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The 148th Open Royal Portrush

Tommy's time?


Fleetwood hopes to ride experience, crowd support to Claret Jug

Tommy Fleetwood

Tommy Fleetwood has knocked on the major-championship door multiple times in the past few years and now looks to break through for the first time.

Sitting in the interview room Friday afternoon, Tommy Fleetwood found himself in a familiar spot on the Open leaderboard.

At 7 under par following rounds of 68-67, Fleetwood was just one shot off the Day 2 lead, just like he was last year through 36 holes at Carnoustie. That week, Fleetwood finished in a tie for 12th, five shots behind Francesco Molinari, with whom he would later partner at the Ryder Cup to go a perfect 4-0-0.

Fleetwood was asked Friday if there’s anything he’s learned from Frankie about sealing the deal in a major.

“I thought you were talking about my son. I learned more from him than Frankie Molinari,” Fleetwood joked.

The four-time European Tour winner has two major top-5s to his credit, a solo fourth and a solo second at the 2017 and 2018 U.S. Opens. Once again in the hunt, Fleetwood sees only one way to bag his first major.

“Well, I think all you can do is you can put yourself up there and gain experience that way and know how things pan out on a Saturday and Sunday at a major,” he said.

True, but there’s only so many times a player can reasonably expect for one of the game’s most prestigious prizes.

“Well, I think there's a couple of parts to that,” he said. “Of course, when these chances come around, you want to take them and you want to be known. It's your chance of putting your name in the history of the game. For sure all of us dream of having majors in our career and taking those opportunities.

“I think the other side of that is like you say you don't know how many times you're going to actually get the chance to compete at the back end of a draw on Saturday or Sunday in a major, and it's important to embrace it and enjoy it whatever happens.”

The crowds here at Royal Portrush should make it easy for Fleetwood to enjoy himself. Although Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell got off to unfortunate starts Thursday, England’s Fleetwood figures to be a fan favorite over the weekend as he once again vies for his first major title.

“I've always said I consider myself lucky that wherever I go I get good support,” he said. “But especially when you play an Open or home event, if it's not quite going your way, they can pick you up; and if it is going your way, they can fly with you and you can ride it.