Matt’s the spirit - a strong start to The 151st Open for Hoylake’s homegrown hero

Picture above: The first shot on the first hole of the first day of The Open. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

Royal Liverpool member Matt Jordan had the honour of hitting the first shot of The 151st Open, and ended his round at Hoylake with a more than honourable 2 under par 69.

If expectations and the dramatically early start at 6.35am were weighing down on Matt he shrugged them off, making birdies at the 2nd and 5th before dropping a shot at 6, clawed back with another birdie at the 8th. 

Just one birdie on the back nine may have frustrated him, but no doubt his par at Royal Liverpool’s new, talking point and potentially treacherous par 3 short hole, the 130 yarder 17th called Little Eye, put a spring in his final steps down 18. He made his par 5, took generous applause with a smile and, at time of writing, is tied 4th.


Job well done. Matt just after completing his round.  (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

Matt came through the ranks at Hoylake, from young junior to a fine amateur who represented Great Britain and Ireland in the Walker Cup of 2017, held at Los Angeles Country Club, before turning professional.

Earlier this year he talked about how Hoylake’s new 17th hole might impact The Open Championship.

“Someone’s dreams will be over or they’ll be made,” he said.

“I do see it potentially deciding the championship. I don’t want to put my neck on the line but I certainly think we will see something happen there. Whether it’s from the leader or maybe someone in fourth or fifth place.”

As anyone who has played the hole will tell you, there is little margin for error. Trouble is on all sides and deep, tough bunkers beckon to any slightly wayward strike.


Little Eye: Hoylake’s new par 3 17th (Photo by Kevin Murray)

Like all links golf, how the new hole plays will be determined by conditions. “It depends on the weather,” said Matt. “The guys are so good now that if there is no wind, 130 yards, it is not going to create too much drama. However, if you get the prevailing wind and people have to start trying to knock down eight and seven irons then it becomes so much tougher.  

“Then you will get a variety of twos, threes, fours, even fives. So it will certainly be interesting.”

He also sees “Little Eye” as a scene within a much bigger drama that will play out over the closing stretch of holes with the new tee extending the last to more than 600 yards. 

“Especially now that they have brought in the out of bounds on Open18. So those two holes, with the par-5 15th as well, are going to create a big amount of drama when a lot can change.  

“I think that was the idea behind “Little Eye”. It is short enough for guys to birdie but if you miss that green you are in trouble.”

Golf in general, and Royal Liverpool in particular, wishes Matt well tomorrow.