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Jonathan Caldwell in contention after round one of British Masters on European Tour


Driving on: Northern Ireland’s Jonny Caldwellall

Driving on: Northern Ireland’s Jonny Caldwellall

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Driving on: Northern Ireland’s Jonny Caldwellall

Jonathan Caldwell is in contention after his opening round at the British Masters on the European Tour.

The Clandeboye golfer is just three shots off David Law's lead after an impressive four under par opening round 67 at Close House GC in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.

Caldwell made the turn two under par after a flawless front nine that featured back-to-back birdies on the sixth and seventh.

He traded a birdie for a bogey in his opening holes on the back nine and really shot up the leaderboard with a fine finish, picking up birdies at the 16th and 17th to reach a tie for ninth place.

It's Caldwell's first start since the Tour swung back into action, having missed out the opening back-to-back events in Austria.

Having come through Tour school in November, Caldwell is playing only his second season on Europe's top tour, the first coming way back in 2009, when he failed to retain his card.

He will have no such issues this year, with playing rights set to be retained for 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Nonetheless, he'll be hoping to finish higher than his current 136th place ranking in the Race to Dubai. Normally, a top 115 finish is required to retain the Tour card.

The 36-year-old made a bright start to the season with a tied 14th place finish at the Alfred Dunhill Championship in December and made the half-way cut in both of his following two starts.

Two missed cuts came in early March, before the Tour shut down amid the Covid-19 crisis.

Ardglass' Cormac Sharvin is also in action this week and boosted his hopes of making it through to the weekend by picking up birdies in two of his last three holes to end the day two over par. The 27-year-old endured a tough start, four over after four holes but rallied to give himself a chance of making the cut.

Englishman Oliver Fisher ended the day on six under par and afterwards said he is looking forward to the Tour's six-tournament UK swing from now until the end of August.

"There are a lot of things to enjoy and hopefully we can all continue with social distancing and sticking to the routine of doing everything as properly as we can," he said. "The Tour have been great at stressing that to us. I’m delighted to be back and delighted with my score."

Belfast Telegraph