Matthew Baldwin is trying not to get ahead of himself as the Challenge Tour graduate grabbed the first round lead in the China Open after an impressive first round 7-under 65.
The 26-year-old Englishman has enjoyed a decent start to his career in the big leagues with a top-10 finish in the Africa Open, 17th in the Trophee Hasan II tournament and made the cut in two other events as well.
His 7-under total was enough for a one shot lead, but Baldwin just wants to focus on enjoying his time on the European Tour.
“It was very good today so I am happy with that,” he said.
“This is not the lowest round of my Tour career – I shot nine under at East London Club in South Africa earlier in the season but this would be the second lowest.
“I have been playing well for the past three events really and I am just trying to enjoy the experience of being on Tour for the first time. I played on the Challenge Tour last year and didn’t know what to expect out here but it is better than I expected because there is just so much going on at the tournaments.
“I just tried to keep everything as simple as I could. My caddie and I set out this morning with a game plan of trying to make 18 pars and take our chances when they came and it turned out to be one of those days where there were a lot of chances and I managed to take a few of them.”
Conditions seemed to be easier earlier in the day as Baldwin and five of the six men tied for second played the morning session.
Only South African Jbe Kruger managed to get near the top of the leaderboard playing in the afternoon, the 25 year old shot a bogey-free 66.
He was joined by Swede Fredrik Andersson-Hed, England’s Gary Boyd, Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Gonnet, Dutchman Joost Luiten and Australian Scott Strange.
Paul Casey is in the field and he continued his rehabilitation from a snowboarding injury with a 4-under 68, along with Colin Montgomerie and defending champion Nicolas Colsaerts.
Australian Marcus Fraser was part of the group on five under, and was 10 shots better than his playing partner, but couldn’t hide his admiration for 13-year-old Tian-Lang Guan, who became the youngest player in European Tour history.
“I couldn’t believe I was playing with a 13 year old – I am old enough to be his dad,” said Fraser. “It’s pretty scary actually – I thought I was still quite young.
“He was very impressive for someone who is 13 and a half years old. He hits it long off the tee and hits a lot of very good shots.
“His putting is good and he has good routines. You can see he is very competitive too which you need to be. If he keeps on the path he is on then he can be a great player.
|Fredrik Andersson Hed||66||-6|