Peter Baker will spend this week wondering how to cure the putting problem that is threatening to thwart his planned return to the European Tour.

The former Ryder Cup player from Wolverhampton turned up at The Belfry in confident mood this week looking to hone his game back in a top quality field. And, although his work from tee to green was excellent, his putting wasn't.

"I can't remember how many three putts I had," said Baker, after a painful double bogey at the last when he had stood over a 15-footer for his par. "But I do know I've got to putt better than this over the next few weeks."

Baker has four events left on the Challenge Tour, starting in Brittany on Thursday week, to consolidate the Top 20 spot that would earn him his main European Tour card back. And he knows it's all down to how he putts.

Responding to a first round two-over 74, he did get two early birdies inside the first three holes yesterday to get back to level. But they then went at the fifth and sixth, and he came back in 40 to slump to a 76, the same as his good pal Paul Broadhurst.

Paul Broadhurst also has some thinking to do over the weekend. He must make a decision as to whether he will play at all again this season after a disappointing return to competitive golf.

The father of four had played just once in two months due to the pressure of domestic chores following wife Lorraine's operation. But, after running up a second successive 76 to crash out on eight over, he admitted that having so much time off, even in such a good cause, was no way to prepare for a tournament.

"I knew my game wasn't in shape as I've just not been able to practise," he said ."I just hoped I might find something. But I've not got into any sort of rhythm over the two days.

"I knew I needed to improve today but I got off to a bad start when I bogeyed the second, I had a double at the 8th, another bogey at the 9th and once you know the cut's gone there's no interest and I couldn't wait to get off the golf course."

In dreadful conditions, Broadhurst did at least play the last nine holes in level par. But, despite the lure of trying to make it to the lucrative Volvo Masters at Valderrama by playing again in Scotland in the Alfred Dunhill in a bid to make it back into the top 60 and earn an automatic invite, he admits that plan may now have to be scrapped.

"I had thought about playing the Dunhill, but I'm still not going to be able to practise much.

"The wife's okay, she's on the mend and it's just rest she needs as she's not allowed to do anything. But I'll have a think over the weekend and see."