Englishman Matthew Baldwin gave further credence to the power of positive thought when he moved into the lead at the halfway stage of the Golf Open Grand Toulouse on the European Challenge Tour.
The 25 year old from Southport carded a superb second round 63 at Golf de Toulouse-Seilh in south west France for a 12 under par total of 130 and a two shot lead over first round pacesetter Christophe Brazillier of France, who posted a 70 for 132, and Sweden’s Robin Wingardh who notched a 67 for the same total.
Currently 29th on the Challenge Tour Rankings and therefore within touching distance of the top 20 who will gain playing privileges on The 2012 European Tour at the end of the season, Baldwin revealed he is using every possible means to make the step up, including trying to harness the mental side of the game.
For most of this year, the Englishman has been working with sports psychologist Lee Crombleholme and admitted he is seeing a positive effect, as illustrated by four top 25 finishes in his last four outings on the Challenge Tour.
“I only actually see Lee about three or four times a year but I call him most tournament days,” said Baldwin, who carded four birdies in each half in a flawless second round showing, including birdie twos at each of the three par threes on the inward half of the Seilh venue.
“All the lads out here on Tour speak about all aspects of the game and while everyone probably knows how you should think out on the golf course, sometimes in the heat of competition you can forget. The calls I make to Lee hopefully help me remember.”
Leading the pursuit of Baldwin was another man heavily involved in the mental side of the game, Robin Wingardh, who turned professional in June after successfully completing a degree in sports psychology at the University of Tennessee.
The 23 year old from Helsingborg reached the turn in level par but like Baldwin, gathered four birdies on the back nine to give him a chance of his first Challenge Tour title in this, his sixth outing of the season.
“I’ve always been interested in the mental side of the game and I just think that now, with seemingly every player out here getting better and better, you need to give yourself every possible advantage,” he said.
Alongside Wingardh, first round leader Christophe Brazillier could not repeat the fireworks of his course record 62 but the encouraging thing for the 31 year old Frenchman was the fact that he has yet to drop a shot in 36 holes, his second round 70 featuring 17 pars and one solitary birdie three at the fourth.
“It just goes to show how funny a game golf can be at times,” said Brazillier, who is currently 58th on the Challenge Tour Rankings. “I tried just as hard as I did yesterday and indeed I hit all 18 greens in regulation today but I just couldn’t find a putt.”
Five players share fourth place on nine under par 133 going into the weekend; the French trio of Damien Perrier, Julien Quesne and Victor Rui alongside Ireland’s Simon Thornton and Gary Lockerbie of England.
The pick of the quintet proved to be Lockerbie who added a fine 64 to his opening 69, the 28 year old surging up the leaderboard courtesy of a strong finish to his round which saw him notch birdies at the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth holes.
“I’m currently 68th on the Rankings so my main goal is to try and make the top 45 who qualify for the Grand Final,” he said. “If I can do that, then you never know.”