Shot Clock Masters: Players respond positively to speeding up play

Nicolas Colsaerts
The shot clock was shown on carts which went around the course
Shot Clock Masters first-round leaderboard
-6 Lengden (Swe); -5 Jimenez (Spa), Hanson (Swe), Pulkkanen (Fin)
Selected others: -4 Neil, Syme (both Sco); -3 Lewis, Webster, McGowan, Foster (all Eng) Farr (Wal); -2 Horsey, Thompson (both Eng); -1 McKibbin (am) (NI), Chesters, Evans, Canter (all Eng).
Full leaderboard

Players have reacted positively to speeding up play after the first round of the inaugural Shot Clock Masters.

Players were allowed either 40 or 50 seconds to hit the ball at the event in Vienna, Austria, or risk a one-stroke penalty if they exceeded the limit.

No penalties were given and rounds were completed around 40 minutes quicker than normal on the European Tour.

Swede Peter Hanson said he was "loving" the format and Denmark's Soren Kjeldsen called it a "learning experience".

The format is being tried amid ongoing concerns that a round of golf takes too long at the professional level, setting a bad example for amateurs.

There have been some attempts to speed up play, but none as serious as this week's experiment.

Hanson said: "I think this is the way we should play golf, the way I was born and raised to play the game.

"We played the front nine in one hour, 55 minutes and managed to get in under four hours.

"It is so nice to play. You don't overdo things, don't think too much and everybody is ready to play."

Kjelsen said: "You decide 'I am not going to back off even if there is a sound or a fly or something like that'.

"I was surprised how much that helped me because in a way you are more committed, because (you are thinking) I am going to hit now, no matter what."

Sweden's Oscar Lengden topped the leaderboard after the first round with a six-under-par 66, with Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez, Hanson and Finland's Tapio Pulkkanen a shot further back.

Analysis - 'it should be rolled out across the professional game'

BBC golf correspondent Iain Carter

The first day was a resounding success and shows that putting players permanently on the clock significantly speeds up play.

This is an idea that should be rolled out across the professional game with allowances made for conditions. The flat calm in Austria showed that 45 seconds is actually plenty for the player hitting first and 35 would be ample for subsequent shots. In windier conditions more time should be allowed because the integrity of the game would otherwise be compromised.

The European Tour has pioneered initiatives to combat slow play and should capitalise on this apparent success, but the game needs the PGA Tour to follow suit.


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