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Tommy Fleetwood

‘Go on, Tommy lad!’: A round with the Fleetwood army at Hoylake

The whole of Royal Liverpool is behind Tommy Fleetwood. Steve Carroll tramped the fairways with them on The Open Moving Day

 

If the stress of contending for a Claret Jug isn’t enough, here it comes. “I’ve had a fiver on you, Tommy lad.”

Don’t put any more pressure on him!

That isn’t the only money changing hands among Tommy Fleetwood’s faithful at Hoylake. A very earnest conversation is taking place about the potential return on a 20p each-way punt. “I think it’s £4!” is exclaimed with just a bit too much excitement.

As a deathly hush descends on the 1st green, a group of lads are both watching their idol and the racing from Newbury streaming out of one of their phones. Who says men can’t multi-task?

But the sound of silence is only felt when Tommy gets set to strike. In between, it’s a rousing, soaring, wave of noise. It gets so loud after he drains a birdie at the 2nd it sets off the decibel warning on my watch.

It’s a fun and exhilarating afternoon people watching at Royal Liverpool. Fleetwood’s the firm favourite – even if he does hail from Southport – and there is a moving mass of faces, a veritable army, willing him to victory.

“It’s yours, today,” they yell. “Bring it, home.”

“Tommy, lad” is the ubiquitous refrain, for a local lad who is revelling in the adulation. The cries only get hoarser as Brian Harman gives everyone hope when bogeying two of his first four holes.

To say it’s an eclectic gathering is an understatement. There is genuine surprise among one party that Harman, a two-time PGA Tour winner who is inside the world’s top 30, is left-handed.

And it’s an altogether different feeling in the Links Pavilion that frames the side of the 4th.

While Fleetwood’s approach into the heart of the green is met from roars from the hoi-polloi outside, among the wine bottles and appetisers a polite round of applause is all he gets.

Fleetwood’s looking composed, but Harman recovers his equilibrium. With the Open Arms full and the stakes getting higher, the volume rises another notch into the back nine.

“They’ve been insanely amazing,” Fleetwood had buzzed after his second round. “They really, really have. I’ve loved every minute of playing in front of them, and I can’t thank everybody enough, and can’t have asked for any more from anybody with all the support they’re giving me out here.”

They do their very best to rally him on a frustrating journey to the clubhouse. But the putts are slipping agonisingly by, and Harman is stretching his land. Three, becomes four, then five.

It is surely his Claret Jug to lose now.

Fleetwood looks fed up, the energy ebbs ever so slightly out of his patrons as the ball refuses to drop. But no one is giving up on him.

Where is golf there is still hope. And 18 holes still remain.

What do you think? Can Tommy Fleetwood write his name on the Claret Jug? Let me know with a tweet.

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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