Super cool Jonny Caldwell led the way as Ireland’s poker of aces made a scorching start in the European Tour Qualifying School Finals in Spain. Live scoring
Walker Cup ace Caldwell only joined the paid ranks when he guaranteed himself Challenge Tour status by coming through Stage Two of the Q-School last Saturday.
But he was totally relaxed on his pro debut as he hit five birdies in a magical eight-hole stretch to open with a fabulous, four-under par 67 in the 108-hole marathon near Girona.
Tied for sixth place in the race for 30 European Tour cards, Caldwell said: “Having just turned pro and reached the finals I don’t feel any tension at all. I am just starting out in this game and at least I have a Challenge Tour card.
“It is different for the boys who have just lost their cards and are feeling a little more anxious. But I can only improve what I’ve got and I am just aiming as high as I can and trying to treat it like any other tournament.”
Belfast’s Michael Hoey and Royal County Down’s Simon Thornton finished the day tied for 19th place on three under with Derry’s Mick McGeady just outside the magical top 30 and ties on two under.
The 156-man field will play two rounds each on the Red and Green courses at PGA Golf de Catalunya with the top 70 and ties qualifying for the last two rounds.
After that the top-30 and ties will earn European Tour cards and Clandeboye star Caldwell is perfectly positioned to join Walker Cup partner Rory McIlroy in the 2009 Race to Dubai.
Playing the par 71 Red Course, he bogeyed the second but birdied the ninth to get back to level and then picked up four birdies on the way home.
Hoping to win back the tour card he lost at the end of 2006, Hoey chipped in from 30 feet at his final hole for a three under par 68 on the Red Course.
He said: "The last time I was at the Q School, back in 2004, I shot 79 in the first round and missed my card by a shot. Hopefully I can make it easier on myself this time."
Adopted Irishmen Thornton hit a three-under 68 on the Green Course with the highlight an eagle three at the par-five 15th while McGeady had four birdies and two bogeys in a two under par 69 on the Red that left him tied 33rd.