The Open Championship 2018

No raining on Fleetwood's parade

With his long hair and beard, Tommy Fleetwood is a throwback to the 1960s. He is looking for his own piece of history - becoming England's first Open champion in more than a quarter of a century.
With his long hair and beard, Tommy Fleetwood is a throwback to the 1960s. He is looking for his own piece of history - becoming England's first Open champion in more than a quarter of a century.PHOTO: REUTERS

Englishman's second-round 65 boosts his chances of emulating Faldo's victory in 1992

CARNOUSTIE (Scotland) • The heavens opened over Carnoustie yesterday and it rained birdies for Tommy Fleetwood as he flew up the leaderboard with a blemish-free second round of six-under 65.

The 27-year-old knows how big an achievement it would be if he becomes the first Englishman in over a quarter of a century to win The Open Championship tomorrow.

Fleetwood, who finished runner-up at last month's US Open with a final-round 63, moved to five-under 137 for the tournament following his sublime bogey-free round that consisted of six birdies. He was one back of clubhouse leader Zach Johnson (67).

It was a remarkable round by Fleetwood considering no other player in the day's first seven groups managed a sub-70 score as heavy rain took the pace out of the bone-hard fairways.

Fleetwood, who with his long hair and beard seems like a throwback to the 1960s, says if there is one Major he would like to win, it is this one, the only one played outside the United States and which has not been won by an Englishman since Nick Faldo in 1992.

"Yeah, it would be - it would be very special," he said. "If I could pick one tournament in my life to win, it would be The Open."

Fleetwood has won four times on the European Tour including successive Abu Dhabi Championships, but has really shone at The Open, missing the cut three times and finishing tied for 27th last year.

A BOYHOOD DREAM

It would be very special. If I could pick one tournament in my life to win, it would be The Open.

TOMMY FLEETWOOD, bidding to become the first English golfer to triumph at The Open, the oldest Major, since Nick Faldo's victory in 1992 at Muirfield.

"I've never been anywhere near before," added Fleetwood, who has a liking for Carnoustie having set a course-record 63 in October last year at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

"So far for two rounds, I'm up there on the leaderboard.

"But, yeah, it would be something to have in my career that would be amazing by the time I'm done... The Open is something that I'd like."

He also said that his stunning final round in the US Open at the ultra-demanding Shinnecock Hills had given him huge belief in his ability to be a contender at a Major.

"The round itself was just something that was very special and very close to being a one and only round on its own," said Fleetwood, who was without a kit sponsor and had to procure an umbrella for his 18 holes.

"But to be a part of history was really cool. I don't think you can get a much tougher test than Shinnecock or Carnoustie really."

Despite his low score, Fleetwood added that he never felt fully comfortable on the course, and would be on the range later making some tweaks for what could be a seismic weekend.

"Normally when you play great, you know where the ball's gone. A lot of the shots, I was just looking up, and I was really happy that they were going straight," he said.

"I never felt at ease all day. But the ball was doing what I wanted it to do. So I'll try and do a little bit more work on that later."

At least Fleetwood has a weekend to look forward to.

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson carded an underwhelming 72 which left the American six over for the tournament. Sweden's Henrik Stenson, the 2016 champion, also endured a bad day with a 75 that left him at three over.

That was the projected cut mark with the second round yet to be completed by press time.

Tiger Woods signed for his second straight 71 and was even par while playing partner Hideki Matsuyama (71) was four over.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

THE OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP

Day 3: Singtel TV Ch115 & StarHub Ch209, 5pm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 21, 2018, with the headline 'No raining on Fleetwood's parade'. Print Edition | Subscribe