By Bernie McGuire in RAK, UAE.
The Irish duo of Jonathan Caldwell and Cormac Sharvin dove-tailed superbly despite seeing their eight-hole leading thunder stolen by a ‘Harold Varner III like eagle putt on the final hole of the Hero Teams Challenge at Ras Al Khaimah
Caldwell and Sharvin were out in the first match of 13 in the 9-hole series of matches featuring 26 teams off the 10th tee in glorious conditions on the stunning Al Hamra course that for a second week running is hosting a $2m DP World event.
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The most northerly emirate in the UAE was the venue for last week’s Ras Al Khaimah Championship by Phoenix Capital and this week it will be hosting the Ras Al Khaimah Classic.
Caldwell and Sharvin were joined by the Italian duo of Andrea Pavan and Renato Paratore with teams from all over Europe along with three South African teams and an Aussie team.
It was ‘scramble’ format in taking the best drive, fairway shot, and also putt, while the rules were so relaxed there was a preferred lie rule, including the Italians allowed a one-club ‘drop’ when an approach shot at 16 rolled just some two feet off the back of the green. This ruling was reflected in the overall scoring.
It was not a great start for Caldwell, the reigning Scandinavian Mixed title-holder, in finding the water down the left side but fortunately his Ardglass partner was safely on the short stuff.
Overall, Caldwell and Sharvin dove-tailed well, including down the 16th and 17th holes where they chose Sharvin’s drive, and after he first missed the birdie putt, up stepped Caldwell to get the line right and take a ‘3′ at each hole.
They came to the last, a stunning hole with an Arabian Sea estuary all the way down the right of the par-5 hole. Again, they took Sharvin’s drive but with the pair ‘leaking’ their second shots left.
The Italians were down to one drive after Paratore put his tee-shot into the water with Pavan playing a driver from the left rough and then brilliantly finding the front of the green in ‘2’.
The Irish duo’s third shot was from an 8 o’clock position to a flag at 2 o’clock, with Sharvin landing his the closest.
What happened next was not too dissimilar to the events last Sunday on the final green at the Saudi International when Harold Varner III holed a 92-foot eagle ‘3’ putt to win the event. Pavan, given it was his second shot to the green, stepped up to his ball and from around 30-feet holed the eagle ‘3’ putt to tie the Irish in the lead but with the Irishman only managing a par for both teams to end tied at the then top of the board at 6-under.
“It was a great morning’s golf with Jonathan and we clearly enjoyed it, and it was a great buzz,” said Sharvin.
“Coming down the last we had birdieing the last to get to seven-under, and thinking that would be a good target but then we could only manage a par. Then to see the shot Andrea pulled off from the rough with the driver, and then to hole the eagle putt was incredible and all credit to them.”
Caldwell said: “It was not the best of starts for me as I teed-off first from the 10th and hit it in the water, but from then on we agreed Cormac should go first and I thought we both played very well.
“Cormac was getting his iron shots in close and then I was knocking in a few birdie putts, and that really helped so it was a good team effort and great fun for a Tuesday morning.”
In the end, it was the England duo of Daniel Gavins and Callum Shinkwin emerging two-shot winners thanks to their 8-under winning tally that earned the pair a tidy $US12,000, not bad for nine holes
Caldwell and Sharvin were among nine teams to finish at 6-under with each player pocketing $US3,445.00.
Those teams placed from 11th to 26th, including three teams on 5-under, six teams at 4-under, two on 3-under, three at 2-under, and last place at 1-under each were handed $4,000.00 to share.
And given the clear popularity of the new event, Caldwell and Sharvin were not alone in backing any further such a Hero-backed team event.
“It would be great to have more team events like this as it was good fun,” said Caldwell. “It was good fun playing alongside Cormac, so I would love to see more team events like today. It was a good way to spend a Tuesday morning than just playing a practice round.”
And Sharvin added: “I think it was a great idea by the Tour particularly when, and due to Covid, we are playing a lot of venues back-to-back, so to have the opportunity today was really good fun, and I’m like Jonathan, as I’d love to see more of this format being played.”
- Full scoring HERE