By Richard Williamson
MATTHEW Baldwin produced a battling performance to make sure he can spend this weekend at his next door neighbour’s.
The Southport golfer is attached to Royal Birkdale, which sits alongside Betfred British Masters host Hillside, and is lining up in the field on an invitation.
Baldwin now plys his trade on the second tier Challenge Tour, having spent the majority of his time on the full European Tour since turning professional in 2008.
But making it to the guaranteed pay day section of the tournament, and with it valuable ranking points, will all help open future doors for the 33-year-old as he aims to reclaim his playing rights at the top table.
Successive bogeys to close out his first round at one-under-par 71 left the halfway cut line nipping at his heels, but Baldwin set about pulling clear with birdies at the second and third holes. A double bogey quickly followed to undo his good work, but the Liverpool fan responded well to pick up two more birdies on six and seven.
Baldwin then closed out his round with 11 straight pars – either side of the interruption for rain – to ease ahead of the drop.
“It’s a big event, I play next door and these things don’t come along too often,” he said. “I had family and friends here watching and I wanted to make the cut for them as much as myself.
“It was hard work out there – the double bogey was a momentum stopper. Without that I am four under. And I dropped shots to a couple of silly three putts yesterday, but that’s golf.
“Now I am looking forward to going out and enjoying the weekend.”
Bromborough’s Paul Waring improved his opening round by two shots to make the cutline at two under, but there was disappointment for Southport’s Lee Slattery who missed out by one.