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“It’s The Open.”

Ask hearty golf fans why they rose before the sun to see the opening tee shot of this year’s Open Championship and you will often hear the same answer.

Not much in golf can stir emotion quite like hearing the voice of the R&A announcer David Lancaster as the clock ticks over to 6:35am on Open Thursday. “Good morning everyone and welcome to Royal Liverpool for the first day’s play of the 151st Open. This is game number one…”

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Before that, the dilemma. Everyone I had spoken to this year’s championship had eulogised about the magical experience of being there for the first shot, even if they had taken in the action with dreary eyes.

It soon became clear that this is very much a bucket list activity, so in truth, I did not take much persuading.

So the 4:30 alarm was set and the journey from central Liverpool to the seaside began. There was some early morning angst as the toll queue for the other early risers grew on the other side of the Mersey Tunnel.

It wasn’t until the course came into view that the level of unease subsided and I realised the inadequate sleep that I had the night before would actually be worthwhile.

Hundreds of fans lined up round the corner for the opening of the gates and the breeze through the media entrance certainly wasn’t taken for granted as I quickly took my position for one of the sport’s great traditions.

And this year at Royal Liverpool, the occasion was that bit more special.

The people of Merseyside love to back one of their own and it doesn’t get much more ‘hometown hero’ than Matthew Jordan.

Jordan, a member on this course since the age of seven, has grown up on this Wirral links so it was only right he was bestowed the honour of getting things under way.

Matthew Jordan

And my word did his fans come out in support.

The roars befitted Sunday’s Champion Golfer as Jordan made the long walk from the clubhouse putting green and emerged onto the first tee.

Jordan had huge amateur success and now plays on the DP World Tour, but he surely hasn’t enjoyed a moment in his career quite like this one.

A spare seat in the grandstand could not be found for the opening blows of Jordan and his playing partners Richie Ramsay and Branden Grace. The dozens who were just too late scurried to a vantage point nearby.

And after a tense five-minute wait on the tee, some shaky first swings could be put down to understandable nerves.

Jordan will have split the fairway countless times on this 459-yard par-4, which plays as the 17th for members, but after first pulling away due to someone’s phone pinging, his effort was pulled well into the left rough.

“It was crazy, mental, loud – everything I could have wished for,” Jordan said, reflecting on the surreal moment in the mixed zone after a fine two-under opening round of 69.

Scotland’s Ramsay, meanwhile, pulled his shot so far left that he was afforded an early look at the adjacent 18th.

Grace, who still holds the record for the lowest round at an Open when he carded a 62 round the corner at Royal Birkdale, perhaps looked the least fazed as he also carded an opening four.

As Jordan made his way down the first fairway so did his army of fans from the grandstands, soon to be replaced when the headline groups including major champions Jordan Spieth, Matt Fitzpatrick and Jason Day would come through.

The majority who did depart were duly rewarded. Jordan composed himself to make an important sand save on the first and his followers were cheering again on the second.

You did not need to have one of the precious grandstand seats on the first that peers over the second green to realise who had just made birdie.

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And so this great championship, the last men’s major of the year, begins.

Take it all in – there are stories everywhere you look and it could be an absolute epic.

But if your mind is already wandering to Royal Troon in 2024 or the return to Royal Portrush a year later, put the opening tee shot on Thursday on your “must-do” list.

It really is worth that early alarm. Like they say: It’s The Open.

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Ben Parsons joined bunkered as a Content Producer in 2023 and is the man to come to for all of the latest news, across both the professional and amateur games. Formerly of The Mirror and Press Association, he is a member at Halifax Golf Club and is a long-suffering fan of both Manchester United and the Wales rugby team.

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