Jonathan Caldwell proudly leads a field of four Irish teeing-up in Thursday’s starting Hero (English) Open at the Forest of Arden course just to the east of Birmingham.
Once again, it’s a no spectator event with players and caddies spending the week in the Tour bubble by residing at the on-course hotel.
It’s also the first occasion the Tour has returned to the course since Darren Clarke captured the 2002 English Open, and it’s where three years later a then recently turned 16-year old Rory McIlroy made his European Tour debut.
Caldwell, 36 arrived with a real spring in his step having secured his best finish on the Main Tour in securing a share of eighth at last week’s British Masters.
Caldwell pocketed his largest payday yet of €27,420 to also be lying eighth on a ‘UK Swing’ mini-money list, the bonus at the end of the six-event swing the reward of the leading 10 on the money list qualifying for the 17th September starting U.S. Open.
Now in a great position to attack, Caldwell credits the weeks leading-up to the resumption of European Tour competition that allowed him to lay the foundations for his quick-fire start, particularly a couple of invaluable Team Ireland sessions that ensured his game-readiness was accelerated.
“Once the golf courses were re-opened in Northern Ireland, I got back to playing a lot of social golf and then Team Ireland hosted a couple of small events for us in the south of Ireland that proved so helpful,” he said.
“It was the first time for a long while I had a scorecard in my hand and while I didn’t play particularly good, the fact that I had to go back to making two and three-foot putts helped so much.
“I enjoyed the three months as I’d never had three months off before in my golf career.
“For the first five weeks I took myself off on my own to the very north of Ireland and spent time up in Downings, near Rosapenna where I was hitting the occasional golf shot along the beach where I was staying.
“It was great and the weather was ideal. Though I did find myself getting eventually thrown off the beach by the Garda but in saying that, it was a great break just getting away on my own.
“Having that time away from the game just relaxing and taking-up a bit of cycling and getting fitter was something that I thoroughly enjoyed and that showed last week in the British Masters.
“I just felt refreshed and looked forward to again playing competition golf.”
Joining Caldwell this week is Paul Dunne who was just inside the top-40 last week while both Cormac Sharvin and Gavin Moynihan will be looking to bounce back after missing the Close House cut.
HERO OPEN – Irish Tee Times
8am – Jonathon Caldwell
10.50am – Cormac Sharvin
1.20pm – Gavin Moynihan
1.30pm – Paul Dunne
WGC – FEDEX ST. JUDE INVITATIONAL – Irish Tee times
5.50pm – Rory McIlroy (1st tee)
6.30pm – Shane Lowry (1st tee)
6.30pm – Graeme McDowell (10th tee)
BARRACUDA CHAMPIONSHIP – Irish Tee time
3pm – Seamus Power
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