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Open Venues

The 149th Open


England's finest look to break Open curse

Tommy Fleetwood

With his Beatles accent and Rolling Stones haircut, Tommy Fleetwood will lead the English charge to be No.1 next summer when The Open returns to Royal St. George’s.

The Merseysider so nearly broke his major duck at Royal Portrush but gale-force winds and the iron resolve of Shane Lowry denied him.

But make no mistake, when The Open returns to the garden of England, Fleetwood will be in bloom once more.

With three majors to come between now and then, his wait for a maiden major may well be over. But there are still plenty of other ducks to break. England has not been a happy hunting ground for its golfers at The Open in years gone by.

In fact, more than half a century has passed since an Englishman – Tony Jacklin - was last crowned Champion Golfer of the Year on English soil, despite a number of players coming close.

It will also have been 28 years since an Englishman last lifted the Claret Jug by the time we get to Sandwich – Nick Faldo at Muirfield in 1992.

But Royal St. George’s has a mythical status and the ability to inspire. It first hosted golf’s original Championship in 1894, the first time The Open had ever been contested south of the border.

Following Jacklin's lead

Thirteen Opens have since followed and the likes of Greg Norman, Darren Clarke, Harry Vardon, Walter Hagan and Sandy Lyle have also secured the Claret Jug on this famed patch of the Sandwich coast.

Having finished runner-up to Lowry at Royal Portrush, Fleetwood will be one of the prime contenders to end the English curse.

The Southport native briefly threatened to dethrone Lowry before a double bogey on the 14th ended his challenge as he finished second to the Irishman after a three-over 74 on Sunday.

Lee Westwood and his caddy walk to their ball

Westwood eyes St George's

Despite the disappointing end to his Portrush experience, Fleetwood improved his best Open finish for a third year running and is confident he is heading in the right direction.

“I think I played a lot of very, very good golf,” he said. “For me personally it was nice to play more like how I feel I should play again.

“It's my second runner-up in a major, which is great and I'm trending in the right way. I just hope my time will come eventually.” tommy fleetwood

Fleetwood was by no means the only English presence on the Dunluce Links leaderboard, however, with a number of his compatriots also laying down a marker for Royal St. George’s.

Lee Westwood was the next best finisher, posting a final round 73 for a share of fourth, having previously finished runner-up at The Open himself back in 2010 at St Andrews.

“I always feel like I can perform at The Open,” Westwood said. “I think it doesn't just suit one style of play. It brings in everybody to it. You don't have to be a bomber, which I'm probably not anymore.

“You've just got to have cunning and guile and know how to get your ball around, especially when it gets like this. I feel like I'm still capable of winning tournaments.”

Former Masters champion Danny Willett was also in contention going into Sunday but like Westwood he fell away with a final round of 73 (+2) to finish in a tie for sixth.

After matching his best-ever Open finish, Willett said: “The Open is a very special golf tournament for us. And this one in particular, it's the second-highest finish I've ever had.”

Willett was joined on six-under for the Championship by compatriot Tyrrell Hatton, who registered his second-best Open finish after finishing with a brilliant two-under 69 on Sunday.

And when you take into account the likes of Justin Rose, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Paul Casey, the chances of an English winner at Royal St. George’s appear to be very rosy indeed.