Finland’s Mikko Korhonen moved a step closer to a debut appearance at the European Tour’s season ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai after cruising to a maiden European Tour title at the inaugural Shot Clock Masters at Diamond Country Club in Austria.
The European Tour broke new ground by introducing a shot clock for the first time where players received a one-stroke penalty for going over the allotted time limit on each shot, with only four players receiving penalties over the course of the week.
Korhonen had no such problems as he came into the final round with a five-stroke lead over South Africa’s Justin Walters.
The 37-year-old never looked back as he signed for three-under-par 69 to finish 16 under par for the tournament and six clear of Scotland’s Connor Syme as he sealed his first title at the 146th attempt.
The former Challenge Tour player picks up 195,830 Race to Dubai points and moves up to 35th from 65th in the Race to Dubai rankings with a total of 452,309 points.
“At the European Tour we are always looking for innovative ways to grow the game of golf to a bigger audience,” said Nick Tarratt, director European Tour International, Dubai.
“The Shot Clock Masters was certainly a success with players and fans enjoying the quicker format which did not detract from the quality of the golf.
“We send our congratulations to Mikko and wish him all the best for the remainder of the season as he looks to book his DP World Tour Championship debut at Jumeirah Golf Estates in November.”
Korhonen, whose victory sees him climb to a career-best 110th in the official world golf rankings, had his lead cut to three in the early stages and had to contend with two weather delays at Diamond Country Club.
However, he kept his composure to card five birdies and blow away the rest of the field as he romped to victory in style.
“It feels great to get my first win,” he said after his victory.
“It’s been a long wait so it feels so good. I thought I might not have ever got to this position. I’ve been up there a couple of times and couldn’t get it done. I’m so happy and relieved to have finally done it. It’s not easy to win, especially not the first win. I have no words, it’s so good.”
Meanwhile, Syme holed a monster putt on the last to take second place on his own which sees him collect 130,550 Race to Dubai points and jump from 206th to 101st in the Race to Dubai rankings as he edges closer to the top 60 with a season tally of 164,666 points.
The tournament opened the door for some of the fringe players in the rankings to improve their position with Australian Adam Bland moving up to 79th with a tied for 12th place finish while Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez joined Bland in 12th and now sits 82nd.
The top three in the Race to Dubai rankings remains the same. Italian Francesco Molinari leads the way while American Patrick Reed sits just behind in second. Northern Ireland’s three-time Race to Dubai champion Rory McIlroy completes the top three.
The DP World Tour Championship takes place at Jumeirah Golf Estates from November 15-18.
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