Since coming fourth at the US Open in 2017, the same year he ended a four-year winless drought on the DP World Tour, Tommy Fleetwood has rocketed in popularity and stardom.
But is he in danger of joining the likes of Lee Westwood, Colin Montgomerie and Luke Donald in becoming another British player to not get over the line at the majors?
For years, UK golf fans have sat glued to their screens imploring their favourite players to rise to the occasion at the four top events on the men’s schedule.
And Fleetwood, who came close to winning on US soil for the first time at the recent Valspar Championship, is certainly in this bracket, but there is still time for him to experience major glory.
It was when the Southport man was in contention at the Honda Classic in 2020 when PGA Tour commentator Paul Azinger made what would go on to become an infamous remark.
“You can win all you want on that European Tour, the international game and all that, but you have to win on the PGA Tour.”
This was a topic discussed on an episode of The Slam podcast, where my co-host Alex Perry and I discussed Fleetwood’s achievements and what could still come…
“There were those famous comments from Paul Azinger a couple of years ago where he dismissed the DP World Tour and there was uproar,” Alex said. “But there are questions over Fleetwood and can he get it done on the PGA Tour?
“You have to think he will and it’ll probably come at an event like the Valspar – it’s not like he blew up. He didn’t shoot 78. He finished tied-3rd and two back of Taylor Moore after a 70. But it takes just one shot to end your chances in these tournaments.
“Let’s make no mistake, Fleetwood has had a wonderful career. If his career ended today, he would sit and say, ‘OK I’m disappointed I didn’t win a major, I’m disappointed I didn’t win on the PGA Tour, but I’ve made a very good living for myself and my family. I’ve had a really good life. I’ve had those incredible Ryder Cup experiences.’
“We have to take these things into perspective.
“Let’s look at JT Poston for example. Two wins at the Wyndham Championship and the John Deere Classic. Whose career would you rather have? You would rather have Tommy Fleetwood’s. It’s a no-brainer, isn’t it?”
Fleetwood’s close call at Innisbrook came a week after a final-round 76 cost him a proper run at the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.
His current form is encouraging and, with the first major at Augusta National in our sights, who’s to say Fleetwood can’t be in contention at the Masters?
But we’ve been here before. Fleetwood is a popular figure, one who is easy to get behind, and his best chance to raise his household status could come at The Open.
But he is getting into Westwood and Montgomerie territory. It’s that major box that hasn’t been ticked – but he’s come very close in the last five years.
“It was a disappointing finish at The Players, but his current form could be indicative of what he’ll show in the four majors this year. The Open is on home turf across the Mersey from his home course at West Lancs. It’s looking promising for Fleetwood when in the last couple of seasons, it certainly hasn’t had such a good outlook as it has now.
From a personal perspective, I remember at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, Westwood led going into the last round and I was watching the coverage on Sunday and thinking it was an Andy Murray-type moment in terms of the country realising that one of their own could win a major sporting event.
Fleetwood would be the same in that respect.
Roll on Hoylake!
The Slam podcast: Tommy Fleetwood’s major appeal
Listen to the full episode of The Slam, in association with Callaway, in the player below, or click one of the buttons to be taken to your preferred podcast player.
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