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The Open: Matthew Jordan, West Ham United golf bags and Super League stars - notebook from the week so far

Like all of the previous 150 editions, the 2023 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool has produced plenty of talking points on and off the course; We take a look at some you may have missed; Watch the exciting conclusion throughout the weekend live on Sky Sports Golf

The Open 2023 - Day Two - Royal Liverpool
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy lines up a putt on the 6th during day two of The Open at Royal Liverpool, Wirral. Picture date: Friday July 21, 2023.

As the 151st edition of The Open reaches the decisive final two days, we take a look at some of what has been going on in and around Royal Liverpool, and some of the storylines you may not have seen this week...

Hoylake welcomes The Open

The world's oldest major has not graced this part of the world for nine years, and this is only the third time it has come to Hoylake following the 39-year gap between Robert De Vicenzo's triumph in 1967 and Tiger Wood's victory in 2006.

It is no surprise the small Wirral seaside town with a population of just over 5,300 has therefore gone all out to welcome 156 of the world's best players competing over four days for the iconic claret jug at Royal Liverpool Golf Club.

What to watch on Sky Sports this week

The 151st Open – July 20 to 23 - LIVE on Sky Sports Golf
Fourth Men’s Ashes Test – July 19 to 23 – LIVE on Sky Sports Cricket
Premier League Summer Series – from July 23 - LIVE on Sky Sports Premier League
Hungarian Grand Prix – July 21 to 23 - LIVE on Sky Sports F1
F1 Juniors: Hungarian GP – July 23 – LIVE on Sky Sports Mix
World Matchplay Darts – July 17 to 23 – LIVE on Sky Sports Action
Women’s World Matchplay Darts – July 22 to 23 – LIVE on Sky Sports Action
IBF Lightweight Title Eliminator – July 23 – LIVE on Sky Sports Action

Enjoy live action from The Open, F1, The Ashes, Premier League and more with NOW

Anyone who has taken a walk down Market Street, the main road which leads to the course, will have seen everything from a pet shop with a golf-themed display in the window to a Volkswagen Beetle decorated in support of hometown competitor Matthew Jordan.

The image of Alex Noren seems to adorn every bus stop and billboard heading towards Royal Liverpool courtesy of his tie-up with clothing manufacturer Admiral too, although their apparent attempts to make the Swede into the new face of golf were perhaps hit slightly by him shooting one over across the first two rounds.

And for those who harbour hopes of playing in The Open but find themselves unable to due to the Royal and Ancient's rigid insistence on entries being restricted to players with actual golfing ability, there is an alternative.

St Luke's Methodist Church has a crazy golf course set up inside. Apt, in some ways - because while the sport itself is not mentioned in the Bible, there is not a golfer alive who has not prayed for divine intervention at some point during a round.

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Jordan the people's champion

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Local star Matthew Jordan had the honour of getting The 151st Open underway at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club, hitting the opening tee shot in front of a lively grandstand.

The aforementioned Jordan was guaranteed to attract attention at The Open just by virtue of the fact he came through Final Qualifying just over 18 miles up the coast at West Lancashire to earn a spot in the field on his own course.

But the family, friends, club members and enthusiastic locals who watched his every move from the moment he got the tournament under way as part of the first group out at 6.35am on Thursday were joined by a growing band of followers as the 27-year-old shot a two-under round of 69 on day one.

Jordan's wider popularity was firmly cemented in the second round, where a one-over 72 was enough to see him stay under par for the tournament and comfortably make the cut. Even so, the man himself was somewhat bemused by why he became an instant cult hero.

"I don't know," Jordan said. "Obviously, my mates are here, and I think if they sense you doing well, you kind of lift each other a bit.

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Matthew Jordan birdied the second hole at Royal Liverpool to make a fast start to the 151st Open Championship in Hoylake.

"I think maybe I've had a bit of support early on that more and more people have noticed that and then want to support themselves. I don't know if I'm liked or not, it's just I'm obviously very happy for everyone to keep coming."

More importantly though, Jordan hopes whatever happens on Saturday and Sunday, he can be an inspiration for aspiring golfers in the area.

