THE eyes of the world fell on Wirral on Thursday as the biggest names in golf began their fight to be claimed Open champion.

Thousands flocked to the Royal Liverpool Golf Course in Hoylake for the first day of the tournament on what proved to be a spectacular occasion with perfect weather to boot.

Close to 100 million people across the globe were expected to watch the coverage of the 143rd Open on the television today while those on course basked in sunshine and temperatures of 24 degrees.

In 2006, when the Open was last held in Hoylake, record crowds of 230,000 descened on the town to see 14-time major winner Tiger Woods lift the Claret Jug.

This year, organisers the R&A estimated attendances would reach 200,000.

Although just 42,805 people visited the course on the four practice days between Sunday and Wednesday - 9,000 less than eight years ago - that figure is 9,000 more than when the Open was last held in the Northwest at Royal Lytham in 2012.

Wirral Globe:
Thousands flocked to Hoylake today for the first day of the Open.

It was an early start for some golfers with the first group teeing off at 6.25am.

And while large crowds gathered close to every hole, it was the likes of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and Bubba Watson that predictably attracted the biggest followings.

John Singleton's, Wirral's very own homegrown talent, also attracted a large following with huge cheers and applause as the factory worker made his way around the course, finishing six over.

The 30-year-old from Moreton, who only turned pro in February, ws supported by his family and friends and colleagues who were given the day off to show their support.

After going from the factory floor to the fairways, Singleton has more than made his mark on the golfing world, transforming himself from forklift driver to local hero.

Many across the world also took to Twitter to praise the "underdog".

Wirral Globe:
Local golfer John Singleton attracted huge crowds.

David Thome, from Virginia, tweeted: "I'll be rooting for John Singleton, a British factory worker turned amateur golfer to win it all at #TheOpenChampionship."

Anya Alvarez, from Tulsa, wrote: "Everyone loves of the story of John Singleton bc it's awesome & bc golf is the most elitist sport so it's nice 2 see someone chasing dream [sic]."

Wirral Globe:
Sunshine and high temperatures made for perfect conditions for both the golfers and spectators.

In British Columbia, Anthony Roberts, said: "Great story about John Singleton and then he smashes his first drive down the pipe, rooting for him #TheOpen #openchampionship."

Closer to home, Michael Howarth, from Bolton, tweeted: "It would be absolutely wonderful to see John Singleton place in the top 5-10 at @The_Open - great start from him."

Royal Liverpool's grandstands were full to the brim as the big names completed the first round of the four-day tournament, which saw Rory McIlroy finish top with a 66.

Wirral Globe:
Rory McIlroy is currently top of the leaderboard after finishing the first round with a 66.

Speaking after finishing on the 18th, McIlroy told the media he was not too worried about "Freaky Friday" - which has seen him fail to follow up first round successes on the second day - and said he would "see what tomorrow brings and the weather and try and handle it the best I can".

Wirral Globe:
Tiger Woods tees off to a huge round of applause.

Many will be hoping for a repeat of 2006 which saw Tiger Woods lift the Claret Jug in a particularly poignant victory that came just months after the death of his father.

He still has work to do though and currently sits in joint 10th after finishing with a 69 at the end of round one.

  • Tickets for the remainder of the competition are still available and can be purchased on the gate. 
  • We'll be back at Royal Liverpool tomorrow with updates from day two of the competition.