Jonathan Caldwell one shot off the lead after 67 in Denmark

At the Irish Challenge, Tom McKibbin and Cameron Raymond lead the home charge

Jonathan Caldwell plays his second shot on the 18th hole during the first round of the Made in HimmerLand. Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Jonathan Caldwell plays his second shot on the 18th hole during the first round of the Made in HimmerLand. Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images


Jonathan Caldwell’s journey so far this year has resembled something of a rollercoaster, with lots of downs and occasional ups. In eight tournaments, the 36-year-old Northern Irishman has missed four cuts; but he smoothly negotiated the opening round of the Made in HimmerLand tournament on the European Tour in Farso, Denmark, with a fine 67 that left him his a shot adrift of a quintet of leaders.

Caldwell - who hasn’t had a top-10 since a fifth place finish in the Italian Open last October and with a best finish of tied-21st in the Gran Canaria championship - had six birdies and two bogeys in a four-under-par 71, to lie within touching distance of 2019 winner Bernd Wiesberger, recent British Masters champion Richard Bland, Pablo Larrazabal, Yikeun Chang and Lauri Ruuska.

For Bland, the 48-year-old Englishman who secured a breakthrough win at The Belfry a fortnight ago but didn’t get into the US PGA, it was a case of picking up where he left off as he again hit the birdie trail.

“I was just happy to get back out playing to be honest. I hadn’t really done a lot last week, played once with some friends and did a bit of practice. I was coming in a little bit unprepared but sometimes that’s not always a bad thing,” said Bland, who appears to have finally found a new comfort zone on the main tour.

While Caldwell led the Irish challenge, Greystones’ Paul Dunne and Dubliner Niall Kearney each signed for level par 71s. Cormac Sharvin, though, was out of sorts with his game and opened with a 75.

On the Challenge Tour, the opening round of the Irish Challenge at Portmarnock Links provided a tougher challenge as the day progressed as early sunshine was replaced with a stiff wind and persistent rain.

So it was that 39-year-old Spaniard Alfredo Garcia-Heredia made the most of an early start in posting a fine seven-under-par 64 to claim a three shot lead over England’s Gary King.

Co Down teenager Tom McKibbin, just a matter of weeks into his professional career, and Dubliner Cameron Raymond led the home challenge in tied-third with well-constructed 68s in the difficult conditions on the north county Dublin links.

McKibbin, another product of Hollywood Golf Club and who has been supported in his development with encouragement from Rory McIlroy, is making his own way on the professional circuit these days after failing to make the Britain and Ireland Walker Cup team and, having started his round on the eighth hole in the two-tee start system in play, showed his fortitude when recovering from a double bogey on the 18th (his 11th hole) by rebounding with back-to-back birdies on the first and second holes.

“I got off to a solid start (three-under through his opening 10 holes) but after the double on 18 it was good to get the two birdies and then just hang on coming in,” said McKibbin.

Raymond, who is attached to St Anne’s Golf Club on Bull Island, has competed regularly in the mini tours and on the EuroPro Tour in recent years, and used his knowledge of the links - gained in playing the Winter Series there - to good effect in the toughest of the conditions.

“Knowing the place helped a lot,” admitted Raymond. “It was tough, it was all about hitting the middle of the greens, to keep it simple. You’ve got to stay out of the rough, especially downwind, or you’d be here all day.”

The 22-year-old Dubliner’s lone bogey came on the ninth, his second hole, and thereafter he plotted his way around brilliantly with birdies on the 11th, 12th, fifth and sixth holes.

Garcia-Heredia’s form came like a bolt from the blue, as the veteran Spaniard - still seeking a maiden win on the Challenge Tour but with a runner-up finish in the Andalucia Challenge last November - claimed a clear lead.

“It was probably my best round of the year so far. I like the place, and the links golf course is great. If you play well, you make a good score. I also had to have some good breaks in order to make birdies and save some pars. Honestly, I think my play deserved four or five under but seven is a good bonus,” he said.

Irish Challenge leading first round scores (Portmarnock Links, Co Dublin, Par 71, Irish in bold)

64 - Alfredo Garcia Heredia (Sp)

67 - Gary King (Eng)

68 - Tom McKibbin, Borja Virto (Sp), Daniel Young (Scot), Cameron Raymond, Felix Palson (Swe),

69 - Kris Reitan (Nor), Yannick Paul (Ger), Gud Kristjansson (Ice)

70 - David Borda (Sp), Mario Galiano Aguilar (Sp), Michael Bullen (Eng), Alexander Knappe (Ger), Dermot McElroy

71 - Blake Winfred (Aus), Julien Bruen (Fr), Stuart Grehan, Ben Schmidt (Eng), Daan Huizing (Neth), Eduard Rousaud (Sp), Michael Hoey, Jens Dantorp (Swe), Christopher Cannon (Eng), Mikael Lundberg (Swe), Scott Gregory (Eng)

Selected other Irish:

72 - James Sugrue

73 - Rowan Lester, Paul McBride, Conor Purcell

74 - Ronan Mullarney, Michael Dallat, Shane Franklin, Simon Thornton, Colm Moriarty

