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European Tour hails progress of pace of play policy

Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Chief executive Keith Pelley has hailed the European Tour's new pace of play policy a success after rounds during the recent 'Desert Swing' were completed up to 19 minutes quicker.

Effective from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in January, players were subjected to sustained monitoring as soon as their group was seen to be out of position on the course.

Any player who then exceeded the time allowed for a shot -- 50 seconds if first to play and 40 seconds thereafter -- was issued a ''monitoring penalty,'' with world No.1 Jordan Spieth the first recipient during his opening round in Abu Dhabi.

A total of 95 groups were monitored in the Middle East -- 36 in Abu Dhabi, 20 in Qatar and 39 in Dubai -- with Spieth, Daniel Brooks, Benjamin Hebert, Eddie Pepperell and Gavin Green the players penalised.

Further transgressions this season will result in a £2,000 fine, with fines increasing for each subsequent monitoring penalty.

"We said before our new measures were introduced in Abu Dhabi that we wanted to take the lead on pace of play and it is terrific to see the policy has had an immediate effect, even though we are still in the early stages of its implementation," Pelley said.

"I am also pleased that our members have reacted positively to this change. We are continually striving to make our product even more appealing and entertaining for our fans and this is a good starting point.

"There is no quick fix for slow play, but this new policy is aimed at empowering our referees to more effectively target the problem and I believe we will see even more inroads made over the coming weeks and months.

"It is important to note that our referees now have the ability to apply monitoring penalties if they see a player take an excessive amount of time over a shot, even if their group is in position on the course, so our players are now more aware than ever that slow play is unacceptable."

According to data collected by the European Tour during the first two rounds, the average round time in Abu Dhabi was reduced by five minutes compared to last year.

In Qatar, average times for rounds one and two were 10 and four minutes quicker respectively when compared with 2012, the last time the event was played in comparably windy conditions. The times for the last groups on the opening two days were also 19 and 14 minutes quicker respectively.

In Dubai, average times were just two minutes quicker, although the last groups were 13 minutes quicker on average.