By Fatiha Betscher, Al Hamra GC, RAK.
Jonathan Caldwell will be hoping he’s finally shaken off a lingering shoulder injury in teeing-up at this week’s inaugural Ras Al Khaimah Championship in the UAE.
Caldwell joined those heading north on the hour’s drive from Dubai to the $2m event being held on the stunning Al Hamra course that’s laid very close to the Arabian Sea shoreline.
However, the reigning Scandinavian Mixed champion has been fighting a nagging AC joint problem in his shoulder that he sustained in undertaking gym work that saw the Clandeboye attached golfer miss the cut in both the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and also last week’s Slync.io Dubai Desert Classic.
Caldwell is not blaming the shoulder, however it does periodically cause some aggravation.
“I arrived at Yas Links with a bit of a shoulder injury and it meant I had not undertaken a whole lot of practice back home before coming out here to the UAE,” he said.
“The shoulder swelled-up and I had a lot of bruising but in teeing-up, and while it seems okay, every now-and-then it would give me a little trouble.
“It meant I didn’t arrive in Abu Dhabi until Monday night, so my first practice round in a long time was on Tuesday that week, and the first I had played in weeks and weeks.
“So, I managed to also shake a bit of rust off that week and it was right back to driving it well last week in Dubai. It was a long course for me in Dubai where you had to be long off the tee while there was a lot of long irons into those firm greens.”
Caldwell posted scores of 71 and a horror second day 81 to finish well down the board on the Emirates course.
Though now in moving onto this week’s inaugural event, where there should be a vastly greater number of overall birdies than the prior two Middle East Swing tournaments, Caldwell will be hoping to also earn a first paycheque of the New Year.
Importantly, this new season for the 37-year-old sees him teeing up with the luxury of a full year’s exemption on the DP World following his superb maiden Tour success last year in Sweden.
“It’s a luxury I have not had before where I can pick-and-choose tournaments I wish to play, so that is new to me,” he said.
“I’m playing here at Al Hamra also next week, so that will be four in a row for me and then I will take a couple of weeks off before heading off to Kenya for the Magical Kenya Open (March 3-6) and then I am not sure what the schedule will be.
“So, the schedule from thereon is still a little bit up in the air so we’ll just have to wait and see.”
RAS AL KHAIMAH CHAMPIONSHIP – IRISH TEE TIMES (Irish time)
- Jonathan Caldwell – 3.50am
- Padraig Harrington – 4am
- Tom McKibbin – 7.40am
- Full scoring HERE