Oh we do like to be beside the seaside, even if this particular seaside was so dour and damp, you almost expected moss to start growing on your waterproofs.

Southport was decidedly bracing for the opening day of the Betfred British Masters here at Hillside. After the pleasant climes of places like Mauritius, Australia and the Middle East during the early sojourns of the 2019 season, the European Tour’s first visit to its home continent should have been accompanied by a warning from the Met Office.

The general dreichness may have been something of a shock to the system to those used to more agree-able temperatures but the surprise package of Matthew Jordan found plenty of home comforts in the parky surroundings as he surged to the top of the standings with a shimmering show in just the ninth European Tour appearance of his fledgling professional career.

While all the attention was on tournament host and Southport’s finest, Tommy Fleetwood, Jordan barged his way into the limelight with a superbly crafted nine-under 63 which set a Hillside course record and left him two shots clear of Marcus Kinhult and Matt Wallace.

As a native of Hoylake, just down the coast on the Wirral, Jordan is well-versed in this type of seaside golf and his amateur record is burnished by some notable conquests on the links stage.

He was a winner north of the border in the St Andrews Links Trophy in 2017 and was runner-up in the Scottish Open Strokeplay in that same season. A walloping nine-shot victory in last year’s Lytham Trophy, during his final campaign in the unpaid ranks, bolstered that impressive resume.

Jordan doesn’t actually have a full category for any tour and is still trying to gain a foothold but a late invitation to this week’s event has been grabbed with both hands.

“I only found out on Sunday that I was in but I guess the later you get in the better it is as you don’t have much time to think about it,” said Jordan, who once managed to get his

handicap down to plus-seven. “Links golf just suits my eye really, especially on the greens. I just seem to see the lines having been brought up on links.”

The 23-year-old wasted no time in making his mark with a barrage that could have flattened a military redoubt. After shooting a 10-under round during a Challenge Tour event in Turkey recently, Jordan’s nine-birdie effort yesterday kept up the low-scoring habit. Not that it’s a habit he’s really used to.

“Because I’m a member at Hoylake, you get used to shooting maybe one or two-under off the championship tees,” he said of the robust Open championship course. “But having gone very low a couple of weeks ago in Turkey, I kind of fed off that experience.

“My round started perfectly and from then on I just kept it going. You start to realise you’re doing quite well because more people turn up and you see a couple of cameras. I was nervous maybe for a couple of holes, like around 11 and 12, and then I settled back into it which was strange.”

The Walker Cup, which Jordan played in back in 2017, will be staged at his home town club this year but he put his professional ambitions first.

“I was tempted to stay amateur for another year for the sentimental value of playing a Walker Cup at Hoylake but I felt it was the right time to turn pro when I did last September,” he said. “I needed to make the step up.”

Perched proudly at the summit, Jordan was looking down on the likes of former world No.1 Lee Westwood, who birdied six of his first seven holes in a 66, and the aforementioned tournament host Fleetwood, who opened with a 68.

“I’ve known Matthew for a long time, we all know what he’s capable of,” said Fleetwood as he lavished praise on his young compatriot. “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 and now the experience of being at the topof the leaderboard will be good for him.”

Fleetwood himself was happy enough with his four-under card which started with a good par save over the trees on the first and a raking putt on the second for an eagle.

“That was a real momentum boost and I gained a couple of shots in those two holes,” he said.

Fleetwood, the world No.16, is an increasingly well-kent face on the global scene. Seeing his own face plastered on the side of a bus in his home town, however, still takes a bit of getting used to.

“It’s surreal,” he said of the various bits of promotional paraphernalia that are dotted around the Southport vicinity. “My dad has even been behind the wheel of the bus. It is a pretty special thing for my parents. They’ve lived in Southport their whole lives and now their son’s face is on the side of the bus.

“My dad would probably have to have a few drinks before he admitted how proud he was. But I can tell how proud they are. When I saw them, they were giddy and hyper.”