75 - Robin Dawson, Gavin Moynihan

Made in HammerLand first round scores (British unless stated, Par 71)

66 Bernd Wiesberger (Aut), Richard Bland, Pablo Larrazabal (Spa), Lauri Ruuska (Fin), Yi-Keun Chang (Kor)

67 Matthias Schwab (Aut), Laurie Canter, Jonathan Caldwell (NIrl), Dimitrios Papadatos (Aus)

68 Thorbjoern Olesen (Den), Ashun Wu (Chn), Joost Luiten (Ned), David Law, John Axelsen (Den), Masahiro Kawamura (Jpn), Nino Bertasio (Ita), Ross Fisher, Oliver Farr, Dale Whitnell, Wil Besseling (Ned)

69 Steven Brown, Lucas Bjerregaard (Den), Alexander Levy (Fra), Robert MacIntyre, Callum Shinkwin, Romain Langasque (Fra), Renato Paratore (Ita), Guido Migliozzi (Ita), Niklas Noergaard Moeller (Den), Matthew Southgate, Chris Paisley, Sean Crocker (USA), Soeren Kjeldsen (Den), Haydn Porteous (Rsa), Julien Guerrier (Fra), Francesco Laporta (Ita), Josh Geary (Nzl), Pep Angles (Spa), Martin Leth Simonsen (Den)

70 Chris Wood, Shubhankar Sharma (Ind), Adrian Otaegui (Spa), Peter Launer (Den), Jason Scrivener (Aus), Jordan Smith, Marcus Armitage, Lars van Meijel (Ned), Toby Tree, Suradit Yongcharoenchai (Tha), Max Schmitt (Ger), Eduardo de la Riva (Spa), Jarryd Felton (Aus), Marcel Siem (Ger), Jesper Sandborg (Swe)

71 Jorge Campillo (Spa), Stephen Gallacher, Kurt Kitayama (USA), Richard McEvoy, Alexander Bjoerk (Swe), Wade Ormsby (Aus), Min-Woo Lee (Aus), Ryan Fox (Nzl), Marcus Helligkilde (Den), Michael Lorenzo-Vera (Fra), Thomas Detry (Bel), Richie Ramsay, Ignacio Elvira (Spa), Jeff Winther (Den), Ashley Chesters, David Horsey, Matthieu Pavon (Fra), Calum Hill, Sebastian Heisele (Ger), Robin Roussel (Fra), Sebastian Garcia (Spa), Carlos Pigem (Spa), Garrick Porteous, Pedro Figueiredo (Por), Rikard Karlberg (Swe), Niklas Lemke (Swe), Kristoffer Broberg (Swe), Paul Dunne (Irl), Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (Spa), Nicolai Hoejgaard (Den), Niall Kearney (Irl)

72 Aaron Rai, Eddie Pepperell, Rasmus Hoejgaard (Den), Alejandro Del Rey (Spa), Lasse Jensen (Den), Benjamin Hebert (Fra), Adria Arnaus (Spa), Edoardo Molinari (Ita), Tapio Pulkkanen (Fin), Robert Rock, Adrian Meronk (Pol), Connor Syme, Gregory Havret (Fra), Robin Sciot-Siegrist (Fra), Jean-Baptiste Gonnet (Fra), Lee Slattery, Rhys Enoch

73 Matt Ford, Brandon Stone (Rsa), Scott Hend (Aus), Andy Sullivan, Graeme Storm, Matthiam Keyser (Rsa), Morten Oerum Madsen (Den), Andrew Johnston, Joakim Lagergren (Swe), Maximilian Kieffer (Ger), Victor Dubuisson (Fra), James Morrison, Jack Senior, Matthew Jordan, Alejandro Canizares (Spa), Adrien Saddier (Fra), Bernd Ritthammer (Ger), Marcel Schneider (Ger), Nicolai von Dellingshausen (Ger), Tom Gandy, Wilco Nienaber (Rsa), Paul Peterson (USA)

74 Justin Harding (Rsa), Thomas Bjorn (Den), Gavin Green (Mal), Scott Jamieson, David Drysdale, Lorenzo Gagli (Ita), David Howell, Ben Evans

75 Sebastian Soederberg (Swe), Mikko Korhonen (Fin), Julian Suri (USA), Cormac Sharvin (NIrl), Darius van Driel (Ned), Maverick Antcliff (Aus), Aaron Cockerill (Can), Johannes Veerman (USA), Si-Hwan Kim (Kor)

76 Joachim B. Hansen (Den), Trevor Simsby (USA), Joel Stalter (Fra)

77 Richard Mansell, Haotong Li (Chn), Adam Guedra (Swe), Peter Hanson (Swe), Benjamin Poke (Den), Jake McLeod (Aus), David Coupland, Clement Sordet (Fra), Lorenzo Scalise (Ita)

79 Alvaro Quiros (Spa)

84 Janne Kaske (Fin)

87 Andrea Pavan (Ita)

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