Back in 2008, Tommy Fleetwood narrowly missed out on an appearance at the Open Championship in his hometown. At 17 years old, the world had yet to see the what Fleetwood could do at the biggest stage but as runner-up at the 2008 Amateur Championship, he was certainly making heads turn in the world of golf.
Fast-forward to 2017 and Fleetwood is in the form of his life as he braces himself for the Open Championship. The Southport player has risen up the world rankings to number 15 following a sensational season so far that has included victory at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, a fourth place finish at the U.S Open and now another title at the HNA Open de France. The victory has also seen him lead the Race to Dubai.
His victory in France showed exactly what Fleetwood has been about in 2017. One shot behind the overnight leader, Peter Uihlein, he knew it would take something special to lift the trophy.
Uihlein would handle the pressure less well than Fleetwood. Two bogeys in the first five holes saw him lose the lead. Fleetwood by contrast, came out all guns blazing. Whilst Uihlein was making bogeys, Fleetwood was making birdies. Flawless would be the word best to describe Fleetwood on the final round. A blemish free birdie machine. His 66, meant he had to wait to see if it was enough.
It was to be a nervous wait as Uihlein made a birdie on the 17th. The deficit was now only one shot. However, the much-needed birdie on the 18th was too much for the American and meant that Fleetwood would add to his trophy cabinet.
“When the Rolex Series was talked about last year, they were the tournaments we wanted to be in and win,” Fleetwood said. “To claim this one is a big deal. Today was good from start to finish. I nearly holed my first two iron shots. And I didn’t miss a shot down the stretch. On those last four holes, there is a series of shots you just want to get behind you and I hit them all great. I felt very comfortable. It was great to successfully test all the things I work on every day.”
One thing is for sure, Fleetwood is looking like a contender for the Open Championship. Who wouldn’t want to see the hometown boy win the Claret Jug on his home turf? I wouldn’t bet against it right now.