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Jonathan Caldwell claimed his maiden European Tour victory at the ground-breaking Scandinavian Mixed Hosted by Henrik & Annika on Sunday after the Clandeboye man produced a stunning birdie at the last to overcome the challenges of Adrian Otaegui and Alice Hewson.
It was a fitting finish to the co-sanctioned European Tour and Ladies European Tour event as Englishwoman Hewson had an opportunity coming down the home stretch to force a play-off with her male counter-part Caldwell.
The 37-year-old Caldwell had set the clubhouse target at 17 under after equalling the best round of the week with an eight under 64 – also the best round of the final day – which was rounded off in style thanks to a remarkable second shot from the rough for a tap-in closing birdie.
For Caldwell, who partnered Rory McIlroy while representing Britain and Ireland at the 2007 Walker Cup as an amateur, it is a life-changing victory having struggled to make his mark on the professional game for 13 years and even working part-time in a golf store to fund his European Tour dreams.
He became just the eighth Ulsterman to win on the European Tour, rising to 43rd in the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex in the process.
Speaking after his victory, the Bangor, Co. Down-born player said:
“My immediate feelings are probably a bit of disbelief if I’m to be honest, it’s been a dream of mine for quite a long time obviously. A lot of hard work goes into it so it hasn’t quite sunk in yet but hopefully more to come.
“In 2009 I played my first year, lost my card, played mini tours and Challenge Tour down the years, worked as well in a local golf store so it’s been a long road. But finally I’m here.
“I missed a short putt at 17 and didn’t know where I stood at that point and I said to my caddie let’s make birdie down the last. I hit a pretty poor tee shot and got away with a good lie and somehow managed to get it up to two feet and make the putt.
“It’s been a tremendous week, what they’ve don’t this week is fantastic. I hope we have more weeks like this, the golf course was tremendous, I played with some great girls this week. I got a fist pump from Annika when I came off the 18th green which was pretty incredible – probably the greatest ever women’s golfer so that was pretty special.
“The golf club at home will probably be going bonkers so put a tab on guys and go bonkers. My parents have been with me the whole way so I’m looking forward to talking to them.”
A Special Week
The Irish golfer, who shots rounds of 70, 67, 70 and 64, added:
“Obviously to win is special enough but to be doing the winning presentation there on the 18th green with Annika and Henrik – two absolute icons in the world of golf – is quite unbelievable to be honest.
“I’d made a lot of birdies this week so it was a matter of keeping the bogeys of the double-bogeys off the card or whatever it may be. I sort of tried to post a number in my mind. If I got it to 15 it would be a pretty good week but obviously I bettered that by two.
“I know if I play well enough I can contend. Those two weeks last year, seventh and fifth, were my two best previous results. I think in Italy I might have missed out by two or three shots and in a week’s golf that’s not a whole lot so I knew I could compete and give myself chances of winning on Sunday to win, it was just a matter of when are they going to come and can I take it.”