MATTHEW Jordan carded a stunning 64, which included a hole-out eagle two followed by five successive birdies, at St Andrews Old Course to take the halfway lead in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
The promising Cheshire has been plying his trade primarily on the European Challenge Tour this year, where the Royal Liverpool member has already claimed a maiden professional victory.
And he knows how to win around the Old Course having claimed the St Andrews Links Trophy two years ago – arguably the leading strokeplay event for amateurs in the UK – shooting nine-under for 54 holes, having played the first round on the Jubilee.
The 2017 Walker Cup player, who grew up playing at Hoylake currently sits second in the Road to Mallorca rankings – and he continues to impress in his dalliances with the European Tour.
The 23-year-old led the opening round of the Betfred British Masters in May, eventually finishing in a share of 15th place at Hillside Golf Club, showing his likeness for the Southport links not far from his home.
And he is out in front once again on British soil after a round which caught fire when he holed out with his approach at the par-four third hole.
Five birdies in a row from the fourth led to a front nine 29 and stirred hope of a potential chase for the magic number of 59.
Jordan, who clearly relishes links golf, said: “After that start, I wanted to keep momentum, because I knew I would have chances.
“I’ll just try and go as low as possible because the scoring is so good. You can’t make a few birdies and think, oh, I’ve done my job.
“I was just free-wheeling it really. I wasn’t thinking too much which is probably a good thing.
“A 59 did cross my mind once. I had my friends here and they were quick to tell me that they wanted the same on the back nine.
“I’ve done quite well recently. I had one more invite so I just asked my managers, and tried to sort it out because I really wanted to play it – and I absolutely love this place.
“I am must trying to make the most of it,” added Jordan.
Eight pars and a birdie on the way home were still enough to earn the Liverpudlian a 14-under total and a one-stroke advantage over his friend, Challenge Tour No, 1 Calum Hill, the leading Scot at halfway, as well as Essex’s Matthew Southgate and Swede Joakim Lagergren.
Hill, who has one twice on the Challenge Tour this year, said: “It’s always nice to be at home and play in front of family and friends that can come out and watch.
“And it’s even better that I played well and they can enjoy themselves because of that as well.
“It’s slightly different this week because everyone is playing a different course at a different time,”added Hill, who is just one win away from automatich promotion to the main tour under the current rules.
“It’s just about playing as well as you can, and going as low as you can over these first two days and then after three rounds, I think you can look at your position a bit better and judge what you need to do for the final day.”
World No. 4 Justin Rose was among the six players in a tie for fifth position on 12-under.
Rose, was also on 59 watch after making six birdies and an eagle in eight holes at Kingsbarn – where the featured players on Sky TV’s coverage were playing in the second round.
The Hampshire ace, who has spoken about the effects of Hurricane Dorian on the Bahamas, where his family have had their main home for some five years, said: “It was an unbelievable front nine.
“Obviously a great round. Got me in the tournament. Eleven birdies, never going to be disappointed with that.
“I’m taking credit for the 28. JT (Justin Timberlake) was over the back of the par five third green in three, putted up near my coin and gave me a perfect read and I made an eagle putt.”
If Rose and Jordan can keep their place near the top of the leaderboard – and possibly find themselves paired for Sunday’s final round, they will have more than one thing in common.
Jordan’s first national win as an amateur came at North Hants – Rose’s home course – in the 2016 Hampshire Hog, the event won in 1995 as a 14-year-old by the Ryder Cup star, who quickly became the country’s hottest young prospect.
And Rose was the Hampshire player to win the St Andrews Links Trophy back in 1997 – the summer he became the youngest player to appear in the Walker Cup, having been selected – like Jordan – after his win at St Andrews.
Rose is tied alongside two home stars in Russell Knox and Richie Ramsey as well as New Zealand’s Ryan Fox, Wiltshire’s Jordan Smith and Frenchman Victor Perez.
•For live scores from the third round of the Alfred Dunhill Links. click here.
Rose family helping relief effort in Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian
JUSTIN ROSE lives in Nassau, some 100 miles south of where the eye of the storm hit but it certainly has given Rose a hefty dose of reality.
Rose said before the event began: “We were very fortunate to get away with it.
“We caught the fringes of the storm. We had three days of 40-miles-an-hour wind but nothing to impact the house, nothing dangerous at all.
“Just coastal erosion, beach erosion, stuff like that. We feel very lucky to get away with it.
“You realise how vulnerable you are when you see the power of the storm and what it can do.
“Nassau has become very much the heart of the relief effort. That’s where my wife is, at a children’s home in Nassau, working and helping and doing what she can.
“A lot of us in the community have done as much fundraising as possible.
“Where I live at, Tiger Woods and Justin Timberlake have been involved in setting up a significant fund that can try to help some of the rebuilding process.
“In a small community like the Bahamas, when something so devastating happens, we definitely club together pretty well. It’s pretty devastating really to see.
“We can lose family, that’s one of the worst things that can happen. But to lose maybe your whole family and your whole family home. Kids are orphaned.
“There are going to be many stories of things like this. Golf is insignificant at that point. It’s always family first and these tragedies rip families apart.
“Those are very important things to think about when you get a little bit ahead of yourself and above your station.
“Your putt lips out and you think it’s the end of the world. Those are the moments when you’ve got to check yourself.”
McDowell wasn’t ready to play golf after holiday home was ‘flattened’
FORMER US Open winner Graeme McDowell and his family were lucky to escape after their holiday home on Abaco was “totally flattened.”
McDowell pulled out of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth last week because his mind was not on playing golf after the worst natural disaster in the Bahama’s history.
Some 1,300 people are still officially missing and 70,000 were made homeless after 180mph winds caused an estimated $7billion of damage to property.
McDowell said: “It was a beautiful community we lived-in but with the eye of the hurricane passing right over the island, every house was totally flattened.
“The winds were also so strong, I heard from a neighbour they found one of my wedges hundreds of yards away along the beachfront, and knew it was one of my clubs as it had my marking on it.
“More importantly, friends and so many people we had met down there have lost everything and while it was a vacation home for us, these people we’ve come to know so well, lived permanently on Abaco.
“It hurts Kristin and I to lose our house but to see people losing their lives down there along with people losing their homes – and now not knowing what to do with their lives – is an enormous tragedy that we are still trying to come to terms with.
“Since the hurricane we have been trying to help as much as we can in arranging for a truck of supplies carrying generators along with food and water, and trying to do every little bit to help in any way we can.
“At first, we didn’t know [the extent of the damage] as we had little communication from our own little community for nearly two weeks afterwards as it was also impossible to both fly into or fly out of local airports.
“There was also huge amount of violence and looting and things like that going on, so it’s been a very emotional month.”
McDowell, who was married on the beach by the golf course, revealed: “We had plans in place to be down at Abaco that very week the hurricane struck.
“But we pulled the plug on those plans about three or four days before the hurricane arrived,” he said.
“The last time I was down there was at the end of July for my 40th birthday.
“So, while we are talking about life and death here, the house was just a material thing for us that we can replace.
“What you have to worry about is that there is still over 1,000 people still not accounted for and that makes for scary stuff.”
Fellow Ulsterman Darren Clarke also had a holiday home in Abaco, which has staged the Hero World Challenge in recent years, and like McDowell, got married – to his second wife Alison – on the same beach.