Monday 22 January 2018

Calmels battles back from horror injury to eye maiden Euro title

Francois Calmels
Francois Calmels

William S Callahan

TWO years after a horror accident that could have cost him his career, French golfer Francois Calmels is within range of a first victory on the European Tour.

Calmels still trailed Daniel Brooks by one stroke at the head of the field as heavy rain once again severely curtailed play on the second day of the Nelson Mandela Championship in Durban.

The sensational 62 shot by Englishman Brooks began to look ever more significant with every hour the field spent cooped-up in the clubhouse.

Sixty three players had yet to finish their first round when Mount Edgecombe once again became waterlogged after less than four hours of action yesterday, with Michael Hoey, at three-under through 12 holes, prominent among them.

David Higgins, who completed a two-under 68, Simon Thornton with a 69, Damien McGrane, with a 71 and Q-School qualifier Kevin Phelan, who failed to make a birdie in his opening 74, had significant ground to make up as the weather threatened to cut the tournament short.

Though further rain is not forecast until late this afternoon, only 54 holes at best will be played before tomorrow's finish, scheduled to give due deference to Mandela's state funeral on Sunday.

A powerful coterie of Frenchmen are among Brooks' closest challengers in the clubhouse, including Calmels (63), Edouard Dubois and Romain Wattels, who both shot 64, plus Adrien Saddier and Victor Riu after a brace of 66s.

Calmels, who was 32 on Wednesday, is lucky to be playing golf after nearly losing four fingers in an accident late in 2011 which could have been scripted for the 'Omen Trilogy'.

After the golfer and his beloved husky Shaft stepped into the lift at their home near Paris, the dog bolted just as the doors shut and his leash was caught. With the dog about to be strangled as the lift headed upwards, Calmels held on for dear life to try a snap the lead. It worked, but the fingers on one hand were cut to the bone and he still has no feeling in the top of his index finger.

Still, he's no problem holding on to the lead in golf tournaments, as he proved by winning twice on the Challenge Tour last year.


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