Tommy Fleetwood came up short at Royal Portrush, but he knows that playing in the final group of a major will soon pay big dividends.
By Bailey Mosier
Shane Lowry proved too worthy an adversary for Tommy Fleetwood to overcome in the final round of The 148th Open.
To be fair, it was going to be an uphill battle from the start. Fleetwood began the final round paired alongside the 32-year-old Irishman trailing by four shots. That uphill battle, however, nearly turned into a downhill coast for Fleetwood right out of the gate.
Fleetwood hit a laser into the opening green, setting up an 8-footer for birdie while Lowry had managed to make a mess of the opening hole. After a wayward tee shot, a second shot into a bunker, a third shot onto the green a lengthy distance away, he left his par putt 8 feet short. All of the sudden, Lowry's very realistically looking at double bogey to Fleetwood's birdie.
The two putts nearly equidistant, Fleetwood putts first.
Lowry to save bogey.
"Tommy has a great chance of birdie and I'm putting for bogey from 8 feet," Lowry said. "There's a potential three-shot swing. He misses, I make, and there's only one shot. That settled me an awful lot."
An early opportunity squandered away, and Fleetwood knew it, too.
"Them first few holes, when you start four back, pretty crucial," Fleetwood said. "I didn't do a good enough job of sort of pressing at that point."
In total, it was a 2-over 74, six shots back of Lowry. Disappointing not to come out on top, but no matter how the day shook out, Fleetwood was going to maintain a positive spin.
"First and foremost, whatever happened today was going to be an experience and you were going to take things from it. That's the first time I've played in the last group of a major on a Sunday. You learn things as you go. You learn things about yourself. I watched Shane in The Open. I watched how he conducted himself and how he played. And for four rounds of golf I was the second-best player in the event, which is a great achievement. You have to look at it like that."
Fleetwood now has three major top-5s to his credit, a solo fourth and a solo second at the 2017 and 2018 U.S. Opens, respectively.