During the final round of the U.S. Open Championship on Sunday evening, Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell were still trudging through their respective rounds in the hope of securing a major victory over Webb Simpson, who had finished his round at one over-par for the tournament. Then a funny thing happened to both men: Their final grouping received two warnings for slow play by tournament officials.
First and foremost, let me just say that the pressure of competing in and potentially winning a U.S. Open trophy is more than enough to cause a golfer to play a little more "cautiously." Likewise, that same pressure likely caused both Furyk and McDowell to come up short in the final holes and allowed Simpson's incredible 68 hold up for the victory.
But it is also worth noting that heading into the final round, Graeme McDowell and Jim Furyk were ranked first and second in driving accuracy on the PGA Tour. These men simply keep the ball in the fairway more often than not, and did so throughout their U.S. Open week (hence their respective positions on Sunday).
However, their group received the first slow-play warning on the front nine of their final round. While groups receive a bit of a "push" every so often to keep pace of play moving (and to appease television networks and broadcast schedules), warning the final group is a bit odd. But, rules are rules. Both Furyk and McDowell seemed to falter slightly in driving accuracy shortly thereafter.
Then the second slow-play warning came late into the pairing's back nine, along with the caveat that if another warning was to be given, both men would be put "on the clock," which could potentially lead to penalty strokes.
To suggest that Furyk and McDowell -- two men who usually have no issues with keeping up pace-of-play during tournaments -- may have felt rushed toward the end of their round yesterday is purely speculation. However, compounding the pressure of a U.S. Open final round with the watchful eyes (and stopwatch) of a tournament official very well could have thrown these two accurate players off their game.