Number Crunching 2012: Matthew Baldwin
Who climbed and who dropped in 2012? Through Dec. 31, Golfweek.com takes a look at players who made significant moves up or down in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index this year.
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Ranking/movement: +389 (No. 619 to No. 230)
Why the rise? Patience and capitalizing on opportunities.
Baldwin, a 26-year-old Englishman, finished 10th on last year’s European Challenge Tour to earn his way onto this year’s European Tour. That earned him 26 starts, which Baldwin turned into a 72nd-place finish on the money list.
After beginning the season with a joint 10th in the Africa Open, Baldwin missed three cuts before making eight of the next 10. However, a tie for 59th at the U.S. Open may have proved the most rewarding.
“Making the cut in the U.S. Open was a huge boost for my confidence,” said Baldwin, who turned pro in 2008 and spent two years on mini-tours before playing the Challenge Tour.
The tour rookie proved that three tournaments later when he tied for fifth at the Scottish Open to earn 111,278 euros and secure his card for the 2013 season. “That took the pressure off me,” he said. “It meant I didn’t have to worry if I’d have a job next year.”
Baldwin’s statistics don’t exactly shout “great season,” but he was above average in several important categories, most notably greens in regulation, ranking 22nd at 73.7 percent, a figure made even more impressive by the fact that he was 143rd in driving distance (284.48 yards). That’s an indicator of strong iron play. Baldwin was 60th in driving accuracy, hitting 65.63 percent of fairways. His stroke average was 71.11 (61st). However, Baldwin was 199th in putts per round (30.7). If he can improve that last figure, he could rise even more in 2013.
Baldwin says: “I used to get impatient, but (sports psychologist) Lee (Crumbleholme) has helped me stay much more focused on the golf course, much more patient.”