Carnoustie favourite Fleetwood seeks first major
The 147th Open Championship may still be a month away but we get a sneak peak at who’s in form at Shinnecock Hills as the world’s finest come together for the US Open.
Intimidating lengths, thick rough and fast greens are a staple of the second major of the year and there will be no room for error at one of America’s finest golf courses this weekend.
As ever, there are a host of players capable of winning the second oldest major and all the best players arrive in tip-top shape – including several Champion Golfers and the world number one.
Here’s what to look out for:
Fleetwood on a mission
Since bursting onto the scene last year with three titles and a top-five finish at the US Open, Tommy Fleetwood has proven to be one of the most consistent players on tour.
However, the likeable Liverpudlian, who is a favourite for The Open at Carnoustie this summer, is still to win a major championship. There is no need to panic though, his time will surely come.
Ranked among the favourites this week, Fleetwood is a popular tip. His accuracy off the tee, steady iron play and reliable putting make him a real contender and the 27-year-old admits he is feeling good about his game.
“It’s exciting for me,” Fleetwood said. “I don’t know how they will set it up. I know they have said the fairways are a bit wider. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing."
“I think the good thing is that it’s at a different course to last year. A lot of times when you’ve played well the year before at a tournament or at a course and you come back and the expectations are so high, if you don’t quite start or play the way you want to it can get frustrating. So different courses, different tests, but it’s my best major finish and it is a tournament that I love. So hopefully I can improve on that.”
Mickelson eager to complete the set
Phil Mickelson’s career is littered with glorious moments and pieces of silverware but when it comes to the second major of the year, it’s a tale of heartbreak.
The left-hander has finished second a remarkable six times without ever winning the event and, since lifting the Claret Jug in 2013 at Muirfield, it is now the one major he is yet to win.
Victory at Shinnecock Hills would make him just the sixth man of the Masters era to win the career Grand Slam. And the signs are good. Mickelson returned to the winners’ circle for the first time since that Muirfield triumph at the WGC-Mexico Championship in March and has achieved five other top ten finishes in a consistent and impressive campaign.
The fact he will play alongside Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy in the first two rounds suggests he is box office viewing again and he admits he is feeling confident about his game.
“You don’t want to go in there limping,” he said. “I feel good with parts of my game and I just need to put it all together and play some of my best golf for four days.”
Woods brings up major anniversary
It is ten years since Tiger Woods claimed the latest of his 14 majors and still it is barely believable he hobbled to victory at Torrey Pines.
Rumours persisted throughout the tournament that he would pull out, with a knee injury limiting him to just a handful of shots. His only option off the tee was a 30-yard cut. Everything else was too painful to try.
That he survived four days intact and finished joint top with Rocco Mediate was remarkable, but then he defied logic by winning an 18-hole play-off by two shots.
That Woods, a three-time Champion Golfer of the Year, can win another major is not in doubt. Anyone who has seen him this season will support that assessment. For him, it would be perfect to end a injury-hit ten years back where it all started.
DJ the headline act
Back at the top and in a tournament he won two years ago, there is a lot to like about world number Dustin Johnson this week.
The 2016 US Open champion is bang in form after victory at the St Jude Classic, and he hopes to make history by becoming the first man to ever follow success the week before victory in the second major of the year.
“I did win in 2016, so I know what it takes and I’m going to have to play a lot like I did last week if I want to win this week,” he said.For more information about The 147th Open including tickets visit: https://tickets.theopen.com/