Matthew Jordan, who doesn’t even hold a category for the Challenge Tour, upstaged host Tommy Fleetwood and the rest of the European Tour players in the Lancashire line-up to set the pace in the Betfred British Masters.
On a day when world No 16 Fleetwood, the highest-ranked player in the field, was happy with an opening four-under-par 68, Jordan underlined his love for links golf by carding a course-record 63 to open up a two-shot lead over fellow Englishman Matt Wallace and Swede Marcus Kinhult.
As an amateur, 23-year-old Hoylake man Jordan won the St Andrews Links Trophy in 2017 – he also finished runner-up to Liam Johnston in the Scottish Open Stroke Play Championship at Western Gailes that year – before storming to a nine-shot success in the Lytham Trophy almost exactly 12 months ago.
He opted to turn professional at the end of last season rather than hanging around for a probable second Walker Cup appearance at Royal Liverpool, his home club, in September and the man who played off plus seven at one stage looks determined to make the most of this welcome opportunity.
“I only found out on Sunday that I had secured an invitation,” said Jordan after a brilliant bogey-free effort. “The later the better, I suppose, because, if I’d had time, I’d have started thinking about it.”
The leader, who has played with Fleetwood on a couple of occasions at Royal Liverpool, added: “Links golf just suits my eye really, especially on the greens. I just seem to see the lines having been brought up on links.” This effort came a fortnight after he signed for a 10-under-par 62 in the Turkish Airlines Challenge. At the same time, though, he is not about to get ahead of himself. “It’s only 18 holes,” said Jordan. “I’m just going to do what I need to do now and kind of refocus because I know it’s going to be tough tomorrow. I need to get into that mindset to go again tomorrow. Today is a different day.”
Fleetwood, who thrilled a huge crowd following his group with a polished performance that included an eagle-3 at the second, described Jordan’s start as “tremendous” and is hoping it is just the boost Jordan has been looking for early on in his career in the paid ranks. “We all know what he’s capable of,” said the host. “I’ve seen some of his scores and he’s not played as well as I know he wants to this year, but when you’re first turning pro, it’s different. Now the experience being at the top of the leaderboard for a few days will be really, really good for his confidence.”