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Jonathan Caldwell records first top-10 finish on European Tour at British Masters

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Jonathan Caldwell playing on day four of the Betfred British Masters at Close House (Mike Egerton/PA)

Jonathan Caldwell playing on day four of the Betfred British Masters at Close House (Mike Egerton/PA)

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Jonathan Caldwell playing on day four of the Betfred British Masters at Close House (Mike Egerton/PA)

Clandeboye's Jonathan Caldwell recorded his first top-10 on the European Tour after securing a tied-eighth placed finish at the Betfred British Masters at Close House.

Caldwell shot a one-under-par 70 in his final round in Newcastle-upon-Tyne to finish at 11-under-par overall, which was good enough to give the 36-year-old his best finish on Europe's premier circuit.

The Northern Irishman carded an early double-bogey to harm his chances, but responded superbly with four birdies and only one more bogey on his way to his fourth under par round of the week for a superb result in his first tournament back since lockdown.

The result will significantly improve Caldwell's world ranking, which is currently 631st, while he'll also move up 28 spots in the Race to Dubai to 108th which, in an ordinary season, would put him in line to retain his Tour card. This season, because of the coronavirus pandemic, all Tour players will retain their cards for 2021.

It also continues what has been a solid start to Caldwell's first season back on the European Tour after qualifying through last year's Q-School, albeit a disrupted one due to Covid-19, which had seen him finish tied-14th at the Alfred Dunhill Championship in December and tied-57th at the South African Open.

Italy's Renato Paratore, who for a long time flirted with a bogey-free tournament, secured his second Tour victory at Close House, finishing on 18-under-par and winning by three strokes from Rasmus Hojgaard.

Paratore, who played 62 flawless holes before finally dropping a shot, would end the day at two-under-par after carding a 69, always doing enough to stay just a couple shots ahead of his challengers.

The World No.270 will move to sixth in the Race to Dubai rankings with the victory and pockets a handy cheque of around €195,000 for finishing top of the leaderboard as well.

Starting the day six shots off the lead, held by eventual winner Paratore, it was always going to be a tough ask for Caldwell to challenge for the title, but he could at least ensure he would pick up an impressive finish on the leaderboard on the final day.

Five pars to start allowed the former Walker Cup star to settle into his round, only for a costly double-bogey at the par-four sixth to derail any hopes he might have had of making a push for the top of the standings.

Still, he bounced back superbly by recording back-to-back birdies at the seventh and eighth holes, only to drop another shot on the par-three ninth to finish the front nine one-over.

But a birdie at the par-five 10th had Caldwell back to level-par, and he consolidated that position by rattling off six straight pars before adding a final birdie at the par-five 17th to guarantee himself that eighth-placed finish on the leaderboard.

Ireland's Paul Dunne carded a level-par 71 in his final round to finish at three-under-par for the tournament, the only other Irishman in the field to make the halfway cut mark.

The European Tour moves on to the Marriott Forest of Arden next week for the Hero Open, the second event in the Tour's 'British Swing', with Caldwell in action again alongside Ardglass ace Cormac Sharvin, who missed the cut at Close House.

Belfast Telegraph