Belfast Telegraph

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Ulster's Caldwell out to show he's up for Challenge


By Paul Kelly

It's been a long time coming but Clandeboye's Jonathan Caldwell will finally get his Challenge Tour season under way tomorrow at the Turkish Airlines Challenge in Belek.

Caldwell secured his Challenge Tour card on the final day of the Europro Tour season back in October at the Sky Sports Tour Championship.

A 15th-place finish in Portugal saw him grab the fifth and final card on offer via the Europro Tour Order of Merit.

Since then he's had precious little competitive golf and he's ready to get started.

"It's been a long wait between tournaments but generally I have managed to stay patient and positive," said Caldwell.

"I played in the second stage of European Tour Q-School and narrowly missed out there, and then in February I went to Spain for a couple of weeks to play on the Evolve Tour.

"I managed to get a win over there but it was mostly about finding out what stage my game was at and what I needed to be working on."

A long, wet, cold winter hasn't been particularly conducive to quality practice but the 33-year-old is determined to make an impact on the Challenge Tour this season.

After a number of years struggling to find his way as a professional, Caldwell, a former leading amateur who played in the Walker Cup alongside Rory McIlroy at Royal County Down in 2007, is finally moving in the right direction again.

With the support of some key sponsors - Wirefox, Woodgate Aviation and the Safety Advice Centre, Bangor - he has been freed from financial worries to focus on golf and it has seen him turn his fortunes around over the last 18 months.

"My expectations are high, hopefully I will be competing at the top end of the leaderboard," added Caldwell.

"I feel that I have had some decent prep this winter considering the weather we have been dealing with. My game is in reasonably good shape and a couple of days in Turkey will hopefully help sharpen up the short game.

"My No.1 goal this year is to win and then to finish inside the top 70 which will guarantee my playing privileges for 2019."

The Turkish Airlines Challenge is the third event of the Challenge Tour season which will include visits to Galgorm Castle for the Northern Ireland Open in August and Concra Wood in Co Monaghan for the Irish Challenge in September.

Joining Caldwell in Turkey are Ulster duo Cormac Sharvin and Michael Hoey, alongside a number of bright young Irish talents in Stuart Grehan, Gary Hurley, Gavin Moynihan and Ruaidhri McGee.

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