Fleetwood: “I’ve imagined it about a million times”

Mark McGowan

Tommy Fleetwood (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

Tommy Fleetwood has rarely been in better form arriving at the Open Championship, with three top 10s in his last four starts, including a T5 at the U.S. Open, but though he’s classed as a local, Southport is a good hour’s drive across the Mersey and Royal Liverpool Golf Club isn’t quite as familiar to the popular Englishman as one might expect.

“I don’t know the course that well,” Fleetwood concedes, “I haven’t played it as many times as I would like, but I do know it better than most. Obviously I’ve played here as a junior and stuff, and then I haven’t played it at all since the last Open.

“I think when it’s an event that is so close to home, obviously it comes with its own mental challenges, with your own expectations, and with everybody else’s. But it would be silly and daft to look at or try and find negative elements to do with that. It’s an amazing feeling playing in front of so much support and having that, and I think it’s very special.


“It would be really, really silly to not go out with the aim to enjoy it and embrace it and see what you can do out there. No matter what happens, it’s going to be a week that you remember. I still remember the first Open I played that was here. Didn’t play very well and I was so nervous and so inexperienced, if you like, but it was still so special to play in front of a home crowd. The same at Birkdale.

“Of course I have the ultimate goal of trying to win The Open, and I would like to play well. I’ll be disappointed and I’ll be upset if I don’t, but you also have to realise that there’s certain things about the week that are very special, and focus on them, as well.”

“Yeah, it’s one of the special things about The Open is no matter where it is, I always feel like I’ve had great support being a home Open, being British, but then we get the chance every few years where it feels very, very close to home and I get to experience what that feels like,” he added.

Fleetwood got to witness first-hand what it was like when a local favourite wins in front of the home crowd, both earlier this year when Nick Taylor beat him in a playoff at the Canadian Open, and four years ago he watched on from the accompanying group as Shane Lowry stormed to victory at Royal Portrush.

“Yeah, I’ve imagined it about a million times probably,” Fleetwood responded when asked if he could visualise similar circumstances for himself this week. “Winning a major is a dream, or winning The Open is a huge, huge dream. No matter where that is, that’s always something I’ve visualized and always thought about.

“But then again, having the opportunity to do it so close to where you grew up is something that’s very unique and very special. For sure I’ve pictured it a lot and visualized it a lot; just haven’t done it yet in person, so that’s hopefully the next thing.”

This week will be a bittersweet homecoming of sorts for Fleetwood whose mother passed away a year ago, and he would love to be in the mix over the weekend after playing rounds one and two in the company of world number one Scottie Scheffler and former Masters champion Adam Scott.

“My dad is great,” Fleetwood explained when asked how his father had coped with the bereavement. “He’s done really, really well, so that’s been nice to see. It’ll be different — well, it’ll be a year on Friday. We know that that’s coming up. It would be nice to think she’s watching over.

“Yeah, it’ll be a special event. I would love to play well and I would love to sort of give myself a chance come Saturday and Sunday and have something to aim for in that sense.

“But everybody is doing really well, and that’s all you can do. I have a great family and a lot of support, and my dad is out here today, and I think the best thing is seeing how well he’s doing and obviously give him something to enjoy watching this week.”

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