With the winds swirling and the rain pouring down on Friday, Tommy Fleetwood needed to pull out a much better performance than his Day 1 debacle, and the hometown golfer duly obliged. The big Everton fan overcame another bout of putting nerves and came back to the clubhouse with a 1-under 69 on a blustery day where only seven other golfers beat the 70 par score.
After being behind the cut for most of the day, it was a birdie on the 11th hole that finally got him within the mark to continue playing this weekend. The Southport-born local had a couple of chances to solidify his status, but poor putting let him down. Luckily, the conditions proved trying enough for the field that an overall five-over was adequate under the circumstances.
The 26-year-old was yet to make the cut in three previous Open Championships, and speaking to the media afterwards, he said -
"After yesterday I needed the weather to be bad, really. And I definitely got that to start. But then you've got to play and make a score. And I was happy to give the people watching me something to cheer about.”
Ranked 14th in the world this year, he had two birdies and a bogey on the back nine before converting a difficult up-and-down at the last hole in front of the adoring crowds.
"It took me a long time to make a birdie. But it's great. I feel a lot better coming off the course than yesterday. But just to make the cut, it's massive. It's my first cut at the Open, and my fourth start. And it's just nice to give them something to cheer about, really."
Fleetwood is 11 shots behind clubhouse leader Jordan Spieth, and will be looking to emulate his fourth place finish at the recent US Open.
"I'll be up early in the morning trying my best. You never know with the Open, you never know with the conditions, what's around the corner. I've never played a weekend at the Open, so I actually don't know, really. But we'll see. It will just be nice to be playing now."
Plenty of tales about the player growing up in the area came to light this week, including a massive bet on Fleetwood by a local golfer and how as a seven-year-old child he stole into the Royal Birkdale where the tournament is being held this year to hit some balls on the finely-tended course.
As narrated to the Southport Champion, a local who had seen Fleetwood play at age 15 had placed a sizeable £500 bet at 66-to-1 odds that the player would win "an open championship on the PGA Tour before the end of 2017”. However, the bookmaker was asserting that the three Tour victories by the player did not count as they were not “The Open”.
Go on Tommy lad, we’re rooting for you once again on Saturday and Sunday!