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Last five PGA Tour winners have been unremarkable . . . but what is wrong with that?

It's nice to get away now and again.

Steven Bowditch - the world No.339 - celebrates winning the Valero Texas Open, his maiden PGA Tour win. Picture: PA
Steven Bowditch - the world No.339 - celebrates winning the Valero Texas Open, his maiden PGA Tour win. Picture: PA

Plodding about on quaint, cobbled streets, leaning reflectively on railings, shuffling around a variety of cathedrals that you could easily do at home but don't because, well, they are at home, and pointing curiously at a crabbit auld Portuguese fishwife hanging her bloomers out the window to dry as the open-top sightseeing bus rumbles by below.

Yes, nothing beats a quiet, simple holiday; those largely uneventful, relaxing sojourns that end with you coming home with a mildly sun-burned neck and a fairly modest anecdote about ordering that thing in the rustic restaurant that you thought was one thing but ended up being the other thing amid a bumbling frenzy of confused hand gestures, broken English, shrugging shoulders and smiling, awkward acceptance.

At least ordering something in a continental eatery is easier than predicting the fare that is being served up in the world of golf at the moment. It is the first day of April but mad March made fools out of many of us. With the Masters looming on the horizon, it may not be green jackets we'll be talking about but strait-jackets.

Last month's "Florida Swing" - a quartet of tournaments in which the game's big guns usually manoeuvre themselves into position and send out warning shots ahead of the first major of the season - raised more eyebrows than a foreign menu in the shaking hands of a linguistically challenged golf correspondent.

Last year, for instance, Tiger Woods won two of the four to work everyone into an excited lather. This season, the winners were Russell Henley, John Senden, Patrick Reed and Matt Every.

Even a switch of state has done nothing to alter the current state of the nation. Steven Bowditch's maiden victory in the Valero Texas Open on Sunday night continued these tales of the unexpected. With just more than a week until it all kicks off in Augusta, the leading seven players on the final 2013 world rankings - a posse which had claimed three of the four major titles last year - have played almost 40 events among them in 2014 and have yet to register a victory while recording barely a handful of top-five finishes.

To add to the general air of uncertainty, the upper echelons of the global pecking order resemble a doctor's groaning waiting room.

Woods, the world No.1, has a bad back, Jason Day has a sair thumb, Phil Mickelson withdrew in Texas with a strained muscle and Justin Rose is struggling with a bout of tendonitis. Throw in the final day collapses of Rory McIlroy at the Honda Classic and Adam Scott in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and the various members of golf's magnificent seven have looked more like the Keystone Cops.

Parity, it seems, is alive and kicking on the PGA circuit at the moment and that is something we should savour. For some odd reason, observers prefer to ask "what's gone wrong with golf?" when there is no sign of a dominant stranglehold instead of relishing in the freedom and openness that is becoming the norm. Yes, the masses all want a mouth-watering major championship where the top half-dozen players in the world are fighting cheek-to-jowl on the back nine come Sunday but the reality is that there are no guarantees in these times of great strength in depth.

When the aforementioned Reed, who has never played in a major before, insisted after a third tour victory in 14 events that "I'm one of the top five players in the world", many scoffed at his perceived cockiness but his sentiments simply illustrated the renewed sense of purpose, optimism and confidence across the spectrum. Players are not just wanting to win every week. The vast majority of them now truly believe that they can and that can only be good for the game.

Not so good, however, was the time it took for the final group of Bowditch, Matt Kuchar and Andrew Loupe to complete the closing 18 holes of Sunday's Texas shoot-out. Okay, so the course was playing a formidable 7500 yards, the wind made it tricky and there was a place in the Masters up for grabs but an eye-watering, yawn-inducing five hours and 32 minutes made the progress of the Pilgrims look like the 100-yard dash.

This was yet another opportunity for the PGA Tour to take high-profile action on an issue which is crippling the game at all levels, yet the officials continue to drag their heels. It remains an astonishing fact that there has not been a penalty stroke dished out on the US circuit for pace of play infringements since 1995.

The Royal & Ancient, the European Tour and the LPGA Tour have all made robust statements of intent in recent years and have doled out punishments, while players the world over have regularly aired their grievances at the slow coaches. Yet the PGA heid honchos continue to turn a blind eye to a huge problem that is staring them in the face.

As Loupe painfully plootered through his pre-shot routine on Sunday, television commentator Johnny Miller grumbled that "if everyone on tour played like him, I would stop commentating".

We may have stopped watching by then anyway, Johnny.

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