Open Championship Diary: Tommy Fleetwood takes it up a notch

By Kevin Markham

Who’s hot?

Tommy Fleetwood sealed his round of 65 with a perfect 20ft birdie putt on the 18th. He was the only golfer not to drop a shot and he looked comfortable the whole way around, despite playing in the worst conditions. After hitting only 40% of fairways on day one, he improved that to 67% yesterday. His putting was much improved, too, with several long-range efforts keeping his card motoring along.

Who’s not?

On day two at Royal Birkdale last year, the biggest disaster was recorded by Justin Thomas, who took nine shots on the par-four sixth. He missed the cut. On day one at Carnoustie, a 69 suggested things would work out better for Thomas in 2018. But it wasn’t to be: On the sixth hole he made a double-bogey seven. He then double-bogeyed the par-four seventh and the par-three eighth. He played the back nine in level par but the damage had been done. His 77 left him on +4 for the tournament and the world number two missed the cut.

Meanwhile, world number one Dustin Johnson had four birdies on the back nine to get himself to +3. At the time that was right on the cut mark… but then he bogeyed the 17th and double-bogeyed the 18th. Combined with his performance on the final hole in day one, when he also visited the Barry Burn, he was five over par for that one hole.

Shot of the day

This one goes to our own Pádraig Harrington, who found his drive no more than a foot from the out-of-bounds fence on the par-five sixth. At +5 he needed to make something happen so he stood on the other side of the waist-high wire fence, leaned over, and played a brilliant punch shot. He could easily have got caught in the wires but instead he finished well down the fairway. From there he left his third shot no more than 3ft from the hole and tapped in for birdie. It was his first birdie since the eighth hole the previous day. Sadly it didn’t kick-start his round — he managed only one more birdie. It was scant consolation when he finished with a 74 for a missed cut total of +8.

Sight of the day

Two men were wading into the Firth of Tay at around 8am, as golf fans streamed across the bridge. “I felt for a moment that was Rich Beem” quipped Ewan Murray, on Sky TV, “but much too early for him.” And who goes swimming in the rain anyway?!

The walking wounded

At 7.30am, the walking wounded set off. Henrik Stenson is nursing an elbow injury which saw him withdraw from the Scottish Open last week, while Jimmy Walker is only coming back from a long spell recovering from Lyme disease. Walker contracted the disease the year after his 2016 PGA victory. Stenson scraped into the weekend on +3, with a 75; Jimmy was five shots further back, after a 78 and missed the cut. Tommy Fleetwood, the healthy one in the group, shot a stunning 65.

Strangest clothing accessory

On day one, Sandy Lyle raised eyebrows by wearing a waterproof jacket for three holes in blistering sunshine. At the other end of the scale, on day two, Zach Johnson insisted on wearing his sunglasses in the rain and gloom that accompanied the early starters. On the ninth hole he hit his tee shot and then told his caddie he’d lost the ball in flight… it was a foot off the fairway. Try taking off the shades, Zach.

Stats of the day

The par-five sixth yielded six eagles and 70 birdies on Thursday. It was the second easiest hole on the course. On day two it was Index 9 with no eagles and just 20 birdies. That’s what happens when the rain softens fairways. Some 4.9mm fell on the course yesterday. It changed the championship completely.

Useless stat of the day

Fox Sports showed Tommy Fleetwood playing the third and informed viewers that 40 of the last 49 Open winners have been married. They added that Fleetwood got married in November. And after Tommy’s 65 maybe Fox is bang on the money.

Quote of the day

“You need it, don’t snap it,” called a concerned citizen on the sixth tee as Jon Rahm looked set to vent some fury on his driver.

Weather watch

Early morning rain should have cleared by the time the golf tees off, with a mild day, and plenty sun, to follow.

and the rest of the day is set to be mild, with plenty of sun. Wind will be light.

Who to watch today

Rory is set to turn on the juice. Expect a low one…

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