Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Fastest Rounds of Golf on the Pro Tours

Thomas Levet celebrated his 500th European Tour event on Sunday by finishing up the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in just 2 hours, 9 minutes. Here, the Euro Tour confirms it:

Levet, alas, was in last play entering the final round, which meant he had the first tee time. And because there was an odd number of players starting the final round, Levet played alone. Which meant he could go as fast as he wanted.

Levet let the European Tour know that he could have gone even faster:

I love playing fast myself, starting a round alone first off the tee. And like Levet, I've run into this problem:

So, 2 hours, 9 minutes in a high-level pro tour tournament. How does that rate among the fastest rounds ever played? There's no way to know for sure because none of the major pro tours keep this record.

But, for example, at the 2010 PGA Championship Jeff Overton teed off first and alone in the final round and went around Whistling Straits in 2 hours, 9 minutes - same time as Levet at the 2013 Dubai Desert Classic.

Back in 2010, the UK publication Golf Today did an article rounding up some of the fastest pro rounds for which it cound find a record. And it turns out, Levet is a piker! Two hours, 9 minutes doesn't come close to the fastest known rounds.

And those fastest-known rounds are ... Greg Norman and Mark O'Meara, 1998 Tour Championship: 1 hour, 24 minutes. This is shockingly fast, given that it was a twosome. Both shot 79 and finished at the bottom.

Why did they go so fast? Because Norman had a plane to catch. Seriously! Obviously, these two (unlike Levet) weren't really trying to play well, they just wanted to get it over with.

According to Golf Today, both Norman and O'Meara received warnings from the PGA Tour for not trying hard enough to play well. As did John Daly and Mark Calcavecchia at the 1992 Players Championship when they sped around TPC Sawgrass in 2 hours, 3 minutes.

There are also at least two instances of twosomes making it around Augusta National during The Masters in less than two hours: George Bayer/Jack Fleck (72/74) played in 1 hour 52 minutes, in 1960; and Gene Sarazen/George Fazio (70/76) played in 1 hour, 57 minutes in 1947.

Truth is, there were probably a lot of sub-2-hours rounds prior to the 1960s, when golf moved along at a much quicker pace in general. (Blame TV, Jack Nicklaus, thick rough and super-fast greens, among other factors, for slowing the game down.) And there are plenty of other similar instances of golfers like Levet going out first and alone on the final day and flying through their round. But nobody tracks this.

Do you know of other sub-2-hours rounds? If you remember one, post it in comments.

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