Oscar Lengden leads the way at the end of round one of the inaugural Shot Clock Masters, after a swift day of action at Diamond Country Club near Vienna, Austria.
The European Tour was once again breaking new ground, with every player in the field on the clock for every shot as part of the Tour’s bid to combat slow play.
The Swede signed for a six under par round of 66 to top the leaderboard on a day in which the fastest round came in at 55 minutes under the average time across the European Tour in 2018 for 18 holes in three balls.
The group of Nico Geyger, Henric Sturehed and Kristian Krogh Johannessen posted a round time of three hours and 53 minutes, compared with the 2018 season average of four hours and 48 minutes.
Five groups completed their rounds in under four hours, as the average for the day came in at four hours and 13 minutes, with no penalties imposed for bad times.
The 21-time European Tour winner Miguel Ángel Jiménez of Spain was one of those players who got around Diamond Country Club in less than four hours, on the way to a round of 67.
He was joined at five under par and just one shot off the lead by Sweden’s Peter Hanson and Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland, who shot back-to-back eagles on the 15th and 16th holes. Young Scottish duo Bradley Neil and Conor Syme are part of a group of six players one shot further back at four under par.
The Shot Clock Masters is a standard 72-hole stroke play event on the Race to Dubai, with one difference – the Tour’s official timing policy is implemented on every hole, with referees accompanying every group and operating a digital clock mounted on a buggy via a bespoke app.
The players have a 50-second allowance for a first to play approach shot (including a par three tee-shot), chip or putt and a 40-second allowance for a tee-shot on a par four or par five, or second or third to play approach shot, chip or putt.
Failure to make your shot in the allotted time leads to a one-shot penalty on the hole in question but players are allowed two 40-second time-extensions in any one round.
Oscar Lengden: “On my first hole (the tenth) I actually took a lot of time, I think I had four seconds left or something, but I think this kind of system fits me well. I’m a quick player, I like playing quick, I dislike waiting. For me it feels great out there.
“It was great, it was fun to be out there again, I know my swing pretty well now and coming from a good week last week in Switzerland as well it was just fun playing today.
“The key is that I know where my ball is going. Overall I feel in control of my swing, so that’s probably the key at the moment. If I just keep my mind in the right state I think it will be a great week.
Miguel Ángel Jiménez: “It’s been very interesting. It’s very important that you are ready to play, if not it will catch you. That’s the good thing, you are not wasting any time. You see that it takes less than four hours to play 18 holes.
“After nine holes we were under two hours, and then of course under four hours after 18 and that was even waiting to play on some holes. It would be nice to have some more time to talk a few more words to your caddie, but it’s nice, it’s definitely a positive experience.
“I feel great, from my last round last week I’m just continuing in the same mood. I’m making good shots, making birdies, and I enjoyed it very much.”
Peter Hanson: “It’s so nice to play out here. The golf course is amazing and this format really brings it back to old golf, the way it was when I came out on tour 20 years ago. We used to have a bit more of this pace. Everyone was ready to play.
“You don’t have to watch the clock you just have to be ready to play when it’s your turn. You can’t walk around a putt on the green four times and look in two different books. You just have to be ready to play and just play golf.
“It feels great, it’s been a bit rough the last few weeks. Couple of loose shots today but way better than it’s been the last couple of weeks. I feel that the game is coming back to where it should be, or where I expect it to be. It’s just nice to get a good opening round, a good score on the board to see what I can do tomorrow.”
Tapio Pulkkanen: “It was a good opening round, I’ve been struggling with the first rounds this year. I played almost perfectly, that was the feeling. I played by my plan.
“For the eagle on 15, I hit a driver and five iron into one metre, and on 16 I hit driver, seven iron and chipped in, so it was a great finish.
“I’ve been struggling the last couple of tournaments so it’s good to have a good round and have good confidence for tomorrow and hopefully the weekend. It was about 15 or 20 minutes quicker than normal, which was great.”
Round one scores
66 O Lengden (Swe),
67 M Jiménez (Esp), P Hanson (Swe), T Pulkkanen (Fin),
68 J Huldahl (Den), C Syme (Sco), B Neil (Sco), M Korhonen (Fin), J Walters (RSA), A Hansen (Den),
69 M Foster (Eng), T Lewis (Eng), O Stark (Swe), J Winther (Den), R McGowan (Eng), M Schwab (Aut), S Straka (Aut), M Lundberg (Swe), S Kjeldsen (Den), O Farr (Wal), S Webster (Eng), A Wu (Chn), A Connelly (Can),
70 S Heisele (Ger), D Im (USA), N Colsaerts (Bel), D Horsey (Eng), A Pavan (Ita), J Thomson (Eng), J Choi (Kor), F Fritsch (Ger), A Bland (Aus), N Cullen (Aus), M Kim (Kor), K Samooja (Fin), C Blomstrand (Swe), B Ritthammer (Ger), K Reitan (am) (Nor),
71 A Chesters (Eng), G Moynihan (Irl), L Canter (Eng), L Gagli (Ita), K Johannessen (Nor), M Millar (Aus), P Khongwatmai (Tha), F Aguilar (Chi), J Norris (Aus), G Forrest (Sco), D Huizing (Ned), R Evans (Eng), E Johansen (Nor), R Jacquelin (Fra), T McKibbin (am) (Nir),
72 C Bezuidenhout (RSA), C Ford (Eng), S Khan (Eng), J Hansen (Den), D Stewart (Sco), J Arnoy (Nor), G Stal (Fra), V Riu (Fra), L Slattery (Eng), J Carlsson (Swe), C Hanson (Eng), Z Lombard (RSA), J Munro (Aus), W Ormsby (Aus), M Tullo (Chi),
73 M Fraser (Aus), C Koepka (USA), M Nixon (Eng), B Evans (Eng), E Goya (Arg), R Cho (Kor), J Lima (Por), R McGee (Irl), H Sturehed (Swe), P Widegren (Swe), S Fernandez (Esp), L Nemecz (Aut), R McEvoy (Eng),
74 B Stow (Eng), S Garcia Rodriguez (Esp), P Angles (Esp), M Schneider (Ger), C Prader (Aut), J Geary (Nzl), C Pigem (Esp), B Dredge (Wal), N Geyger (Chi), D Brooks (Eng),
75 M Armitage (Eng), T Fisher Jnr (RSA), M Baldwin (Eng), S Surry (Eng), K Koivu (Fin), F Laporta (Ita), M Brier (Aut), R Green (Aus), M Ford (Eng), P Dedek (Cze), M Steinlechner (am) (Aut),
76 N Bertasio (Ita), D Papadatos (Aus), B Neumayer (Aut), G Bourdy (Fra), Ó Serna (Mex),
77 L Johnston (Sco), A Sandhu (Ind), C Mivis (Bel), L Astl (Aut),
78 P Gal (Cze), P Oriol (Esp), J Steiner (Aut),
79 P Shields (Sco), J Edfors (Swe), S Kapur (Ind),
80 B Reiter (Aut),
81 R Gruber (Aut),
82 J Singh (Ind),