Back nine birdie blitz gives Caldwell the perfect start at the British Challenge

Rian Noctor

Jonathan Caldwell (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

A blistering, rollercoaster back nine 30 has Northern Ireland’s Jonathan Caldwell just one shot off the pace after the opening day at the British Challenge on the European Challenge tour.

Caldwell started slow at St. Mellion estate, shooting one-over on the front nine, but he burst into life on the back side, carding two eagles, four birdies and two bogeys to sign for a five-under 67 and sit alongside Italy’s Matteo Manassero in a tie for third.

A good finish would go a long way for Caldwell, who needs to end the season strongly to secure one of the coveted DP World Tour cards in November. A good week at Headfort saw him claim the Christy O’Connor Jr. Memorial Trophy as leading Irishman in the Irish Challenge, securing an invite to the Horizon Irish Open at the K Club next month in the process.


Marc Hammer posted an impressive six-under-par 66 to lead by one stroke. The German birdied the last to lead the field by one. Hammer, who secured a maiden Challenge Tour win at the Euram Bank Open in 2022, was delighted to make a fast start on the south coast of England. 

“Everything was pretty solid,” he said. “I struggled off the tee a little bit at the beginning but after that my long game felt good. My putting was a lot better than the last couple of weeks too. 

It was a mixed day for the rest of the Irish contingent in Cornwall. Cameron Raymond is the best of the rest after carding a two-under 70 which included a double bogey and a triple bogey.Conor Purcell, Niall Kearney and Stuart Grehan all carded a one-under 71 to lie five shots off the place.

Northern Ireland’s Dermot McElroy also shot a one-under 71 despite a double bogey on his 10th hole of the day. It was a disappointing day for Ronan Mullarney and Conor O’Rourke who shot a pair of one-over 73’s to lie seven shots off the pace.


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