Paul Broadhurst has had plenty of time off over the last two months.

But he might be destined for an extra unexpected idle weekend watching football if his form does not improve around the Brabazon Course today.

A first round four-over par 76 was certainly not part of the plan he had for his return to tour duty after taking time off to look after his family while wife Lorraine recovers from surgery.

He might have had cause to expect better when he went through his first 10 holes in level par after responding to a double bogey five, when his tee shot fell short in the water at the par-three 12th, with birdies at the 13th and 17th.

But another double bogey at the par-four second followed by two more dropped shots at the fifth and the eighth left him well off the pace, and needing at least a 68 today to make the cut.

"I'll have to do better in the morning," said Broadhurst, "or I'll be watching a bit of football this weekend.

"Leeds are at home but I'm not going there at the moment and the Adders are playing s**t as well, so I'll have to improve."

In his heart of hearts, though, Broadhurst knew he was asking a lot of himself to suddenly click back into gear.

"I worked hard Monday and Tuesday on the range but you just can't pitch up and compete like that. I wad level at the turn but then that double lost me the momentum. And maybe I'll have a think now about whether I play again this year."

The Midlands' other former Ryder Cup player Peter Baker fared a little better with a two-over 74 which would have been better but for the luckless break that cost him a triple bogey at the long sixth.

"I hit a four wood which was lying off the fairway in some leaves. But what I hadn't seen was that they were covering a little stone just behind the ball and when I played my shot that sent it straight left, it hit a tree, went further into the trees and when I tried to hack it out I caught another tree on my back swing. Nightmare!

"It doesn't help when you have that hanging round your neck for the rest of the day, but apart from that I'd have been one under, and I'm playing all right so we'll see what tomorrow brings."

While Sam Walker was setting the local pace for the five Midlanders, his cousin Tom Whitehouse did not have such a good day on what is now his home track.

Nursing a back problem, he never felt comfortable. But, after a birdie at the sixth, the fates were not with him either.

After a bad break at the eighth when his approach hit the pin and shot off the green, from where he failed to get down in par, things started to turn against him when he was on the wrong end of a dubious ruling at the 10th.

Whitehouse's approach ended up spinning off to the left, to the edge of the water where he needed a drop to prevent his swing being impeded by the bridge. But the ruling was that his ball was actually in the hazard, and he was not allowed a free drop. Despite calling for a second rules official, their stance remained firm, and he ended up dropping a shot.

Another went at the next too, which he got back with a birdie three at the 13th. But he then turned a disappointing round into a bad one when he caught his approach to the 18th green fat, went in the water, put his fourth shot close, but then lipped out with the putt for a double bogey.

"I won't make any excuses about the back," said Whitehouse. "That double was what I deserved because I just didn't play well enough, simple as that."

As for The Belfry's other touring pro, Robert Rock also dropped back to three over at one point after a bogey at the fifth and a double at the sixth, but the Staffordshire golfer rescued his round with a big finish, enjoying birdies at the seventh and eighth to finish on 73.