Sharvin & Hoey in the mix at historic Jordan Open

Irish Golfer
Cormac Sharvin (NIR) during the first round of the Barclays Kenya Open played at Muthaiga Golf Club, Nairobi, 23-26 March 2017 (Picture Credit / Phil Inglis) 23/03/2017 Picture: Golffile | Phil Inglis All photo usage must carry mandatory copyright credit (© Golffile | Phil Inglis)

Cormac Sharvin

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Cormac Sharvin fired a four-under par 68 to sit just outside the top-10 after day one of the historic Jordan Mixed Open presented by Ayla.

The Ardglass professional carded six birdies in an impressive opening effort in Aqaba to trail Daan Huizing’s lead by four shots in a share of 11th at minus-four.

Just one shot further back is Michael Hoey who continued his solid form so far this season with a three-under par 69. With Chris Selfridge on the bag, the man from Ballymoney found four birdies with just a single dropped shot on the card to sit just inside the top-20 in a share of 18th.

The morning proved a struggle for Tramore’s Robin Dawson who returned a three-over par 75 while Headfort’s Brendan McGovern props up the field after a forgettable 82.

But it’s Huizing who will forever hold a small place in history as the first overnight leader of the Jordan Mixed Open.

The Dutchman, who plays on the European Challenge Tour, birdied half of the holes at Ayla Golf Club against only one bogey to card an opening round of eight-under par 64.

The sublime score will give Huizing a one-shot advantage over two golfers from England — fellow Challenge Tour player Jack Senior and Ladies European Tour player, Meghan MacLaren.“It was a really nice round,” reflected Huizing.

“I was hitting it nicely and made some nice putts to keep the round going as well. I enjoyed it. It was pretty chilled and it was good fun.

“It’s a different perspective to play with the seniors and play with the ladies. It was a nice, relaxed day, and I think being relaxed helped me play well.

“It will be interesting to see after three days what the findings are, but it was fun. We never see the seniors or the ladies because the tournaments are never together, and to hear what they do and how their Tours are, it’s good for us to hear because we normally just see the same guys every week.

”Day one in Jordan gave the entire world of golf an important first-look at a format which allows men, women and senior golfers to compete in the same field.

MacLaren, who has been a vocal advocate for the strength of the women’s professional game, wasted no time in backing up her words as she carded birdies on her first two holes and rode the momentum to post the early target of seven-under par.

“If I’m going to write about it and talk about it all the time, then I’d better back it up with my golf,” she said.

“I’m delighted to do it in this tournament, particularly. Hopefully it will send a bit of a message, but any time you shoot seven-under in a tournament, you’re not going to be too far off the lead. Hopefully this means a few more people will be watching.

“Given everything I’ve talked about over the last few months, it is nice to back it up, but I didn’t want to put any extra pressure on myself. I’ve been saying to everybody that the girls’ standard of play will show if the course is set up properly. I’m just happy with how I’ve played and if that puts me near the top against the guys, then that’s just a bonus, really.

”When the high winds forecast for the afternoon failed to materialise, several players, including Huizing, Senior and 2018 Staysure Tour Rookie of the Year Paul Streeter took advantage.

Streeter’s six under par 66 was the low-round amongst the over-50s contingent and placed the Englishman firmly in the mix with two rounds to go.

The innovative tournament sees 40 players from each of the Challenge Tour, the over-50s Staysure Tour and the Ladies European Tour compete for the same trophy over 54 holes.

With the golfing community eager to see how the course set-up would play out, the opening round was a great success with players from all three Tours in contention and well represented inside the projected cut line of even par.

Challenge Tour players played the first round from approximately 7,100 yards, Staysure Tour players from 6,601 yards and Ladies European Tour players from 6,139 yards.

The unofficial battle for low-couple is heating up with Ladies European Tour Order of Merit leader Marianne Skarpnord and her fiancée, Challenge Tour player Richard Green, combining for a two under par total, while married golfers Kyle Henry of the Ladies European Tour and Scott Henry of the Challenge Tour combined for a one over par total.

Tournament officials collected data on driving distance, approach shot distance and club selection from every player who competed on day one and will incorporate their findings into the course set-up for day two to continue to ensure the fairest possible playing field for all competitors.

The second round of the Jordan Mixed Open presented by Ayla will begin on Friday at 7:30 am local time before the 123-player field is reduced to the top 60 players and ties for the final day.

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