Matthew Jordan contended at home, and changed his life in the process
HOYLAKE, England — We know where Matthew Jordan’s epic Open week ended — just off the 18th green, in an embrace with his father, thunderous applause from the arena of spectators above — but it’s a bit less obvious exactly where it began.
There was the rip-roaring finish to his Saturday round, four birdies in his finishing five holes, racing into Sunday’s last few tee times. He really wanted that. There was the starter calling out his name first Thursday morning at 6:45, commencing the 151st Open Championship, and the nerviest first round tee shot you could imagine. There was his 36-hole craic on July 4 at West Lancashire Golf Club, up the coast, qualifying for this Open with a career day of 65-69, 10 under.
If we really want to dial it back, we can go to February 2019, when the R&A announced Royal Liverpool, his home club, would host the 2023 Open. Jordan was 23 years old at the time and had just finished T34 in a pro-am tournament on the Sunshine Tour in South Africa. He was ranked 983rd in the world, but golfers have to dream big. They have no choice.
Jordan is the 329th-ranked player in the world for just a few more hours, until his T10 finish in this home Open registers with the OWGR Monday morning, and sends him soaring into the top 200. He’s now exempt into next year’s Open, too. He’ll have made more than $300,000 dollars, though he probably counts his money in British pounds or even the euro, as he traipses the continent on the DP World Tour. He’ll shoot up the Race to Dubai rankings and finish this season in a career-high there, too, which is all just another way of saying things are going really well right now. Obviously.
The Jordan story this week was always going to be more emotional than logical. Bets were placed on him simply because he was the local lad. He knows this course better than anyone in the field, carving out a 62 on the men’s championship tees a couple weeks ago. He’s won more club championships than he cares to keep track of. But as we saw too many times this weekend, it all makes sense in golf until it doesn’t. The sport is imbalanced in its forgiveness. You never know if you’ll have it during the week you want to have it most.
Jordan didn’t know he’d have it this week. Didn’t have a clue how he’d score when the strokes counted and the grandstands shield the wind and the best players in the world are tearing up your home track. “As long as the occasion didn’t affect me…” he said Friday afternoon after checking the first box: a made cut.
But you just never know. The wind gets up and the rain pours down and golf swings start to feel a bit foreign. Tommy Fleetwood, a superior player with just as many local vibes, was in second place, in the final pairing Saturday, and even he felt like he lost his swing for a bit. It happens.
“To be able to play and perform under kind of the pressure that I felt all week,” Jordan said, “like I haven’t felt calm or normal really the whole time. Which is great because it lets me focus and it kind of makes every shot mean something.”
It started with a two-under 69, wavered through a one-over 72, bounced into relevance with another 69 and then, of course, found him with a chance for birdie on the last. Who knows how many times he’s birdied the last. Hundreds? The crowd serenaded his every step and erupted when the 7-footer dropped.
“It was just the perfect finish to what has been the most unbelievable week,” Jordan said during his final press session. “Just rolling that in, I just so wanted to knock it in just for everyone who’s supported me, just to go mental one last time and crazy. They stuck with me even in the rain like this.”
The mud that accumulated from all that rain mixing with hundreds of thousands of fans will make Royal Liverpool a stinky place for a number of days. The stands will stay up Monday afternoon as corporate sponsors usher guests around RLGC, but workers had already begun breaking down scoreboards on the course Sunday evening. The build-up to these Opens is immense, but the tear-down is rather immediate. The golf world shows up on your doorstep in a hurry and then leaves just as quickly. Jordan gets to bask in it for a bit, at least until his next DP World Tour start. Next weekend, he has a tee time scheduled for ‘Royal Liverpool, host of the 2023 Open Championship’ alongside his girlfriend’s father and her sister’s fiancé. The idea of it brought a chuckle Sunday evening.
“I haven’t even thought of that,” he said. “How weird it’s going to be just going around just as practice because I’m probably going to remember everything I’ve done beforehand.
“Yeah, it’s going to be a strange feeling.”