SOUTHAMPTON, NEW YORK | If it’s the US Open, then Tommy Fleetwood must be up there, high on the leaderboard. He finished fourth at Erin Hills in 2017 and after a brilliant 66 in the second round at Shinnecock Hills he has positioned himself on the coattails of Dustin Johnson.
For that matter so has Henrik Stenson. The two Europeans, who figure to be teammates in the Ryder Cup in France in September and may also be partners, are both 1-over par through two rounds.
At 27 Fleetwood is a relative newcomer, a player who was ranked 174th in the world three years ago. But the way he handles the tough courses on which US Opens are played suggests he has an old head on his young shoulders. Stenson said on Thursday that in extremely difficult conditions or on such courses and sometimes both, players will laugh or cry “… and I guess laugh is the better option.”
Fleetwood, who started at the 10th, got caught in the damp, cold conditions that existed for an hour so Friday morning and his golf suffered. “I was just trying to survive until it brightened up,” he said. “The secret to playing the US Open (is) you just have to keep your head down and keep going.”
Which is what he did. He birdied his first and fourth holes and then, turning for home, added four more birdies. “It was really solid for a bit and then it turned into one of them great rounds,” Fleetwood said. “I am very happy and very happy to be off the course.”
Like Fleetwood, Stenson made his score after the rain had stopped. He birdied the 14th and eagled the 16th in a second-round 70. “Whenever we play courses where pars are coming hard, I think that plays to my strengths a lot of times,” Stenson, the 2016 Open champion, said. “Major golf is good for me.”