Shot Clock Masters report: Mikko Korhonen in command after day three

Mikko Korhonen
Mikko Korhonen

A review of the inaugural Shot Clock Masters after day three...

Leaders

-13 M. Korhonen

-8 J. Walters

-7 A. Wu, M. Jiménez, J. Huldahl, P. Hanson, C. Syme, A. Connelly, A. Bland, D. Horsey

Day three report

Mikko Korhonen put himself in pole position to claim his first European Tour title on an entertaining third day of the inaugural Shot Clock Masters which saw players penalised for time violations for the first time.

The 37-year-old will take a commanding five-shot lead into Sunday's final round at Diamond Country Club in Austria after producing a sparkling 68 on Saturday to stay bogey-free for the tournament so far.

South African Justin Walters was Korhonen's nearest challenger on eight under par after carding one birdie and a single bogey on day three.

Englishman David Horsey, Scotland's Connor Syme and veteran Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez were among the large group in a tie for third on seven under.

Halfway leader Korhonen reached the turn in 33 after following up birdies at the first and third with another from six feet at the ninth.

The Finn then made it back-to-back gains with a birdie at the 10th to get to 13 under before safely parring the remaining eight holes.

Korhonen told Sky Sports: "I always love to come here and it seems to be working well this year.

"I'm going to stick to the plan and execute it the best I can, so let's see."

This week's tournament is the first in professional golf to time each shot from every player in the field.

Players have 50 seconds to take their shot if they are first to play, including tee shots on par threes, or 40 seconds for tee shots on other holes or when second or third to play.

The first two days went by without a single time violation but there were three on Saturday, with Clemens Prader, Grant Forrest and Andrea Pavan all handed one-stroke penalties.

Day two report

Finland's Mikko Korhonen will take a slender lead into the third round of the inaugural Shot Clock Masters, where none of the field were penalised for slow play for the second day running.

Korhonen has not dropped a shot in 36 holes after adding a 67 to his opening 68 at Diamond Country Club for a halfway total of nine under par, a shot ahead of England's Steve Webster and South African Justin Walters.

Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez had been four shots clear when he reached 10 under par, but the 54-year-old dropped three shots in his last three holes to finish seven under alongside home favourite Matthias Schwab, Ashun Wu and Jeppe Huldahl.

This week's event in Austria is the first in professional golf to time every shot from all 120 players in the field, with a digital clock operated by a referee mounted on a buggy which follows each group.

Players have 50 seconds to take their shot if they are first to play, including tee shots on par threes, or 40 seconds for tee shots on other holes or when second or third to play.

They face a one-shot penalty for each bad time incurred, but none were handed out as the players quickly adapted to the experimental format.

"I love it," said world number 709 Webster, who is battling to regain his full playing privileges on the European Tour. "I've always been a quick player and I couldn't wait to get into the tournament.

"I was about 25th reserve a few weeks ago and I was crossing my fingers to get in. I love quick golf and this is how it should be. Everyone is so positive about it and how it's gone so far."

The last of Webster's two European Tour wins came back in 2007 and, asked about the prospect of a third victory this weekend, the 43-year-old added on Sky Sports: "It's the world, it will change everything.

"At the minute my schedule is a bit of Challenge Tour, bit of main tour. It's not really here or there. I'd love to get my career back on track with a win here."

Northern Irish teenager Tom McKibbin missed the cut on his European Tour debut, the 15-year-old amateur adding a 78 to his opening 71 to finish six over par.

Day one report

Miguel Angel Jimenez may be among the senior ranks these days, but he can still keep up with the youngsters as he made a quick start to the inaugural Shot Clock Masters with an opening 67 leaving him one behind leader Oscar Lengden.

None of the field were penalised for slow play at the Austria's Diamond Country Club - which is staging the first professional golf tournament to time every shot from all 120 players in the field, with a digital clock operated by a referee mounted on a buggy following each group.

Players had 50 seconds to take their shot if they were first to play, including tee shots on par threes, or 40 seconds for tee shots on other holes or when second or third to play.

They faced a one-shot penalty for each bad time incurred, but remarkably none were handed out and Jimenez and playing partners Wade Ormsby and Nicolas Colsaerts completed their round in three hours, 57 minutes.

"I think I've never played that quick before," Jimenez, 54, said. "I feel like I was running a marathon there but it was good.

"You hear when the time starts and know you have 40 or 50 seconds but I know it's plenty of time. The most important thing is to be ready when it's time to play, because if not it's going to catch you."

Jimenez, who is the oldest winner in European Tour history following his Spanish Open victory in 2014, carded five birdies in his last eight holes to share second place with Peter Hanson and Tapio Pulkkanen on five under par, a shot behind Sweden's Oscar Lengden.

Hanson also approved of the new format and told Sky Sports: "It's so much fun to play. You don't overdo things, you don't think too much and everyone's ready to play and I think this is the way we should play golf."

The experiment has also gone down well on the other side of the Atlantic, with Billy Horschel writing on Twitter: "Loving this shot clock deal on the @EuropeanTour.

"Amazing how fast rounds go when players play within the rules. And guys are still playing great golf. Shocking!! ....wish we had something like this on the @PGATOUR."

Scotland's Connor Syme and Bradley Neil are two shots off the lead after rounds of 68, while Northern Irish teenager Tom McKibbin enjoyed an impressive European Tour debut with an opening 71.

The 15-year-old amateur, who is from the same club as four-time major winner Rory McIlroy, was three under par after nine holes and recovered from a double bogey on the 11th with seven straight pars.

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