"I hope what I'm doing with young lads and young girls, that they realise like how good golf can be and how rewarding it can be and they see what's going on," Jordan added. "That can inspire, say, the local area, and that's just obviously an added bonus of what's going on."

Sporting worlds collide

Billy Horschel is well known for showing his support for his old Florida Gators college team when out on the course, but this week the American has again been trekking around the links with a claret and blue bag featuring the badge of his other sporting love, West Ham United.

The Open 2022 - Day Three - St Andrews
A view of USA's Billy Horschel's club bag with a West Ham United logo on it during day three of The Open at the Old Course, St Andrews. Picture date: Saturday July 16, 2022.
Image: Billy Horschel's West Ham golf bag made another appearance at The Open this week

Unlike when he did the same at last year's PGA Championship at Wentworth, it is doubtful Horschel will have found much support for his allegiance in a part of the country where Liverpool and Everton dominate when it comes to the Premier League.

Off the course, players from Warrington Wolves and Salford Red Devils rugby league clubs were enjoying taking in the sights at Royal Liverpool on the first two days on a week without matches in the Betfred Super League.

Wolves captain Stefan Ratchford, and team-mates Matty Ashton and Peter Mata'utia were in attendance on Thursday. That was followed by reigning Super League Man of Steel Brodie Croft, England internationals Andy Ackers and Tyler Dupree, plus Ryan Brierley and Sam Stone all representing the Red Devils on Friday.

A day out at The Open probably went some way to making up for the disappointment that neither of their teams will be involved in this weekend's Betfred Challenge Cup semi-finals as well.

Oh brother, where art thou?

Brothers playing at The Open is not an unusual occurrence. Indeed, Harry Vardon's nearest challenger when he lifted the claret jug in 1903 at Prestwick was his younger sibling Tom.

But 2023 marks the first occasion twins have appeared in the same tournament in the form of Danish duo Rasmus and Nicolai Hojgaard.

Their golfing careers have been as intertwined as their lives. Both turned professional in 2019 and two years later became the first brothers in DP World Tour history to win on consecutive weeks.

But just as was the case when they both appeared at the PGA Championship earlier this year, it was Nicolai who made the cut while Rasmus failed to make the weekend after finishing seven over after two rounds. However, the former knows he can count on the latter's support come Saturday and Sunday.

Denmarks Nicolai Hojgaard, left, and his identical twin brother Rasmus Hojgaard on the 19th green during a practice round for the British Open Golf Championships at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England, Wednesday, July 19, 2023. The Open starts Thursday, July 20. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Image: Twins Nicolai Hojgaard and Rasmus Hojgaard practicing together ahead of The Open

"We are trying to win every time against each other when we play but at the same time, we cheer each other on if one of us performs really well," Nicolai said.

This year marked the first time since 1985, when Seve and Manuel Ballesteros and Tateo and Naomichi Ozaki were in the field, that two sets of brothers were competing thanks to Matt and Alex Fitzpatrick qualifying as well.

Unlike the Hojgaard twins though, the English sibling both made the cut after each finished two over for two rounds.

Big names miss the cut

One wag in the crowd was overheard to sarcastically remark "That's LIV Golf for you" after Dustin Johnson bogeyed the 12th in a Friday round of 81 which led to him finishing 13 over for the tournament, but the four-time major winner was not the only big name to miss the weekend.

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Justin Thomas' first round at The Open was one to forget and nothing summed it up more than the nine shots he took on the 18th hole.

For the second year in a row, 2021 champion Collin Morikawa (+4) was out. So too was 2018 victor Francesco Molinari (+6). Justin Rose, Shane Lowry (both +6) and Justin Thomas (+11) were other notables to fall by the wayside.

Meanwhile, reigning champion Cameron Smith (+2) just snuck in under the cut line of three over. Links golf is certainly no respecter of reputation.

Watch The 151st Open throughout the week exclusively live on Sky Sports. Live coverage continues on Sky Sports Golf. Stream The Open and more with NOW for £21 a month.

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