Thursday, 07 June 2018
Oscar Lengden  (Getty Images)
Oscar Lengden (Getty Images)

There may have been no time penalties but that did not mean there was no drama as the European Tour broke new ground with the Shot Clock Masters on Thursday.

Every player was on the clock for every shot at Diamond Country Club but that was no distraction for Swede Oscar Lengden, who signed for a bogey-free 66 to set the clubhouse target at six under.

Finn Tapio Pulkkanen was then a shot off the lead, one ahead of countryman Mikko Korhonen, Dane Anders Hansen, Scottish duo Bradley Neil and Connor Syme, and South African Justin Walters.

Over a 72-hole stroke play, 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.

It was a nip-and-tuck morning, with as many as 11 players sharing the lead at one point once play was under way but when Lengden broke out of a seven-strong group at four under, he never looked back.

Lengden – a winner on the Challenge Tour this season – birdied the tenth, 13th, 15th and first and a wonderful approach into the fourth edged him into the solo lead.

Pulkkanen joined him but he took the scenic route, birdieing the first, third and fourth before bogeying the eighth and birdieing the 12th.

A double-bogey on the 14th looked set to derail him but he remarkably made back-to-back eagles on the par five 15th and 16th to join the lead.

A birdie from Lengden then edged the 26 year old back ahead on his own.

Walters was the first man to set the target at four under, with an eagle on the par five 16th catapulting him up the leaderboard.

After birdies on the third, fifth and eighth he registered a double-bogey on the ninth but bounced back nicely with gains on the 11th and 13th. A bogey on the next dropped him back before that eagle sent him flying up the leaderboard.

A strong finish helped Korhonen to a 68 as he hit a brilliant approach to the ninth to add to birdies on the third, fourth and fifth in a bogey-free effort.

Hansen also birdied his final hole, adding to gains on the 11th, 13th, 14th, first and fifth, and bogeys on the 16th and fourth.

Syme had shared the lead after birdies on the 12th, 13th, 16th and 18th but then dropped shots on the second and fourth before making a strong recovery with gains on the sixth and seventh.

Neil made a strong start as he birdied the first, second and fourth and he broke a run of ten straight pars by picking up another shot on the 15th.

There was then a strong group at three under including former champions Mikael Lundberg and Wu Ashun, four-time European Tour winner Søren Kjeldsen, and local favourites Matthias Schwab and Sepp Straka.

Canadian Austin Connelly is not the sort of player to have to worry about a shot clock and he was also at three under alongside English pair Mark Foster and Ross McGowan, and Swede Oscar Stark.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1KORHONEN, MikkoFIN18-16
2SYME, ConnorSCO18-10
T3WALTERS, JustinRSA18-9

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