Miguel Ángel Jiménez continued to roll back the years with a brilliant opening 67 on day one of the Shot Clock Masters.
The 54 year old Spaniard has been a regular on the European Tour since 1989 but he had a new experience at Diamond Country Club, with every shot being timed and a one-shot penalty applied should you not play in the allotted time.
At the end of Thursday, not one player was handed a time penalty and Jiménez's three-ball was one of five groups to get round in less than four hours on a successful first day for the innovative format.
It was also a successful day for Jiménez, who followed up a closing 63 at the Italian Open with a five under total that continued to prove he can still mix it with the young guns.
“I feel great, from my last round last week, I’m just continuing in the same mood,” he said. “I’m making good shots, making birdies and I enjoyed it very much.
“I made some birdies on my front nine, then I started making three-putts and I missed some chances. Then on the back nine it started working better.
“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. 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.”
Swede Peter Hanson was another man enjoying a recent renaissance, also firing a 67 a week after making his first cut of the season.
Many of his problems this year have been due to injury, and the two-time Ryder Cup player was happy to back in the groove.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 - Miguel Ángel Jiménez
“It feels great, it’s been a bit rough the last few weeks,” he said. “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.
“Pretty much everything needs to be worked on. I had a long time off after Dubai and, obviously, with some physical issues again. Every time you come back after a ten, 12-week break it just takes a while for everything to get into the groove.
“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.”
The third man at five under was Finn Tapio Pulkkanen, who recovered from a double-bogey on the 14th with eagles on the 15th and 16th.
“It was a good opening round - I’ve been struggling with the first rounds this year,” he said. “I played almost perfectly, that was the feeling. I played by my plan.
“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.”