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Bryson DeChambeau on slow play: Criticize me ‘to my face’

Bryson DeChambeau saw the videos go viral on social media Saturday morning, before he teed off for the third round of The Northern Trust.

He saw the countless tweets from fans and even some from fellow players, criticizing him for slow play.

And he clearly was thinking about it all day at Liberty National, because when he walked off the course he had a lot to say.

"Let's talk about slow play, guys," a clearly fired-up DeChambeau said, launching into a 16-minute interview session in which he defended his pace of play and criticized his fellow players for not having the courage to confront him in person. "When people start talking to me about slow play and how I'm killing the game, I'm doing this and that to the game, that is complete and utter you-know-what. That's not fair."

DeChambeau is viewed as one of the game's rising stars. But he became the biggest story in the sport Saturday, not for contending – he's eight shots behind leader Patrick Reed – but for taking too long to play.

The 25-year-old has been roundly criticized for his pace of play over the past couple of years. But it turned into an avalanche of negativity Saturday morning, when two videos of DeChambeau taking more than two minutes to hit shots, went viral.

He admitted that he can take a lot of time over a shot. But and that "maybe five percent of the time" he takes over the allotted 40 seconds to hit the ball. But he said that he actually plays faster than most people realize because he walks to the ball so quickly, and then takes his time before hitting the ball.

"I'll tell you that it's really kind of unfortunate the way it's perceived because there's a lot of other guys that take a lot of time," DeChambeau said. "They don't talk about this matter (of walking faster) and for me personally, it is an attack and it is something that is not me whatsoever. People don't realize the harm that they are doing to the individuals."

DeChambeau has used the walking fast argument before. And it's not one his peers agree with.

"Absolutely not," Justin Thomas said. "It's not going to matter if you walk fast to your ball and you're still a hole and a half behind. ... I like Bryson as a person, but he's a slow golfer. There's a lot of people that I like, that they're just slow. It's nothing against them."

Thomas played with DeChambeau in the second round on Friday, when his slow play became the hottest topic on golf Twitter.

One video showing DeChambeau taking nearly two-and-a-half minutes to line up and hit a putt on the eight hole at Liberty National had more than a million views Saturday afternoon, and virtually every comment was critical of DeChambeau.

Several players even called him out for the slow play, including Luke Donald, Ross Fisher and Ian Poulter.

European Tour player Eddie Pepperell called DeChambeau a "single-minded twit" in one of the posts.

DeChambeau called Peperrell's comments "not fair," and pointed out that several of the players who ripped him didn't qualify for the event.

"They are sitting on their couches, tweeting," DeChambeau said. "It is what it is. Look, they are great individuals. I'm not going to say anything bad about them. My competitors here on Tour, they have all been nice to me and I don't have any issues with any of them. We are all trying to do our best to play well and make our livelihoods and win tournaments.

"But when you start personally attacking people on Twitter, it's like, come on, dude. Let's have some more – I was going to say something else, but let's have some more balls to come up and speak to me to my face about that."

Thomas took a shot at DeChambeau, admitting "it was hard" to wait the full two-plus minutes for the putt on the eighth hole. The video showed a clearly exasperated Thomas growing more annoyed as DeChambeau took longer and longer to line up the putt.

"I mean, it's every hole, so pick a hole," Johnson said, admitting his frustration. "I mean, yeah, some shots are worse than others. ... I definitely could have said something there but I was done with the hole, I was pretty much just sitting on the side of the green just waiting for him to finish, but that's something where if I feel that strongly about it I don't need to hide behind it, I can be a man about it. But I think it's pretty well known – but it's not just him, it's a lot of people – how people feel about slow play."

Slow play has become the hot button topic in golf, as DeChambeau found out when he opened his Twitter feed Saturday morning. DeChambeau called the criticism on social media "hurtful" and admitted it affected him during his round.

"100 percent, I took it straight to the course," DeChambeau said. "I was trying to play my best today, despite that, and there are certain times you think about it and you just throw it out of the way and you can't do much about it."

DeChambeau said he was "almost sprinting" between shots. He shot an even-par 71 and is tied for 24th place at 6-under par. Andrew Landry, who played in the group behind Dechambeau, said he never waited during the round.

Despite all the criticism, DeChambeau clearly doesn't plan on changing his style. He's going to keep using most of his allotted time, and sometimes more for a really tough shot.

He called both the videos that went viral: "just what's going to happen every once in a while. ... That's probably one percent of the time, that I take over two minutes.

"You look at me, most of the time, I am doing my absolute best to get to that next shot. The time to hurry for me and the way I play the game, this is not always how some people view it, but the time to hurry is in between shots."

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