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Matthew Jordan hails best experience after delighting home crowds with opening 69

Matthew Jordan hails best experience after delighting home crowds with opening 69

Matthew Jordan said he is struggling to think of a better experience after carding an opening 69 in front of friends and family at his home course of Royal Liverpool in the opening round of The 151st Open.

The Englishman, who has been a member of Royal Liverpool since he was seven years old, had the honour of hitting the opening tee shot at The 151st Open after earning his place in the field through Final Qualifying.

He spent part of last night visualising what it would be like to walk through the tunnel, be announced by the starter and watched on by friends and family, but the reality exceeded his expectations.

There was a big crowd of home fans joining friends and family to watch and cheer him on at the early hour of 6.35am. And despite the 5am wake up call and dealing with those pre-tournament nerves, Jordan said it was something he will never forget.

"That was the coolest thing I've ever experienced," said Jordan on completion of his opening round.

"One of the best feelings ever. I'm kind of running out of words to describe it. It was crazy, mental, loud, everything that I could have wished for.

"I'm certainly trying to think of a better experience than that, and I don't think I can.

"Emotion-wise I obviously knew it was coming, so I was just trying to go through my prep and make sure everything was going okay, and then I kind of envisioned the night before, just went through my head kind of going through the tunnel, it becoming loud, meeting the starter, meeting the players, and it gave me a bit of comfort that I knew what to expect so when I went there, there was nothing out of the blue.

"I knew the nerves would be there, as well, so I expected that, and from there on, just hit it."

Jordan's first tee shot landed in the left rough and his second into the greenside bunker, but a brilliant up-and-down to save par set the tone for the rest of his emotional morning.

He became the first man to make a birdie, rolling it in from 16 feet at the second, and quickly found his name at the top of the leaderboard with a tap-in birdie at the par five fifth. Jordan gave a shot back after missing the green on the sixth, but added a further gain at the eighth thanks to another approach to within ten feet, and made the turn in 33.

A tough lie in the greenside bunker at the 11th led to his final bogey of the day, and Jordan was a little surprised at just how penal it was from the sand.

"I hit it in both 11 and 15, the bunkers I hit it into to those pins, it's normally easy," he said. "I would have had no bother, but I did well just to get them both out. I'm surprised how harsh they are really, but I guess there you go, it's links golf. I had that one on 11 and one on 15. I haven't seen the bunkers like this at all. I don't know who's annoyed the green keeper, but yeah... they're just so flat and they're so penal. You just can't hit it in any bunkers whatsoever.

"We know how penal fairway bunkers are, but even the greenside bunkers this week, you can drop two shots just like that."

Although he found another at the par-five 15th, that time he was able to get down in two for par, and he poured in a birdie putt from 20 feet at the 16th a hole later. When he hit the green at the new and difficult par-three 17th, he couldn't help but smile at the reaction of the fans.

Matthew Jordan

"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'.

"I just hit the green and it was almost like I'd held it, to be honest. Everyone just went crazy, so I couldn't not smile. I just had about three or four moments out there where the emotion kind of took over and I had to smile."

It was an emotional day for Jordan in general, and after safely navigating 17 and the par-five 18th to sign for a 69, he admitted that it's a score he is pretty pleased with, especially with the added pressure and enjoyment of the supporting crowds.

"Obviously with the occasion and everything going on to start with, I'm really happy to certainly break 70," he said.

"I think that's one thing, if you do that, you certainly can't be displeased.

"To have that level of support and have people want you to do so well, it's just amazing. I had family and girlfriend's parents, girlfriend was there for the first six, seven holes. She had to work. I saw so many different members. It's hard to put a number on it and it's hard to actually tell you who was there. I just saw them dotted around all the time.

"If I focus on each shot, then obviously it doesn't matter, and then afterwards with some of the holes like we described one and 17 and stuff like that, that can take over, and I don't mind showing emotion as long as I'm ready for the next one."

Jordan now has the entire afternoon off as tee times stretch late into Thursday, and the 28 year old said that while he isn't too sure of how he will spend it, he will try and take it easy.

"I'm not too sure yet," he said. "I haven't figured that one out. I'm waiting until it's an appropriate time to eat lunch and then I might just touch up on a couple of things, especially with it being so early, and take it easy from there.

Asked if he'll spend much time visualising that first tee-shot again tomorrow to focus on his game rather than the emotions, he said it's likely to be on a lesser scale now that he knows what to expect.

"Something similar, however, I don't think I'll have to do it as much now, now that I'm in the tournament and now that I know what to expect," he added. "I think it'll come a bit more natural to me.

"Again, we'll just be doing the same stuff in terms of making sure that I hit the shots that I want to, that I know I should be doing anyway, and I think it'll be more like that, really more performance instead of an emotion side of it."

Jordan was the best of his group, with both Richie Ramsay and Branden Grace finishing at two over par. Their second round will begin on Friday at 11.36am.

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