Adrian Meronk given rare slow play penalty that costs him £200,000

Adrian Meronk - Meronk given rare slow play penalty that costs him £200,000
The sanction saw Adrian Meronk drop from a share of fifth with Jon Rahm into a six-way share for sixth - Getty Images/Francois Nel

Do not tell Adrian Meronk that LIV Golf is little more than “an exhibition”. On Sunday in Jeddah, the Pole learned exactly how serious the league’s referees take their duties when he was hit with a one-shot penalty for slow play that cost him roughly £200,000.

The no-nonsense sanction, which saw Meronk drop from a share of fifth with Jon Rahm into a six-way share for sixth and thus hit his prize-money earnings, was in sharp contrast to how the pros are treated on the PGA Tour.

The last time a golfer was punished for slow play in an individual tournament run by the US circuit was in 1995, when Glen “All” Day fell foul of the stopwatch (although John Catlin was penalised at the 2021 USPGA Championship).

In the intervening years, countless players – ranging from Tiger Woods to Rory McIlroy to Brooks Koepka – have stressed the need for the rules to be followed, but the Sawgrass officials have shown an indifference to a problem that many believe is one of the scourges of the modern game.

LIV seems rather more concerned with the issue. Last year at Valderrama, England’s Richard Bland was hit with a shot penalty for the same offence.

This is not the first time Meronk’s group was put on the clock during the $25 million (£19.8 million) 54-hole event at the Royal Greens Country Club. In the final round, the threeball – also including Rahm and Kevin Na – were informed after eight holes that they had fallen behind; six holes later, they had lost yet more ground on the group in front and a rules official began to time their shots.

On the par-five 18th – the group’s 16th – Meronk took more than two minutes to play his second, easily exceeding the allotted time. A player has 40 seconds to play each stroke with an additional 10 seconds if they are the first to play. A LIV statement said: “Meronk was immediately notified by the official and assessed a one-stroke penalty.” Thus his birdie became a par.

If LIV is commendably strict about slow play, they are turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to their players’ tantrums and refusing to follow the PGA Tour’s lead in issuing fines. During the second round, Rahm screamed an obscenity after missing a shot, forcing the TV commentator to issue an apology. There will be no punishment.

Rahm will be disappointed with his finish after holding the first-round lead with an eight-under 62. Over the last two rounds he could advance his score to only 10 under, leaving him seven behind Joaquin Niemann.

This was the Chilean’s second LIV win in the three events so far in 2024 and, after his win in the Australian Open in December, this $4 million (£3.1 million) success further identified the 25-year-old as one of the game’s in-form players with the Masters just five weeks away.

At the other end of the leaderboard, Anthony Kim shot a 74 to finish on 16 over. This was Kim’s first competitive appearance for 12 years.