The European Tour debuted its Shot Clock Masters this week in Austria, a new-age event that features a rules official accompanying every group and enforcing a time-limit on every shot they hit.
The timing is determined by order of play. The first playing in the group to play a tee shot on a par-3, approach shot, chip or putt gets 50 seconds to hit. Forty seconds is allotted for the first player to tee off on a par-4 or par-5. After the first player hits his shot, subsequent players are then given a 40-second shot clock to play their shot — a shorter amount of time to encourage players to prepare to hit before their actual turn.
Any player who goes over the allotted time is hit with a one-stroke penalty. There are also time extensions — up to two per round per player — that allow for an additional 40 seconds to be put on the clock to avoid penalty.
Through two rounds, there were no run-ins with the shot clock penalties, but when the weekend came around, the amplified pressure cost four players a stroke.
Clemens Prader, Grant Forrest and Andrea Pavan all incurred one-shot penalties on Saturday for failing to pull the trigger in time.
“I just didn’t hear him, I didn’t hear ‘time’,” Prader said, according to EuropeanTour.com. “I was just in my routine and it must have been called sometime when I was walking to my ball, which is fine, I just didn’t hear it. It was just four seconds over, which is a little unfortunate.
“I was a little angry, I hope you didn’t have any cameras on me. It got me so heated that I actually holed a bunker shot on the next hole, which was okay, it kind of reversed it.
“It was not a problem, I just didn’t hear. My caddie told me, he wasn’t watching, he didn’t hear the time as well but the other guys heard it. It’s just an unfortunate situation. It was early, I was still going with a decent round, it’s just how it is. It’s the name of the game and I accept it.”
Prader missed the 54-hole secondary cut, but not because of his one-shot penalty; he shot a third-round 4-over 76, which put him at 6-over for the event, six shots off the secondary cut line.
On Sunday, a fourth and final penalty stroke was given to Sweden’s Oscar Stark who was 8-under par and on the periphery of contention. The stroke turned his par into a bogey. He would go on to finish at 2-under par for the event and in a tie for 38th place.
Mikko Korhonen of Finland won his first European Tour event in impressive fashion, waxing the field by six shots thanks to a final-round 3-under par 69.