CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tommy Fleetwood appeared to be trying to walk up a down escalator in the third round of the 147th British Open. Every time he took a step forward, he took one back.
Yet he’s still in contention to become the first English winner since Sir Nick Faldo in 1992. Fleetwood is four shots off the lead at 5 under after fashioning a level-par 71 around Carnoustie.
His score should have started with a six.
The 27-year-old got into a tie for the lead at 6 under when he birdied the par-4 second hole. That was as low as he got all day. He three-putted the par-5 sixth hole from 90 feet to drop back, but returned to 6 under when he holed an 8-foot putt at the 11th. Then he began moving rapidly down the escalator.
Fleetwood hit his worst drive of the day at 12 when he pulled his tee shot into a small lateral hazard. The hazard was dry but, at just a foot wide, there was no chance of hitting out of it. He took a drop, hit his third shot short of the green and then took three more to complete the hole.
A bogey followed at the par-3 13th, but a birdie at par-5 14th cancelled that out. It should have been an eagle. He missed from 6 feet.
He went bogey, birdie at 16 and 17 and then his birdie putt grazed the hole at the 18th. It all added up to 71 on the day he felt most at ease with his golf swing.
“I was kind of disappointed,” Fleetwood said. “Today lacked momentum. When I did get it, like on 11, when I nailed a nice putt, or when I birdied 14 and 15, when I did come back, I constantly followed it with a bit of a mess.
“I just had a bit of a rocky back nine. I actually felt the most comfortable I’ve been with my swing all week. I felt more comfortable than yesterday (when he shot 65). Just shows what can go into scoring in this silly game.”
If anyone knows how to put together a score around Carnoustie, it’s the affable Fleetwood. His second-round 65 got him onto the leaderboard. He returned a 63 at Carnoustie during last year’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Then there’s the 7-under 63 in the final round of the U.S. Open last month that earned him runner-up spot.
“I have to just draw on the good stuff,” he said. “I have low rounds in me. U.S. Open, I had a 62 around here before, and yesterday was a really low one.”
In other words, don’t count Fleetwood out of this Open just yet.