What pressure? Hometown hero in contention after Round 1 of Open Championship
R&A via Getty Images
HOYLAKE, England — All the pressure was on Matthew Jordan. Turns out it didn’t bother him.
Jordan, 27, made it into the Open Championship through Final Qualifying two weeks ago, which made him the only golfer in this week’s field who is actually a Royal Liverpool member.
Jordan grew up down the road in West Kirby and lives in Hoylake. He’s the third generation of his family to be a member at Royal Liverpool, which is his primary place of practice when he’s not playing on the DP World Tour. Jordan even owns the course record (62) here. He’s got local knowledge, sure, but with that comes big expectations.
He even got the honor of leading off The Open, hitting the first ball of the first tee time at 6:35 a.m. local. Jordan woke up a little before 5 a.m., but he had already envisioned what the first-tee experience would be like the night before. He thought about going through the tunnel, hearing the roar of the crowd, greeting the starter and shaking hands with his playing partners.
“I knew the nerves would be there, so I expected that,” he said. “From there on, just hit it.”
Jordan didn’t disappoint. In front of several club members, friends, family and fans rooting for the local angle, Jordan shot a two-under 69 to sit near the top of the leaderboard midway through Day 1. Amateur Christo Lamprecht is the early leader, sitting at five under. But Jordan, just three off that pace, is in a good spot.
He made birdies on 2, 5 and 8 on the front nine and made another on 16.
His experience was evident in his approaches, as finding the correct spots on greens is a crucial component of links golf with all the slopes, swales and runoff areas. There’s still players left to tee off, but Jordan ranks first in strokes gained: approach, having gained 3.66 strokes on the field. (He’s also among the top 20 in strokes gained: off the tee.)
One of the bigger ovations from the home crowd came on the controversial par-3 17th hole, when he landed his approach 22 feet away from the pin. It wasn’t a particularly noteworthy shot, but anything off that green is destined for disaster. The gallery, waiting for their first action of the tournament, also knew who was teeing off. Their roar made Jordan flash a smile.
“I honestly didn’t expect them to go that crazy,” he said. “Even when I walked on I was smiling and I was trying to go, right, I’ve still got to hit the shot here.”
This is Jordan’s third Open at Hoylake, and all three have yielded very different experiences. In 2006, when he was 10, he was seeking autographs. In 2014, when he was 18 and a budding talent, he was inspired to play with those inside the ropes. Now all that’s on his mind is his second-round tee time. He’ll start at 11:36 a.m. Friday, and he’s expecting an even more enthusiastic crowd.
“People will probably have had a few more drinks (than today),” he said. “That’s one thing they couldn’t do is start drinking at 6:30. Well, maybe my dad was, if he was nervous.”