CARNOUSTIE – Tommy Fleetwood knows how big an achievement it would be if on Sunday he becomes the first Englishman in over a quarter of a century to win the British Open.
The 27-year-old - who finished runner-up at last month's US Open with a superb final round of 63 - carded a sublime six-under-par 65 in his second round at Carnoustie on Friday to move to five-under for the tournament.
Fleetwood, who with his long hair and beard seems like a throwback to the 1960s, says if there is one major he would like to win it is this one, the only one played outside the United States and which has not been won by an Englishman since Nick Faldo in 1992.
"Yeah, it would be - it would be very special," said Fleetwood. "If I could pick one tournament in my life to win, it would be The Open."
Fleetwood has won four times on the European Tour including successive Abu Dhabi Championships, but has never properly shone at The Open, missing the cut three times and finishing tied for 27th last year.
"I've never been anywhere near before," said Fleetwood, who has a liking for Carnoustie having set a course record 63 here in October last year. "So far for two rounds, I'm up there on the leaderboard. But, yeah, it would be something to have in my career that would be amazing by the time I'm done...The Open is something that I'd like."
'Struggling with my game'
Fleetwood said that his stunning final round in the US Open at the ultra-demanding Shinnecock Hills had given him enormous belief in his ability to be a contender at a major.
"The round itself was just something that was very special and very close to being a one and only round on its own," said Fleetwood, who without a kit sponsor had to procure an umbrella for the round which was played in pouring rain. "But to be a part of history was really cool. I don't think you can get a much tougher test than Shinnecock or Carnoustie really."
Fleetwood, who usually travels with his dog but said he and his wife Clare had brought their young son Franklin with them this time, added that he feels he can deal with expectations better now than at last year's Open at his local club Royal Birkdale.
"It's nice," said Fleetwood. "I think last year was definitely a bit more difficult than this year in terms of expectation not coming very quickly for me, struggling with my game, and that was a home Open Championship.
"At the moment, I've put myself high in the world rankings (he is 10th), and I've had the US Open just recently, I've had a great result."
Fleetwood added that learning to deal with pressure to be successful was just part and parcel of his game now.
"You always have expectation on yourself. That's just a given really.
"But, yeah, it's something that you get used to and something that you have to learn about, but at the same time, it's much nicer than having no eyes on you at all."
Agence France-Presse (AFP)