Jonny Caldwell and Leona Maguire celebrate great comebacks

By Brian Keogh  

Jonny Caldwell. Photo by Golffile

Clandeboye's Jonny Caldwell were celebrating in South Africa after completing memorable comebacks in the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek.

Qualifying School graduate Caldwell (35)  notched the best finish on his European Tour more than a decade after his debut.

Relegated to the mini tours after losing his card in 2010, the Co Down man closed with a one-under 71 to tie for 14th on level par and earn a career-best payday of €20,550.

"I'm delighted with the week's work," said Caldwell, who hadn't played a European Tour event for more than eight years.

"My game was good at the Final Stage of Q-School but didn't really have it here all week so I'm pleased that I grinded hard and was sensible with my misses and my short game was good."

Now 12th in the Race to Dubai and looking forward to his winter break after playing almost non-stop from the last six weeks, he admitted that it was pure "love of the game" that's kept him going during the lean years.

"I can't think of anything else I would rather be doing," said Caldwell, who will not be teeing it up in this week’s AFRASIA BANK Mauritius Open. "It's such a great game. It's just highs and lows."

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Leona Maguire. Photo by Golffile

On the Ladies European Tour, Leona Maguire tied for 13th as the Netherlands' Anne Van Dam retained her title in the Andalucia Costa del Sol Open de España. Scores

After starting with rounds of 74 and 73, the Slieve Russell star followed a 25th birthday 68 with final round 69 to finish on four-under par.

Vam Dam shot 70 to win by a shot and retain her title as Denmark's Nanna Koerstz Madsen tugged her drive into a lake and three-putted for a double bogey six at the 18th to finish tied for second with India's Aditi Ashok

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Conor Purcell. Photo by Golffile

Meanwhile, Portmarnock's Conor Purcell is looking forward to this week's star-studded Emirates Australian Open after grinding out a top 30 finish on his professional debut in Sydney.

The former Walker Cup player (22) tied for 29th in the $400,000 AVJennings NSW Open on seven-under-par, ten strokes behind Australian's Josh Younger at Twin Creeks Golf and Country Club. Scores

"It was a great week," said Purcell, who won $2,560 after mixing 19 birdies with 12 bogeys over the four rounds, following an opening 74 with rounds of 67, 70 and 70.

On the Staysure Tour, Barry Lane shot a final round 69 to come from four shots behind to win the inaugural MCB Tour Championship – Madagascar by one stroke on three-under. Scores

Paul McGinley shot 76 and Philip Walton a 70 to tie for 37th and 40th respectively.

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