British Masters: Matthew Jordan fires course-record 63 to lead on day one
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 10/05/19 9:39pm
Matthew Jordan stole the headlines on the opening day of the Betfred British Masters as he fired a course-record 63 to claim a two-shot lead at Hillside.
The local youngster, who is playing in only his ninth European Tour event after being handed a sponsors invite, defied the wet and frigid conditions to make nine birdies while keeping a bogey off his card as he ended the round two clear of Matt Wallace and Marcus Kinhult.
Veteran Lee Westwood got off to a stunning start when he birdied six of the first seven holes before stalling and finishing on six under, and tournament host Tommy Fleetwood returned a solid 68 which left him five strokes off the pace.
But Jordan was the star of the show in front of his home fans, making birdies at three of the first four holes and adding two more at the sixth and eighth as he cruised to the turn in 31.
The 23-year-old former Walker Cup player, who is a member at nearby Royal Liverpool, took his momentum into the back nine and picked up further shots at 10, 11 and 13 before he converted another delightful approach to the 15th for his final gain of the day.
Jordan did well to scramble pars on each of the next two holes, and a cast-iron four at the last completed an excellent day's work, by far his best performance since he joined the professional ranks in September last year.
"I just tried to shoot as low as I could because I thought the guys out there, they are good as well," he said. "I actually managed to shoot 10 under on the Challenge Tour a couple of weeks ago.
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"There I got the feeling how to shoot low. I had shot low previous to this but, on this stage, to go and do it and on this kind of course is impressive, to me, anyway."
Sweden's Kinhult began his tournament with three straight birdies and, after a lone blemish at the seventh, he raced home in 31 to close on seven under, a score later matched by Wallace as the Englishman handed in the best round of the later starters.
Wallace looked in cruise-control as he carded four birdies over the outward nine and added three in five holes after the turn, almost holing his approach to the 15th in the process, and he was understandably pleased that some hard work on the range had paid off.
"Conditions-wise, it was favourable", he said. "I think the pins were accessible in areas, but you've still got to do it and I'm very happy with that start because I've had a few missed cuts and I haven't played great. I worked hard the last couple weeks and it paid off so I'm very happy."
Westwood was unable to build on his remarkable first seven holes and followed a run of five pars with his first bogey of the day at the 13th, although he did claw the shot back immediately at 14 before parring safely in to stay at six under along with fellow Ryder Cup vice-captain Robert Karlsson, Belgian Thomas Detry and Scotland's Richie Ramsay, who started his round birdie-eagle-birdie.
Fleetwood, who is following in the footsteps of Ian Poulter, Luke Donald, Westwood and Justin Rose as tournament host, enjoyed the chance to shine on his home course as he made an eagle and three birdies with only one blemish.
"It was nice to get down to the golf, and I enjoyed playing," said the Ryder Cup record-breaker. "I felt like I played really well and I felt in control most of the day. So it was good and I enjoyed it. A lot of people come out today in that weather that's pretty cold and wet. I know they are going to do that but still nice to see them and play."
Martin Kaymer and fan favourite Andrew "Beef" Johnston were among the others to open with 68s, while defending champion Eddie Pepperell parred his first 10 holes before mixing three birdies with one bogey in a solid 70.