Sweden’s Oscar Lengden leads the way at the end of round one after a swift day of action at Diamond Country Club.
The European Tour was once again breaking new ground, with every player in the field on the clock for every shot as part of the Tour's bid to combat slow play.
The Swede signed for a six under par round of 66 to top the leaderboard on a day in which the fastest round came in at 55 minutes under the average time across the European Tour in 2018 for 18 holes in three balls.
Essentially the first player in each group is granted 50 seconds to complete their shots followed by 40 seconds each for the other two with a ‘bad time’ incurring a one shot penalty for the hole in question.
Five groups completed their rounds in under four hours, as the average for the day came in at four hours and 13 minutes, with no penalties imposed for bad times.
The greater awareness of time taken saw little in the way of time wasting and across the board players seemed to acknowledge the benefit.
Admittedly most of those interviewed after their rounds were typically players who had done well but the initiative appears to have been a great success especially given the pressure some were under to adjust their pre-shot preparation.
Lengden was certainly one who, once adjusted, felt very comfortable with the innovation.
“On my first hole (the tenth) I actually took a lot of time, I think I had four seconds left or something, but I think this kind of system fits me well. I’m a quick player, I like playing quick, I dislike waiting. For me it feels great out there.
“It was great, it was fun to be out there again, I know my swing pretty well now and coming from a good week last week in Switzerland as well it was just fun playing today.
“The key is that I know where my ball is going. Overall I feel in control of my swing, so that’s probably the key at the moment. If I just keep my mind in the right state I think it will be a great week.”
Miguel Angel Jimenenz, who opened with a round of 67 to be tied for 2nd place with Sweden’s Peter Hanson and Finland’s Tapio Pulkkanen, also started well and enjoyed playing under the new timing system.
“It’s been very interesting,” said the Spaniard. “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. You see that it takes less than four hours to play 18 holes.
“After nine holes we were under two hours, and then of course under four hours after 18 and that was even waiting to play on some holes. 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."
Sweden’s Peter Hanson also spoke positively about the day. “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.”
Of the Australians in the field Nick Cullen and Adam Bland did best when they opened with 2 under par rounds of 70 to be in a share of 24th with Jason Norris and Matthew Millar the next best at 1 under and tied for 49th.
SWING LIKE JUSTIN ROSE
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