CARNOUSTIE, SCOTLAND – A colleague from overseas asked recently how Americans would take to seeing Englishman Tommy Fleetwood win the Open Championship or any major, for that matter.
The way they take to ice cream, cheeseburgers and free t-shirts.
What’s not to like about Fleetwood?
He’s got the hair, the game and the affinity for the big stage that sets him apart in all the important ways.
Plus, if they reboot Jesus Christ Superstar in London’s theatre district, Fleetwood’s a natural for the lead if he can sing a little.
Fleetwood is at it again at Carnoustie, thrusting himself into the championship discussion with another gaudy score – a 6-under-par 65 in Friday’s damp, gloomy conditions to move near the top of the Open Championship leaderboard.
It was just more than a month ago that Fleetwood closed with a record-tying 63 in the final round of the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills to finish second by one stroke to Brooks Koepka. One year earlier, Fleetwood finished fourth in the U.S. Open at Erin Hills, establishing his major championship creds.
“He’s been putting himself in the mix,” said Rory McIlroy, who himself is in the Carnoustie mix entering the weekend. “The more you do that, the more experience you gain and from there, it’s only a matter of time.”
And if you’re wondering who holds the course record at Carnoustie, it’s Fleetwood, who shot 63 in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship last October.
Fleetwood has the going-low gene.
“Rounds like today, they just show you when you play well, when you’re on … I don’t think you can get a much tougher test than Shinnecock or Carnoustie really. You’re on the toughest tests in golf,” Fleetwood said.
“When you play well … it’s something that you know if you can get it going you can end up shooting a really low score. To have the ability to do that, well, it’s great really.”
As happens in golf, Friday was a reversal in form from Thursday when Fleetwood posted an opening 1-over 72 but rarely felt in control of his game. He adjourned to the range for an hour after his round and worked on eliminating the sharp inside-out move he sometimes falls into on his downswing.
“It’s not a course record but it’s pretty good,” Fleetwood said of his Friday round. “It was a very strong round of golf. I hit a lot of good golf shots.
“If you went out, you wouldn’t really fancy being 6 under out there. I think that’s a good indication of how good it was.”