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The Open: Local hero Matthew Jordan sends Liverpool crowds wild with dream start at his home club

<i>Richard Sellers/AP</i><br/>Matthew Jordan tees off to start the 151st Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Wirral
Richard Sellers/AP
Matthew Jordan tees off to start the 151st Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Wirral

By Jack Bantock, CNN

(CNN) — Thunderous applause, raucous cheers and not an empty seat in sight: it was the sort of atmosphere you might expect to follow Tiger Woods on a Sunday at Augusta National, not so much the world No. 329 teeing off at 6:35 a.m. on a Thursday.

But when local hero Matthew Jordan struck the first shot of the Open Championship at his home club, Royal Liverpool, the roar sounded more like the celebrations of a goal at nearby Anfield.

Born a stone’s throw away on the Wirral Peninsula, the 27-year-old has driven from the course’s first tee more times than most of the major’s field have played events in England, but this time was unlike any of the countless previous swings.

“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,” Jordan told reporters.

“I envisioned the night before – just went through my head 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, so I expected that. From there on, just hit it.”

It was not an ideal start. After the opening drive skewed left in a bunker beside the fairway, his second shot again found sand next to the green.

Yet the response was superb, as Jordan escaped the bunker before lasering a putt from almost 15 feet to save par. Dropping in the tournament’s first birdie at the subsequent hole only upped the decibel levels of the crowds that followed him in droves throughout the round.

There were familiar faces aplenty behind the ropes: club members, friends, family and a girlfriend, Kate Harry, who made it through seven holes before having to return to work with the DP World Tour.

Thomas was assured her exit had nothing to do with a slip up at the sixth hole.

“She didn’t see me make bogey and leave, she had to go and work,” Jordan said.

“She got up before me early at 6:00 … and she’s not finishing until 9:00 herself. She’s got a few brownie points there, and I’ll have to treat her to a sandwich or something.”

‘Crazy, mental, loud’

There were few further errors that followed, a bogey at the 11th hole the only further blemish on a terrific opening round two-under 69, as he birdied the 16th and held par on the notoriously challenging par-three 17th.

Making only his second major appearance after debuting at the 150th edition of the Open at St. Andrews last year, it puts Jordan in a good position to make it to the weekend of a major for the first time.

“I’m kind of running out of words to describe it,” said Jordan, who has one win on the Challenge Tour, a tier below the DP World Tour.

“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.”

Jordan tees off for his second round Friday at 11:36 a.m. BST (6:36 a.m. ET), a later time that he believes could make for even more noise.

“People will probably have had a few more drinks, I think,” Jordan said.

“That’s one thing they couldn’t do is start drinking at 6:30 – well, maybe my dad was if he was nervous.

“I think it’ll probably be very similar … as I start to go in more, start to come down the stretch, I think it will get louder and louder.”

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