Mark Baldwin seizes 36-hole lead at Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper
July 27, 2018
By Staff, PGATOUR.COM
- July 27, 2018
- Mark Baldwin on the green during his second round at the Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper. (Royce Thompson/PGA TOUR)
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Mark Baldwin has a tip for every aspiring pro out there. Always mark your golf balls before you get to the first tee. He might be onto something. Through two rounds of the Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper, the 34-year-old from Laconia, New Hampshire has posted scores of 65-64, and at 15-under, is one-stroke ahead of Martin Trainer and Jose de Jesus Rodriguez heading into the weekend.
“You get on the first tee and you get all these nerves and stressed out a little bit.,” he said. “When you feel like you’re pinched for time and now you have to mark all these golf balls, all of a sudden, the anxiety really kicks in full bore.”
Baldwin’s 36-hole performance is impressive given the way he has played this season. The Web.com Tour rookie has made five cuts in 17 starts and posted one top-25. He is currently ranked No. 144 on the money list after a T46 at the Pinnacle Bank Championship presented by Heartland Chevy Dealers last week.
“I’ve missed so many cuts this year that you kind of have to start accepting that the downside is a real possibility,” said Baldwin. “Especially on this Tour where everyone is so good, and the field is so deep. You can actually go through a season and play halfway decent and miss a lot of cuts out here.”
“If you let that affect your overall outlook, the way you see yourself and your overall identity, it’s going to be really hard to recover,” he continued. “I think feeling like I hit that bottom and there was nowhere to go but up has really helped. If it doesn’t go that well it’s not the end of the world. I’ve had two incredible days and I’m going to have two more incredible days, but it’s golf and you never really know.”
Baldwin hasn’t let his first season on Tour go to waste. Rather than sulk each week, the Notre Dame University graduate has spent time learning from those who have enjoyed success this season. He’s played numerous rounds with guys inside the top 25 on the money list and came away surprised with how close his game actually is. He’s even tried to adopt the mentality that he’s already inside the number needed to secure a PGA TOUR card this season.
“I would say my confidence on the season is as high as it’s ever been,” he said. “Early in the year getting my feet wet out here on the Web.com Tour, learning the ropes, it’s been a slow process. But it seems like every week I pick up something new and I’ve been playing with a lot of gold bibbers lately.”
“A lot of them were nice enough to let me pick their brains a little bit and I can see that what I’m doing isn’t all that different from what their doing,” he continued. “Even though they’ve made a couple more dollars than I have this season.
The nice thing is I can take what I’ve learned and put in to action for the three and half events now left before Finals. Hopefully, that all culminates this weekend, and I hit my stride.”
Baldwin’s demeanor on and off the course has allowed him to remain positive through the adversity. Being on the outside looking in doesn’t bother the Mesa, Arizona resident. He believes he can achieve success by simply carrying himself like those ahead of the him on the money list.
“I think in the larger scheme of things you have to look at where the guys are in their year,” he said. “A lot of them have secured Finals and PGA TOUR status. With where I am, I’m up against guys who are on a free roll. I’ve almost tricked myself into believing that’s where I am. They are playing so freely and shooting at pins that maybe they wouldn’t otherwise shoot at. And they are calm when they are doing it.”
Baldwin enters the weekend with the first 36-hole lead of his career. The nerves of being in contention will be as high as when he gained Tour status with a T42 at the Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament last December, where he birdied the 71st hole to secure spot in the first eight events of the season. Baldwin knows that the two players on his heels have won this season but feels like he’s playing with house money because his results haven’t been what he’d hoped.
“Honestly golf just doesn’t feel like it’s that important right now,” he said. “I think that’s a good thing. There’s some stuff going on in my life and world if you’re paying attention to the news. And golf feels like this small microcosmic thing right now. I think that’s a really good mentality to have going out there.”
“I’m kind of a laid-back player and to feel that way among the heat of competition when a lot of guys are going to be out there feeling that way just because they’ve secured so much status for next season,” continued Baldwin. “Those are the guys that I’m up against. Jose and Martin Trainer, they’ve had incredible years. When the pressure does kick in and it will kick in, I think I’ll be ready for it. I know that playing with that pressure is a privilege and something that I’ve envisioned myself doing for a while.”
#WebTour rookie @MarkBaldwin1 has slept in a thatched hut.— Web.com Tour (@WebDotComTour) July 27, 2018
He has consumed roasted bugs.
He has driven a golf cart off a cliff.
The golf is the easy part.
The @NDMensGolf alum leads @PriceCutterCC after rounds of 65-64. pic.twitter.com/aaHzF8GAAI
* Friday weather: Partly cloudy. High: 82, Winds: S-SE 4-8 mph.
* The cut came at 7-under 137 with 69 players advancing to the weekend. It ties the lowest 36-hole cut in Tour history (1991 Dakota Dunes Open, 2004 Henrico County Open, 2006 Chattanooga Classic).
* The Price Cutter Charity Championship is the 200h of 23 Regular Season events on the Web.com Tour. The first 25 of 50 available PGA TOUR cards for 2018-19 will be determined when the Regular Season concludes at the WinCo Foods Portland Open presented by Kraft Heinz on Aug. 19.
* Four second-round leaders/co-leaders have gone on to win during the 2018 season, most recently Eric Axley at the North Mississippi Classic.
* The Web.com Tour has produced 17 first-time winners this year. With 36 holes to play at Highland Springs CC, there are currently seven players inside the top 10 looking for their first Tour title.
* Kyle Jones is two back after second-round 68. Jones has posted three top-10s this season with his best showing, a T2 coming at the LECOM Health Challenge. Jones is currently No. 29 on the money list and would need a three-way tie for third or better to secure his PGA TOUR card for the first time.
* Vince Covello carded a back-nine 30 en route to a 7-under 65. Covello recorded his best showing of the season last week at the Pinnacle Bank Championship presented by Heartland Chevy Dealers (T6). Covello started the week at No. 84 on the money list but is projected to move inside the top 75 with a top-10 showing in Springfield.
* Alex Prugh followed up and opening 73 with a 70 on Friday. Prugh has recorded a second (Rust-Oleum Championship) and a T10 (Pinnacle Bank Championship) on his way to No. 32 on the money list. Prugh needs a solo third or better to secure a return to the PGA TOUR.
* Max Homa has not posted a top-10 on Tour since a T7 at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay. Homa, a two-time Tour champion is currently No. 75 on the money list entering the week. In his last 11 starts, Homa has made three cuts.
* Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament medalist Lee McCoy missed five cuts in a row entering the week. McCoy carded 68-68 and is T39 heading into the weekend at the Price Cutter Charity Championship. McCoy, a former standout at the University of Georgia, is currently No. 111 on the money list. The top 100 after Portland will be exempt into the final stage of the Qualifying Tournament and given conditional status for the following season.
* Leading money winner Sungjae Im is T39 after a 67-69 start. Im has led the money list the entire season and has a $109,343 lead over Scott Langley after a runner-up performance at the Pinnacle Bank Championship. Im has played 67 rounds this season and posted eight scores over par.
Scoring Average for Highland Springs Country Club for the week:
Front (36) Back (36) Total (72)
Round 1: 34.426 34.387 68.813
Round 2: 34.825 34.740 69.565