Jonathan Caldwell and Cormac Sharvin are paired together this week for the first two rounds of the European Tour’s latest brainchild, the inaugural Aphrodite Hills Cyprus Showdown.
Last week, the Tour marked a significant milestone in its 48-year history as Cyprus became the 50th country to host an official European Tour event. Now the players are back at the same venue for a fresh format that sees the first 36 holes played as a stroke play event, and the cut will then be made to the leading 32 players and ties. The scores will be reset to zero for the third round, and another cut will reduce the field to the top 16 players and ties. Scores will also be reset for the final round ‘shoot-out’, meaning the winner will be determined by who shoots the lowest round on Sunday.
Ardglass professional Sharvin will be looking to build on his course form from last week after signing off with his best round, a five-under par 66 on Sunday before grabbing a timely top-30 finish, his best result since the beginning of August.
Clandeboye professional Caldwell, meanwhile, enjoyed a rare weekend off after failing to fire last week in Cyprus. It was the 36-year old’s first missed cut since August and came off a run of back-to-back career-best finishes on the European Tour. Returning to the course rested after a week in the Cyprus sun, however, Caldwell will be confident of his form continuing at Aphrodite Hills in the familiar company of Sharvin.
It will be the same test for the most part this week for the pair, too. The only permanent change throughout the week will be to the 17th, where a more forward tee will be used from Thursday to Sunday. Elsewhere, the 13th tee will be moved forward for Thursday and Friday, while the 18th will alternate between two tees for the week. For the final two days of competition, the dramatic par three seventh hole will use its back tee for the final two days of competition, while the eighth tee will be moved forward for the first time.
A large majority of the field who took part in last week’s Cyprus Open will hold something of an advantage as they play Aphrodite Hills for a second consecutive week – including every player from last week’s top 10. Of that number, seven are still seeking their first win, including Thomas Detry and David Drysdale.
With the format rewarding the players who go low, it’s hard to argue against looking at either last week’s champion Callum Shinkwin, or Finland’s Kalle Samooja. Shinkwin eagled the 72nd hole to post the lowest round of the week (a 63), while Samooja carded back-to-back rounds of 64 at the weekend. Other players to record a 64 included Jason Scrivener, Matthew Southgate, Wilco Nienaber, Mitch Waite and Johannes Veerman – who went bogey free for the first three rounds.
It also seemed to be a course suited to left-handers Robert MacIntyre and Garrick Higgo. Both players finished inside the top five last week, and each posting a 65, 66, 67 and 68 throughout the week. Rasmus Højgaard, who currently sits at 10th place in the Race to Dubai and is already a two-time winner on Tour during his rookie season, will also make his first start in Cyprus this week.
- Caldwell and Sharvin get their first rounds underway at 04.35 on Thursday (Irish time)