| 17°C Dublin

title victory Golfer Jonny Caldwell says his European Tour win has not 'sunk in yet'

European Tour win is a game-changer for Jonny and Clandeboye, after a well-earned rest

Close

Jonathan Caldwell pictured at Clandeboye Golf Club after winning his first  European Tour event at the Scandinavian Mixed. Pic: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Jonathan Caldwell pictured at Clandeboye Golf Club after winning his first European Tour event at the Scandinavian Mixed. Pic: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Jonny landed the Scandinavian Mixed title in Gothenburg last week

Jonny landed the Scandinavian Mixed title in Gothenburg last week

Jonny’s win will put Clandeboye on the map. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Jonny’s win will put Clandeboye on the map. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Jonny Caldwell this week with club captain Owen Trainor and, left, vice-captain Justyn Galloway. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Jonny Caldwell this week with club captain Owen Trainor and, left, vice-captain Justyn Galloway. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

/

Jonathan Caldwell pictured at Clandeboye Golf Club after winning his first European Tour event at the Scandinavian Mixed. Pic: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Jonny Caldwell has joined an elite club - and everything tastes better.

"Yeah, definitely tastes good," he says as he reaches for a pint of Guinness, the latest golfer from the North to add a European Tour title to his CV.

"There've been a few of these in the last few days."

And why not? A few days after his maiden tour victory on the European Tour, he was back on home turf and the welcome could not have been warmer.

Guys come off the 18th on the Dufferin Course at Clandeboye and they want to shake his hand. Pictures taken and banter exchanged, the 37-year-old can finally sit down and reflect.

"It hasn't sunk in yet," he said, sitting in the bar of Clandeboye Golf Club. With Belfast Lough shimmering in the distance and the rolling hills above the village of Conlig in Co Down, there could be few better places to celebrate a breakthrough moment.

Close

Jonny Caldwell this week with club captain Owen Trainor and, left, vice-captain Justyn Galloway. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Jonny Caldwell this week with club captain Owen Trainor and, left, vice-captain Justyn Galloway. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Jonny Caldwell this week with club captain Owen Trainor and, left, vice-captain Justyn Galloway. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

"This is home, I've been playing golf here since I was 11. I will always play here - and you see the guys coming off the 18th, I play with them on a Thursday when I can, it doesn't matter I just love to play golf."

With the silver salver from his victory in the Scandinavian Mixed last weekend in Sweden resting on the table, and a cheque for £150,000 in his hip pocket, he admits it's been a long road.

At 37 he's a late bloomer. Slogging around Europe on the minor tours since he turned pro in 2008, he never gave up on the dream of becoming a champion.

"There have been moments when I wonder what the hell I'm doing, you miss a cut or maybe two in a row, but that only lasts an hour and then you think about the next tournament."

And he's now determined his victory in Germany last weekend is the start of a new chapter in his career. A win on the Tour opens so many doors, he's now guaranteed entry into the biggest tournaments on the European Tour including the lucrative Rolex Series events.

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

Close

Jonny landed the Scandinavian Mixed title in Gothenburg last week

Jonny landed the Scandinavian Mixed title in Gothenburg last week

Jonny landed the Scandinavian Mixed title in Gothenburg last week

It's fitting reward for a player who has persevered.

"I played the minor tours and would come on a Friday and go to work in (golf store) Nevada Bob's for a couple of days and then head off again - it was punishing."

He needed the job to make ends meet and is eternally grateful for the employment but the cycle needed to be broken and thanks to local sponsorship he could concentrate on his career.

Even then, the life of a pro-golfer trying to make the breakthrough can be a grind.

"I'm not complaining but I could be away six or even nine weeks on the trot, living out of a suitcase."

This victory affords him the chance to plan his schedule rather than play every week.

"It's great - I can plan my life, I can take a week off when I need to which I intend doing this weekend!"

The win guarantees his membership of the European Tour for the next 18 months.

"It means I've got a job for a year and a half, it's up to me."

His breakthrough has come in the most difficult of difficult years. Covid has meant strict conditions for players - constant testing, bubbles and no spectators.

"I'm used to playing the minor tours with very few people watching, so in that sense the last year wasn't unusual, we were just grateful to be playing because we thought it wasn't going to happen."

In the meantime victory allows him a week off and he's heading away for a few days with his partner and a few friends.

"It's my friend Neil's 40th birthday so it was his big weekend, now it's my big weekend!"

The timing of Clandeboye's favourite son's entry into the winners' enclosure could not have been better timed. The club is set to host its first professional event later in the summer.

Club captain Owen Trainor has realised his dream of landing a professional tournament at the stunning heathland course.

"I couldn't have done it without Jonny," he said, "he threw the pebble in the pond, he suggested to the people that mattered that we could do this, and here we are."

Clandeboye is one of the North's best kept secrets - two stunning courses with views over Strangford Lough - and now it has landed a three-year deal to host a Euro Pro tournament branded the Northern Ireland Masters from August 16-20.

Close

Jonny’s win will put Clandeboye on the map. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Jonny’s win will put Clandeboye on the map. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Jonny’s win will put Clandeboye on the map. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

"It will showcase not only our club but the area and the whole of Northern Ireland," said Owen.

And he is thankful for the support of former First and Deputy First Ministers Arlene Foster and Michelle O'Neill.

"Arlene's first words to me when I pitched it to her was 'it's a no-brainer'; Michelle was right behind her because they can see the benefit of it."

Sky TV Golf Channel will screen the event and with Tourism NI and the local council onboard, it can only enhance the North as a golf destination.

"Golf has delivered for Northern Ireland," said Owen, "we want to see a legacy from this next three years, bringing young people into the game and so on."

Jonny Caldwell cut his teeth on the Euro Pro tour and is now an A-league golfer. He has committed to playing the Masters on his home course.

This time last week after 13 years as a pro, he was standing over a 3ft putt to win his first European Tour event.

How were you feeling?

"I was sh*****g myself!"

* The Northern Ireland Masters is a free entry event running from August 16-20

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices


Privacy