Jonathan Caldwell will be targeting Challenge Tour graduation at this week’s EuroPro Tour Championship in Spain to cap a consistent campaign on the satellite circuit.
The Clandeboye professional is in Almeria for today’s starting £100,000 closing event and he’s currently occupying fifth place on the Order of Merit with the top-5 players on the table after Friday’s final round earning promotion to the feeder Tour of the Promised Land next season.
It’s been a steady year for the 35-year old on the Tour this term having earned £20,456.76 from 14 events played.
Caldwell has enjoyed top-10 finishes in seven of those 14 tournaments, however his lead over sixth place Andrew Wilson in the race for a card is a slender one – just over £100 in fact – and with season-altering money on offer during this bumper prize week in Spain, nothing short of Caldwell’s best will do to ensure he maintains his place within the top-5.
“I definitely want to be playing Challenge Tour,” Caldwell said to Irish Golfer Magazine recently, under no illusions as to the importance of progression this season.
“The standard’s better, the golf courses are better, the potential earnings are better, they offer the European Tour spots so it’s huge to get on that Tour and to stay on it.”
Caldwell was afforded just three Challenge Tour starts in 2019 but managed to make the cut in two of them, the Open de Portugal and the Stone Irish Challenge where he enjoyed a tied 26th result at Headfort.
Having grown up with Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry amongst his sparring partners on the journey from the amateur ranks through to the professional circuit, Caldwell will look to draw inspiration from their continued success as he strives to take a step closer to joining his old friends on Tour.
“It’s certainly motivating,” Caldwell said of the duo’s careers to date. “I know the level I can play at and obviously I can see what these guys have gone on to achieve from those days.
“They’ve got better and better and better but I know the level I can play and it gives me great hope seeing what Shane’s done – I’m not talking about winning Majors – but making a great career out of playing good golf.”
Joining Caldwell this week will be plenty of other Irish interest with Royal Dublin’s Niall Kearney, Limerick’s Tim Rice, Whitehead’s John Ross Galbraith and Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy all in the field.
Although Kearney is best placed of that quartet in 33rd on the Order of Merit having banked just over £6,000 this season, a winner’s cheque this week of £22,540 means opportunity knocks for a bolter from the pack to spring a late surprise, so it truly is all to play for in Spain.
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