By Bernie McGuire in Al Hamra, RAK.
The Irish pair of Jonathan Caldwell and Cormac Sharvin will be looking for individual glory after going so close to team success ahead of this week’s Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) Classic.
The RAK Classic is the second straight €1.75m event being staged on the stunning Al Hamra course laid out close to the Arabian Sea, and an hour’s drive north of Dubai.
Caldwell missed the third cut in as many new season tournaments while Sharvin, sporting new Titleist clubs in a new sponsorship deal for the Ardglass pro, was teeing up for a first time this year at the Asian Tour’s Saudi International where he also sat out the weekend rounds.
However, after teaming on Tuesday to finish joint second in a new Hero Challenge Teams event, the pair are hoping for a turnaround in the back-to-normal individual competition on the same Al Hamra course.
“We’ve played a few courses back-to-back in recent years, including Cyprus a couple of years ago and there was Kenya and Tenerife last year,” said Caldwell.
“Though playing the same course for two weeks running doesn’t make the second week any easier. It does mean you get to stay in the same hotel room for two weeks, so you’re not moving out of the room but then there could be worse spots than being here at Al Hamra and on the Arabian Sea shoreline. Of course, you could be home in the rain and the cold of winter.
“Al Hamra’s a great golf course and while I didn’t play that well last week, having this second week here, I feel much stronger and know more about the layout. As well, teaming with Cormac on Tuesday was great fun, and finishing tied second, so that’s a little kind of lift into the tournament.”
Sharvin arrived in Saudi last week not having had a scorecard in his back pocket since the mass exodus after just one round of mainly European players from last November’s co-sanctioned Joburg Open and all due to fears over the Omicron strain of the Covid virus.
As well, he teed up last week now a Titleist ambassador, sporting their clubs in his bag.
“I am starting to settle in a bit better with the new clubs and there were a few things I did need to tweak after last week,” he said
“The bounce of my wedges was off as I found myself hitting a lot of wedge shots fat while we tweaked the driver a little bit as I was spinning the ball too much.
“It was a tough week last week but then I didn’t play all that well and I guess it was a bit a combination of not having played for so long plus the new clubs, and it was always going to be a good week for me to test the clubs in the competition.
“So, I did find out a lot and I hope it benefits me this week and in the weeks ahead.”
And while Sharvin was last week teeing-up along the Red Sea, he says he’s not a stranger to this week’s host venue laid out along the Arabian Sea.
“I played here in 2017 in the final event that year of the Challenge Tour and finished in a share of fourth, so coming back here with good memories of going so close to winning five years ago.”
RAK Classic, Al Hamra GC (Irish tee times – Irish time)
- 3.10am Jonathan Caldwell
- 7.40am – Cormac Sharvin
- Full RAK scoring HERE