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Englishman Tommy Fleetwood is feeling the local love, leads British Open with 66

HOYLAKE, England — Englishman Tommy Fleetwood figures he’s imagined winning the British Open in his native land a million times.

“Winning a major is a dream, or winning the Open is a huge, huge dream,” he said. “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.”

Fleetwood is off to a stellar start at the 151st British Open as he tries to make his dream come true. On Thursday, the 32-year-old Fleetwood fired a 5-under 66 at Royal Liverpool Golf Club to share the opening-round lead with South African amateur Christo Lamprecht.

Asked if this was one of his most enjoyable starts at a major, Fleetwood didn’t hesitate to nod in the affirmative.

“One of, for sure,” he said. “Just a combination of everything really. One of the things that we’ve said this week is what an amazing time it is for us to be out on the golf course with that support, playing in an Open. It’s very, very special.”

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Bathed in glorious sunshine that made his rock-star hair glisten, Fleetwood sandwiched birdies at Nos. 5 and 7 around his lone bogey of the day at the sixth. Out in 34, he tacked on a birdie at the 11th and then reeled off three straight birdies starting at the 14th.

Fleetwood has been a picture of consistency this season – notching six top-10 finishes, including losing in a playoff at the RBC Canadian Open, a T-5 at the U.S. Open in June and T-6 last week at the Genesis Scottish Open.

“It’s much better having good results than getting kicked in the teeth all the time when you feel like you’re working so hard and you’re doing the right things,” Fleetwood said. “I think good results always spur you on and they give you the confidence to keep pushing on and doing those things.”

What has eluded Fleetwood is victory — he’s still winless on the PGA Tour and since the start of the 2017-18 season has the second-most top 10s of any player without a win in that span with 26. (Brian Harman with 28 leads this dubious distinction.) To hear Fleetwood tell it, he just needs to continue to be patient and trust in what he’s doing.

“There’s times where it could go either way, and it hasn’t gone my way yet,” Fleetwood said. “It’ll be my turn soon.”

He’s had his share of chances at majors, including at the British Open, where he finished second to Shane Lowry in 2019. Fleetwood, born and bred in Southport, England, is bidding to become the first Englishman to win the British Open since Nick Faldo in 1992. Fleetwood considers Royal Liverpool to be “hallowed turf,” a links where one of his closest friends as kid was a member and he had the chance to play it on occasion. He’ll have plenty of support to win on home soil from a partisan crowd, who have been cheering heartily for their “Tommy Lad.”

“I’ll always be a northwest boy, and to have so many people out there from the area supporting is really, really great,” Fleetwood said. “You can easily put too much pressure on yourself. You can easily try too hard. But just having that support and people egging you on, whether you’ve hit a good shot or a bad shot, good hole, bad hole. Yeah, just pushes you on…having the opportunity to do it so close to where you grew up is something that’s very unique and very special.”



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