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Sharvin makes solid start amid early Spanish surge

 

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Jonathan Caldwell

Jonathan Caldwell

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Jonathan Caldwell

Cormac Sharvin leads the Northern Irish charge at the Hero Open on the European Tour after an opening day that saw the top of the leaderboard dominated by Spaniards.

Sharvin carded a solid two-under-par 70 at the Marriott Forest of Arden in Birmingham, but that's already a whopping eight shots behind Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez, whose course record 10-under-par 62 has him two shots clear after day one.

The chasing pack also had a distinctly Catalonian feel to it, with Pablo Larrazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez - breaking Sam Torrance's all-time appearance record on the European Tour in his 707th event - tied for second at eight-under-par.

Clandeboye's Jonathan Caldwell, who came into the event off the back of his best ever finish on the European Tour at last week's British Masters, is one shot back of Sharvin at one-under-par.

Sharvin's round was all the more impressive in that he was two-over-par after 11 holes of his opening round without a birdie on his card, but he recovered superbly to end in red figures.

The Ardglass man got back to level-par for the day by eagling the par-five 12th before adding birdies at the 15th and 17th to finish strongly.

Meanwhile, Caldwell mixed four birdies with three bogeys in an up-and-down round for the 36-year-old, but one that also has him in the top half of the standings after the opening day.

Caldwell birdied the third and seventh holes in a promising start, however he couldn't maintain that momentum after dropping a shot at the ninth.

Further bogeys came at the 15th and 16th after a birdie at the 12th, but the Clandeboye ace did ensure he would card a fifth consecutive under-par round with a birdie at the 17th.

The story of the day was undoubtedly Jimenez, who celebrated his record appearance in superb style with a flawless 64.

"It's been a wonderful day," said the 56-year-old, who is already the oldest winner on Tour.

"Eight-under-par with a beautiful summer day and especially now on the 18th here with all my colleagues clapping for me, it's emotional. I appreciate that very much."

Leader Garcia Rodriguez is enjoying his rookie season on the European Tour after gaining his card via the Challenge Tour and set a new course record with his opening 62.

"For me it's incredible," Garcia Rodriguez said. "I was so close to the hole the whole time, the irons were incredible and it's amazing. It's my dream all the time to be on the European Tour and it's my first low score."

Ireland's Gavin Moynihan is one-over-par after his opening round, while fellow countryman Paul Dunne is two-over.

Sharvin is in the first group out this morning for his second round, teeing off at 7am, while Caldwell is off at 11.55am.

• GALGORM Castle touring professional Stephanie Meadow makes her return to the LPGA Tour tonight at the Drive On Championship in Toledo, Ohio.

Jordanstown ace Meadow begins her opening round at 12.27pm UK time at the Inverness Club alongside Hong Kong's Tiffany Chan in the first event on the leading women's tour since lockdown in March.

Belfast Telegraph