The Open: Tommy Fleetwood looking forward to weekend challenge
By Keith Jackson at Royal Portrush
Last Updated: 19/07/19 2:27pm
Tommy Fleetwood believes his experience of being in contention for a major over the weekend will be of huge benefit over the final two rounds of The Open.
Fleetwood recovered from a poor start to his second round at Royal Portrush to card a four-under 67 which earned him the early clubhouse lead on seven under, although he was later surpassed by one shot by first-round leader JB Holmes.
The Englishman was one of only four players in the 156-man field to go bogey-free on the opening day, but he dropped his first shot of the week on the first hole on Friday after pulling his tee-shot into the deep rough on the left.
But he bounced back with a birdie at the next and added another at the fifth, and he enjoyed a clutch par save at nine before surging into contention with three birdies in four holes from the 12th.
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Fleetwood missed the green at the short 16th and was unable to get up and down, but he rattled in an excellent putt for a three at the last to get back to seven under, and he is looking forward to being firmly in the mix at the weekend.
The 28-year-old has twice gone close at the US Open, losing out to Brooks Koepka both times, while he also has a strong performance at Carnoustie last year to look back on for inspiration.
"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. "Last year I teed off on the last day at five under and birdied the first, so I wasn't miles away with not very long in the tournament to go.
"If you put yourself up there you gain the experience that way, you can't do it any other way. And for me teeing off tomorrow or wherever I am on Sunday, at least I've got that behind me. I've got that in my mind that I know sort of how things pan out and just to keep going, play your game.
"I'm just looking forward to another weekend of a major, our biggest major, and being out there in contention," added Fleetwood, who accepted that he arrived at Portrush "under the radar" after a disappointing run of results.
"I haven't played as well, and obviously my major performances haven't been as good as the previous year," he added. "It's just been a bit of a quiet year. I think I've had two really, really great years, and this one has just been a little quieter.
"But with the potential it could have been great. I've been up there two or three times, especially on the PGA Tour, and not quite won. But those results could have been very different and all of a sudden the year could look very different."