes was there? And also Matsuyama said that there was no group behind them. So what should be the gap in between?
DAVID RICKMAN: In terms of their position on the golf course, they are required to play to the time par or at least keep up with the group in front. The group was 15 minutes over the time par, but more crucially in those circumstances, they were four minutes out of position with the group ahead of them. And that is why they went on the clock. The position of the group behind them is not relevant to the condition, but it is obviously something that our rovers would have been monitoring at the time.

Q. What did you say about four minutes?
DAVID RICKMAN: They were four minutes out of position with the group ahead of them.

Q. Was the previous group delayed, as well?
DAVID RICKMAN: The previous group were being timed, yes.

Q. On air it says that on the second shot on 17, which was the two minutes, 12 seconds, would the situation ever change if a lie was different? If for example, it was in the rough and he could take a little bit longer?
DAVID RICKMAN: Well, certainly our timing rovers will take account of a particularly difficult stroke and in particular they will, in those circumstances, give the player more time to assess the stroke before they start the watch. And I can confirm that that did happen on this occasion. We gave Hideki Matsuyama time to, I believe, sort out the situation, having hit the ball into the crowd. He then walked up to look at the stroke that he had. He then came back, and in all of the circumstances the timing official gave him all of that time before he started timing. So all of that was done, but it still took two hours 12 minutes from that point for the stroke to be played.

Q. Because it's a group that was 15 minutes over the scheduled time, so does that not apply to Matsuyama as well in terms of being behind, if you see what I mean, does it make sense?
DAVID RICKMAN: In terms of both players in the group, both players in the group are subject to individual timing. But the other player, Johnson Wagner, did not have any bad times, and therefore, there is no penalty for him.

MIKE WOODCOCK: Thank you very much.

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