Matthew Jordan, a 21-year-old from Merseyside, made one R&A member in the Big Room overlooking the Old Course a proud and happy man after surviving a nervy finish to join Justin Rose among the English winners of the St Andrews Links Trophy.
Twenty years after Rose triumphed at the home of golf early in his career, Royal Liverpool player Jordan emulated his compatriot on a day when heavy showers frequently swept in from the west to leave competitors drookit in the final two rounds over the Old Course.
Jordan, an unassuming young man from Hoylake, closed with scores of 69 and 70 for an 11-under-par 277 total, winning by a shot from Irishman John Ross Galbraith, with Australian Ben Ferguson a further stroke back in third after a dramatic finish as the sun popped its head out.
Helped by covering the first seven holes in the final round in four-under, Jordan was four shots clear on the 17th fairway before finishing bogey-bogey, three-putting the last from near the back of the green.
Ferguson then birdied the 16th and 17th to get within one only to drop a shot at the last when he needed a 3 to force a play-off. He later admitted that he’d been “too cute” with a shot that ended up in the Valley of Sin. Playing in the final group, Galbraith required an eagle at the last but had to settle for a birdie.
“This is the first time I’ve actually played in the Links Trophy,” said a relieved but delighted Jordan, before revealing that his grandfather is R&A member Anthony Jordan, a former top badminton player who won a silver medal in the Commonwealth Games. “Through him, I’ve played the Old Course three times and I loved it,” he added.
Even more so now obviously after recording the biggest win of his career, one that had been on the cards. In recent weeks, Jordan had finished seventh in the Lytham Trophy, fourth in the Irish Open Stroke-Play, fifth in the Brabazon Trophy and, seven days before this success, second in the Scottish Open Stroke-Play at Western Gailes.
He’s not in the Great Britain & Ireland squad for the Walker Cup in Los Angeles in September, but more of the same over the next few weeks, starting in the Amateur Championship in Kent next week, and he’ll definitely be a contender for Craig Watson’s 10-strong side.
“I felt I needed to win something big and hopefully the selectors are noticing me now,” he said.
On following in Rose’s footsteps, Jordan added: “My previous biggest win came last year in the Hampshire Hog at North Hants, where Justin is a member, and now with this as well, it is a nice connection to have. It would nice, too, if I could go on to be as successful as he’s been in his career.”
While unable to get close enough to put Jordan under any pressure, Liam Johnston put in another solid performance. A week after winning the Scottish Stroke-Play Championship at Western Gailes, the 24-year-old Dumfries & County player finished seventh on six-under.
He birdied four of the first five holes in a morning 69 before signing off with a 71.
“I didn’t make enough birdies to compete at the top of the leaderboard, but it is another good week, especially when I wasn’t firing on all cylinders,” he said. “My lag-putting was great, but I just didn’t give myself enough chances. In the second round, I only had two birdies [as was the case in the final round].”
Johnston isn’t among the five Scots in that Walker Cup squad. Like Jordan, that won’t stop him being selected, though, and he will certainly have caught the attention of the selectors over the past few months, having also claimed the African Amateur title at Leopard Creek in March.
“I still think I’m on the fringes big time,” he said. “I’ve just got to keep producing the results and see what happens. Hopefully I’ve done enough to get into the six-man Scotland side for the upcoming European Team Championship as that was one of my goals at the start of the year, but the Walker Cup is the big one at the end of the season.”