HOYLAKE – Matthew Jordan has been given the honor of hitting the first tee shot at the 151st British Open. He'll know exactly where to put it.
The 27-year-old Jordan lives in Hoylake and is a member at Royal Liverpool. No surprise, then, that he has been approached by a number of players about the optimal way to get around the course.
He hasn't been giving much away.
“I might pick and choose what I tell people,” Jordan said Monday.
For the two British Opens staged at Hoylake since the turn of the century — won by Tiger Woods in 2006 and Rory McIlroy in 2014 — Jordan was a wide-eyed spectator enthralled with seeing the best players of the world right in front of him.
He said he “froze” when Woods walked past him and through the clubhouse.
“In ’06, he was on the putting green,” Jordan recalled about Woods, “and I don’t think I moved for 20 minutes.”
He remembers getting up early enough to see the first group out. On Thursday, he'll be among them — his tee time is 6:35 a.m. — on a course where he has previously shot 62.
“I remember when I was 16, I shot a 69 off the backs here, which is one of my first amazing rounds,” Jordan said.
So, the No. 329-ranked Jordan was asked, could he be a factor in the championship on his home course?
“When I come away from this next week, I just want to play the golf course like I know I can, like I do in practice, like I normally will if I’m here preparing for any other events,” he said.
“And if I feel like I can do that, then I know that I can do well around here.”
Cameron Smith says he didn’t do anything too crazy with the claret jug from winning the British Open last year.
But he has one strong memory from taking the prized trophy home to Australia. He was the first Australian to win the British Open since Greg Norman in 1993.
“I took it back to my home club in Brisbane and it was actually timed perfectly,” Smith said.
He said the club had an awards night where it presented the trophy to the club champion along with all the other golf events from the year.
“It was one of the first nights I got back to Australia, so brought the claret jug there, had all the members there, and, yeah, had a ripping night,” he said. “For a little country club outside of Brisbane to have the claret jug in it, I think was a pretty cool moment,” he said.
All signs point toward Rory McIlroy being able to end his streak of 33 majors over nine years without winning.
The British Open is at Royal Liverpool, where McIlroy went wire-to-wire in 2014, the last time the Open was here.
But he has two things working against him historically.
It has been 10 years since anyone captured the Scottish Open and British Open in consecutive weeks — Phil Mickelson in 2013 at Castle Stuart and then Muirfield.
Also working against him? No one has ever won the claret jug twice at Royal Liverpool.
PAYNE STEWART AWARD
Former NBC Sports analyst and six-time PGA Tour winner Gary Koch has been selected to receive the Payne Stewart Award.
The award has become of the top honors on the PGA Tour, given annually to a player who exemplifies character, charity and sportsmanship. It began after Stewart died in a private plane crash in 1999, the year he won the U.S. Open.
Koch won the Florida Open as a 16-year-old amateur, helped lead Florida to an NCAA title and won six times on tour. He is equally known for his second career, working 33 years for ESPN and then NBC Sports. His most famous call was, “Better than most,” when Tiger Woods holed a 60-foot birdie putt on the island-green 17th hole at The Players Championship in 2001.
Koch will be honored Aug. 22 in Atlanta during the Tour Championship.