Golf: JJ Micaleff makes Maltese Golfing History winning the Cyprus Open

Wednesday, May 24, 2017, 16:14

With a score of 9 over par over 54 holes, JJ Micallef became the first Maltese male golfer to win an amateur international open tournament. This excellent feat was achieved at the Aphrodite Hills Golf Course – the venue for this year’s Cyprus Amateur Men’s Open held under the auspices of the Cyprus Golf Federation.

JJ, a member of the Royal Malta Golf Club, has been representing Malta as part of the National Team on several occasions. This historic win crowns other achievements including his second place in last year’s Turkish Open; bronze medal in the European Team Shield Championships also last year as well as silver medal in the GSSE held in Iceland in 2015.

Fifty-four participants entered the tournament including young Laurens Schulze Doering also an RMGC member who at 13 years of age was experiencing his first major male international tournament. With an aggregate score of +38, Laurens placed a creditable 24th .

JJ’s start to the tournament was next to a perfect round of golf. After getting a birdie on the second, he dropped a shot on the fourth to get it straight back on the fifth. He then proceeded to par all the next eleven holes to remain one under par until he reached the par three 17th . He tripled bogeyed this and a birdie on the final hole saw him in with 1 over par for the first day – one shot behind the leader and three ahead of the rest of the field.

It is said in golf, that another day is a totally a different challenge. With six bogeys on the front nine of the second day, a different challenge presented itself to JJ. His two birdies did nothing to succumb his dejection due to another two bogeys and a double bogey for a +8 return to place third and three shots behind the joint leaders (Staykov and Toennessen) after 36 holes played.

Three shots further back with +12 lay Andrew Halifax. Playing one flight ahead of the leaders on the last day, Halifax left his best golf for the final day. With four birdies, twelve pars and two bogeys, Halifax returned a -2 for the day – the best score over eighteen holes for the tournament – and with an aggregate of +10 over thirty-six holes was the leader in the Clubhouse with only three players out on the golf course.

Staykov’s bid for the tournament evaporated almost immediately after two double bogeys with only three holes played. Despite successive pars until the 12th hole, another two bogeys and two double bogeys dropped Staykov’s to an overall fourth place with an aggregate of +16.

This left JJ and Toennessen to battle it out and by the 5th hole the score had evened itself out with JJ making the initial three-shot deficit with some excellent putting. By the ninth hole, JJ edged one shot ahead after Toennessen double bogeyed the par four 9th. By the 14th, JJ was still one ahead to then go four ahead in the next two holes through a par and a birdie against Toennessen’s two bogeys. In reality, these two holes made a big difference as Tonnessen proceeded to par the 17th and eagle the 18th to JJ’s bogey and par to claw back three shots – one shot shy from inviting a sudden death playoff.

The players’ participation in the Cyprus Open was thanks to the funding scheme of the Maltese Olympic Committee whilst Nike Golf was behind the players’ sporting wear.

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