2018 British Open: Tommy Fleetwood puts himself in position to garner 1st major crown

Steve Flynn/USA TODAY Sports

2018 British Open: Tommy Fleetwood puts himself in position to garner 1st major crown

2018 British Open

2018 British Open: Tommy Fleetwood puts himself in position to garner 1st major crown

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Is Tommy Fleetwood on the verge of a major championship breakthrough? He hopes so, and Rory McIlroy thinks Fleetwood can definitely win the 147th British Open.

The reigning European No. 1 returned the lowest round so far at Carnoustie, a 6-under-par 65, to get into contention. It wasn’t quite the course record 62 he shot in the 2014 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, but it could be far more significant.

The 27-year-old had six birdies and no bogeys to get to 5 under in Round 2, one shot behind 2015 Open champion Zach Johnson.

Fleetwood arrived at Carnoustie after finishing second in the U.S. Open. It followed fourth place last year at Erin Hills. The Englishman has served his time in the tournaments that really matter. There’s only one next step.

“I’ve had some performances I’m very proud of,” Fleetwood said. “I’ve put myself high in the world rankings, and I’ve had the U.S. Open just recently. With that comes expectation, and with that comes you have to learn to manage it and handle it. You always have expectation on yourself.

“If I could pick one tournament in my life to win, it would be the (British) Open. I’ve never been anywhere near before. So far, for two rounds, I’m up there on the leaderboard. It would be something to have in my career.”

Fleetwood’s British Open record is nowhere near as good as his U.S. Open one, despite growing up playing links golf. He won the 2009 Scottish Amateur Open Stroke Play over the links of Murcar, and was runner-up in the 2009 Amateur Championship at Turnberry. Yet he’s only made one of four cuts in his home Open. He was 27th at Royal Birkdale last year.

McIlroy says Fleetwood’s career has matched his own in some ways, since they both took time to learn to shape the ball. Now that Fleetwood has, a major is on his timeline.

“He’s a very, very solid player, McIlroy said. “He’s won a lot over the last couple of years. He had a great chance at Shinnecock. He’s been putting himself in the mix. The more you do that, the more experience you gain. From there, it’s only a matter of time.”

This could be Tommy’s time.

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