European Tour

Excitement builds as Shot Clock Masters debuts

Matthias Schwab (Getty Images)
Matthias Schwab (Getty Images)

Cape Town - Home favourite Matthias Schwab is relishing the opportunity to be involved in a world first this week as the Shot Clock Masters debuts on the European Tour.

Diamond Country Club, near Vienna, Austria, is the venue for the first tournament in professional golf to use a shot clock on every shot.

It may be a week of innovation, but the surroundings are certainly familiar for the 23-year-old, who made his professional debut on this course last year after graduating from Vanderbilt University in the United States.

He plied his trade on the Challenge Tour for much of last season before securing his European Tour card through Qualifying School, and has enjoyed positive 2018 so far, finishing inside the top 30 four times in ten European Tour appearances - including tied fourth at the Hero Indian Open in March - and making his Rolex Series debut in the Italian Open last week.

Charismatic Spaniard Miguel Ángel Jiménez also has an affinity for this event, which is the latest incarnation of Austria's national open, having recorded six top 20 finishes in seven previous appearances.

The 21-time European Tour winner, who has a home in Austria, arrives at Diamond Country Club on a high after securing his first Senior Major title at the Regions Traditions in the United States last month.

The fans favourite is intrigued by the prospect of the Shot Clock Masters format, with experienced campaigner Søren Kjeldsen of Demark - who is making his 559th European Tour appearance this week - and former Ryder Cup player Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium also looking forward to another innovative week on the European Tour.

The European Tour experimented with a shot clock on one hole at the inaugural GolfSixes in 2017 - a move which proved popular with both players and fans.

In a marked difference to the GolfSixes model however, this week's Shot Clock Masters will embrace the Tour's official timing policy (similar to policies used across the world of professional golf) over 72 holes, with an intent to showcase an event played at a more compelling pace.  

In accordance with this official policy, each player in the field will have 50 seconds for a first to play approach shot (including par three tee shot), chip or putt and 40 seconds for a tee shot on a par four or par five or second or third to play approach shot, chip or putt.

A digital clock mounted on a buggy will travel with each group and will be accompanied by a referee who will be responsible for operating the clock and determining when to start the clock for each shot.

The clock will be controlled by an iPad using a bespoke app.

On each occasion that a player fails to hit his shot within the time limits, a one-shot penalty will be added to his score for that hole.  

However, each player can call for a "time-extension" up to twice in any one round, allowing a further 40 seconds over and above the above allowances to play the shot in question.

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