In the most appetising of the four afternoon matches, ‘The Hammer’ pounded to a 3-0 win against the man who beat world number one Colin Lloyd on his way to the quarter-finals 12 months ago.
It was a patchy display, especially on the doubles, by Hamilton, who burst on to the scene by reaching the last eight himself in Purfleet two years ago and has surged up the rankings since.
Welding was handed a lifeline in the third set when Hamilton, throwing for the match, misread his own score and hit the double two required by his opponent to bust the five he needed.
But the World Matchplay semi-finalist’s greater consistency on the treble 20 was the major difference.
“I just lost track and didn’t look at the scoreboard,” said the 39-year-old Stoke publican of hitting the wrong double. I thought I’d left double two and I hit it, but it wasn’t my double.”
Hamilton will meet either 2005 runner-up Mark Dudbridge or America’s John Kuczynski in round two.
Wayne Jones, who beat Welding in last year’s quarter-finals, sustained his hopes of another good run with a 3-0 triumph against qualifier Ian Branks.
The 41-year-old from Wolverhampton knows, however, that he will have to raise his game to have any chance in the next round against fifth seed Adrian Lewis, who did not drop a leg when thrashing Australia’s Tony Fleet on Tuesday night.
“I really wanted to play much better than I did, it was very poor,” said Jones, who lost to eventual runner-up Peter Manley in last year’s semi-finals.
“But a win’s a win so at least I’ve got time to put it right. I was going to ask for a measurement to see if the board was right because I’ve been practising brilliantly.
“And it was much quieter in the crowd than normal, but they didn’t really have a lot to shout about.”
Two more seeds fell as Scunthorpe’s Dave Ladley got the better of world number 22 Lionel Sams, progressing 3-1 on his debut, while Colin Monk was knocked out by Denmark’s Per Laursen.
Conqueror of fifth seed Tony Eccles at the Lakeside World Championship in January, Laursen was coolness personified as he went through 3-0 and could face Dennis Priestley in the next round.