Local hero Fleetwood gives fans reasons to be cheerful
When he was asked what he made of the number of fans that had turned up to support him in the third round of The Open at Royal Birkdale, Southport-born Tommy Fleetwood was modesty personified.
“It was always going to be a great sort of crowd when it was me and Justin playing together,” he said, smiling. “Me being the local boy - and him being Justin Rose.”
Fleetwood had just completed a four under par round of 66 that was 10 strokes better than his opening score on Thursday. After making the cut with a second round of 69, he was rightly pleased to find himself moving steadily through the field. On one over par, he set off for lunch inside the top 30 and looking to climb even higher on the final day.
“Yesterday was one of the best rounds of the year and it just gave me a chance to play two more days,” he said. “It would have been pretty rubbish staying home for the weekend.
“It's the first cut I've made in The Open in four attempts. So obviously, this is an experience that you don't get every week. It has been amazing playing in front of everybody and getting clapped on to every green and every tee and (seeing) people that you know.”
Fleetwood was upbeat even if he felt his challenge for the Claret Jug had died with his first round. “People laughed when I said I didn't feel like I played that bad on Thursday. I had a couple of bad breaks and a couple of bad shots at the wrong time and I didn't hole a putt,” he said.
“From six over you've just got to do your best, haven't you? To make the cut was a tremendous round. I wish I’d started off better, but that's golf and that's life.”
So, had he struggled to live up to everybody’s hopes and expectations?
“I dealt with it fine,” he said. “You can switch it around if you want. At Royal Troon last year nobody expected me to do anything and nobody was talking to me. Which one do you prefer?”