Shot Clock Masters golf tournament fast becoming a fan (and golfer) favourite

With players on the clock at this week’s Shot Clock Masters, rounds are quicker, scoring is down and everyone seems much happier.

The European Tour is trialling a new golf tournament format this week which sees every golfer in the field on the shot clock and judging by all the talk and attention the first round got, it’s already a success.

The Shot Clock Masters gives everyone 50 seconds to play their shot, or 40 seconds if you’re the second or third to hit in your group. A one-shot penalty applied if you go over your time limit.

Not surprisingly, the European Tour proudly reported that no one received a penalty in the first round of the Shot Clock Masters and five of the three-ball groups got around in less than four hours on a difficult golf course in Austria.

Obviously those golfers who scored well will love the format and those are generally happier playing quickly will fair better overall. And overall the scoring averages were a little better in round one this year compared to the same tournament and course last year where there was no shot clock; 72.96 in 2017 v 72.36 in 2018.

And on average the time it took to play the round was 34 minutes faster than last year.

Sweden’s Oscar Lengden currently leads the tournament posting a bogey-free 6-under 66. Lengden is one stroke ahead of Tapio Pulkkanen and a couple of veterans who have thrown back the clock Sweden’s Peter Hanson and Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez.

Jimenez who is coming off his first-ever Champions Tour victory in Alabama last week seemed happy with the format and his 5-under par round.

“It’s been very interesting. It’s very important that you are ready to play, if not it will catch you,” Jimenez said after the round. “That’s the good thing, you are not wasting any time. 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.”

It’s a little sad it’s come to this in some ways. As Peter Hanson said after the round, this is the way most of us were brought up to play.

But it was a big win for the golf fans too who got to see more golf and less of golfers studying a putt or flipping through a yardage book for a few minutes before playing their shot.

No doubt the PGA Tour is watching this one very closely.

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