Tommy Fleetwood is making a habit of shooting remarkable scores around seemingly brutal courses and he was at it again on day two of The Open.
This time it was a blemish-free 65 to follow up an opening 72 to put himself at five under. It might not be as big an advantage as other years to get the wrong half of the draw but Fleetwood hasn’t had the best of the draw and he’ll still tee it up late on Saturday afternoon.
Last month Fleetwood shot the round of his life, a Sunday 63 at Shinnecock Hills, to come up one shot short of Brooks Koepka. It was just the sixth score of that number in US Open history.
On Friday at Carnoustie, the scene of his course-record 63 in the Dunhill last October, he birdied the last to come home in 32.
An hour on a deserted range on Thursday night got the swing moving more in the right direction having been glad to get off the course in 72 after the first round.
“I like my stuff getting more neutral, getting the clubface more neutral, getting my right hand a little bit more dominant through the swing,” he said.
“It still didn’t feel right where I’d like it to be. So I’ll try and do a little bit more work on that later, conditions permitting, but it was a lot closer. 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. I didn’t feel fully confident and fully comfortable in my swing. So there’s still a bit of work to do there.”
Despite various efforts to get him to say this was better than the 63 nine months ago – he actually rated his Friday 69 last year in some dreadful conditions to squeeze through the cut higher – but h was clear in singling out which major he’d love to win the most.
“If I could pick pick one tournament in my life to win, it would be The Open. I’ve never been anywhere near before. So far for two rounds, I’m up there on the leaderboard.”
It is worth repeating that a) Fleetwood is still only 27, b) his Open record is MC-MC-MC-27, and c) he was down to 188th in the world just two years ago.
These days though his star is very much on the rise and, for any talk of swing yips in the past, the World No. 10 has all the class in the world, on and off the course.
He’s so good these days that even Rory McIlroy is getting asked about his skills in his press conference shortly after.
“When Tommy first came out on Tour, a little bit like me, he could only hit the ball right to left. So his swing has got a little better over the years, and he’s a little more on plane, and he can hit the ball left to right now if he needs to, which is massive. You can get by by just hitting the ball one shape out here but the more comfortable you are working it both ways, it makes a massive difference,” McIlroy said.
“He had a great chance at Shinnecock. He’s been putting himself in the mix. The more you do that, the more experience you gain, and from there, it’s only a matter of time.
As for the big question of the day and the first to be asked – his Open umbrella – Fleetwood doesn’t have an equipment deal so they were given one. Hopefully he won’t be needing it the rest of the week.