'There's nobody fainting as I walk past,' says home favourite Tommy Fleetwood ahead of the Open

'There's nobody fainting as I walk past,' says home favourite Tommy Fleetwood ahead of the Open

Britain's Tommy Fleetwood knew his level of fame had outgrown his hometown of Southport when he was recognised in Altrincham market recently but he insists the spotlight will not affect him at Royal Birkdale.

The 26-year-old is up to a career-high 14th in the world rankings after victory at the French Open a fortnight ago and he is one of the players whose face has been chosen to adorn banners lining the streets of the north-west coastal town in England where his parents still live.

He will have many family and friends cheering him on this week as he looks to cap a stellar season with victory in a major on the course closest to home.

"I've never had a banner with me on it in Southport before, my face is on a lot of lamp posts at the moment," said Fleetwood, who is easiily recognisable with his straggly shoulder-length hair.

"I got recognised at Altrincham market the other day but there's nobody fainting in the street as I walk past - I'm still waiting for those days to come.

"But it's nice to see things like my old school did. They had a massive banner with all the kids saying 'good luck' and I think it's just lovely.

"It's very touching, actually, seeing things like that, but the banners will be off in a couple of weeks so I best not get used to it too much."

Fleetwood has enjoyed a meteoric rise over the last 10 months, having been 188th in the world only last September.

Three top-10s inside a month saw momentum begin to build and a ninth-placed finish at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai was followed by victory at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in February.

There he held off Dustin Johnson, and he then finished second to the world number one at the WGC-Mexico Championship to elevate him to the next level.

A second victory of the season at Le Golf National means he arrives in Southport as a genuine contender on a course he used to sneak in to for a few holes as a youngster.

"For me growing up Royal Birkdale wasn't a course that I would be playing on," said Fleetwood, who when asked to name some of his favourite public spots in the town as a youngster picked golf courses.

"I might have hit the odd shot but that was about as far as it goes. You can't sneak on the places that we used to sneak on any more.

"The fifth was the place that used to be a lot more open but it's got fences and bushes there now.

"You can try (sneaking on), I wouldn't recommend it. It's a lot tougher these days."

On the increased expectations, Fleetwood added: "I'd much rather be in this position where people might be talking about me as a contender than turning up and sort of being a no-show.

"Recent results have clearly put me in the eye and made people talk about me as a chance but this is still The Open and there's so many things that go into it.

"I've thought about winning The Open since I was five years old so, thinking about it another few days isn't going to make any difference to me. I don't feel extra pressure from it."

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