Sam Torrance: Why unflappable Tommy Fleetwood suits Open Championship course Royal Birkdale down to the ground

 
Sam Torrance
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HNA Open de France - Day Four
Fleetwood is now in the world's top 15 after his Paris success (Source: Getty)

You could see it in the way he didn’t look at the camera once when it followed him up the fairway, or in his fantastic two-putt at the 18th – missing two sprinklers by an inch – to clinch the title.

Tommy Fleetwood is a cool customer. The Englishman is very comfortable in his own skin and knows how to control a golf ball, and he demonstrated that in his victory at the Open de France on Sunday.

It is a huge win for the 26-year-old – the Open de France is part of the European Tour’s new Rolex Series, which may one day rival World Golf Championship events as the biggest outside the Majors.

Read more: Sam Torrance: Fleetwood at the vanguard of English success

On top of that, it lifted him back to the top of the Race To Dubai – extraordinary given that it places him ahead of Masters champion Sergio Garcia – and hoisted him to a career-high 15th in the world rankings. It also continued the excellent form that saw him finish fourth at the US Open last month.

Fleetwood’s run is just another example of how confidence breeds confidence. Ranked as low as 188th in the world less than a year ago, he returned from a Christmas break to win the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship – to his surprise as much as anyone’s.

But he has built on that win and what seem to be settled and happy professional and private lives. It just shows how important it is to be relaxed in golf.

Why Birkdale suits Fleetwood

It all means that he will go into an Open Championship being staged at his home course of Royal Birkdale later this month in the form of his life and with recent Major-challenging experience in his armoury, following his encouraging display at Erin Hills.

Birkdale should suit Fleetwood down to the ground. With its plentiful rough and bouncy fairways, it is not too dissimilar to the Golf National course he thrived on over the last few days. He is a strong ball flighter and can hit it low – and that’s exactly what you need in seaside golf.

146th Open Championship Media Day - Royal Birkdale
Royal Birkdale, in Fleetwood's home town of Southport, hosts the Open Championship later this month (Source: Getty)

Playing at your home course can go either way. Having extra attention on you brings pressure, but having lots of friends and family around is a comforting thing. He says he is looking forward to it and I think he’ll really enjoy it.

Winning in France has one other advantage for Fleetwood. In case he doesn’t qualify automatically for the European team, having won at the venue for next year’s Ryder Cup is an ace up his sleeve when it comes to attracting a captain’s pick.

Congratulations also to Mike Lorenzo-Vera, the leading home player in Paris, runner-up Peter Uihlein and Swedish rookie Alex Bjork, who all claimed well-earned qualifying spots for the Open. Well done too to Scotland’s Martin Laird, who did likewise by finishing tied for third in the Quicken Loans National on the PGA Tour.

McIlroy's juggling act

All eyes will be on Rory McIlroy this week when he attempts to juggle hosting duties with defending his title at the Irish Open.

It won’t be easy for the world No4 to flourish at his own tournament while there is so much going on to distract him, but with just one more event before the Open he will know that it’s time he started to hit top gear.

Read more: Tommy Fleetwood and why a first coach is like a first love

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