Young Briton Fleetwood blazes a trail in the Scottish sunshine



Yet another day in the blazing Scottish September sun, yet another boy-wonder lighting up England's golfing future.

Tommy Fleetwood underlined the thrilling strength of the burgeoning Brit pack with a 63 here to take the lead at the halfway point of the Dunhill Links.

The 20-year-old from Southport showed his love for the seaside with a blemish-free nine-under magnificence. And so this young pro looked up at the leaderboard and saw the names beneath him. Kaymer, McDowell, McIlroy, Westwood, Donald. A few words summed it up for him. "Cool," he said. "Really cool."

When pressed for more, Fleetwood spelt out the nature of his awe. "I've watched these guys on TV for years, analysing everything they do, trying to learn off them," he said. "Obviously my name is in pretty good company right now."

In truth, it has been threatening to join this exclusive gang for years. At 17, Fleetwood so almost became the youngest winner of the Amateur Championship, before losing to Reiner Saxton in the final. At the time this budding actor had just finished appearing in Macbeth in the school play. But he decided it was a putter he should see before him and so his progress continued.

Fleetwood won the English amateur, appeared at the 2009 Walker Cup and, after turning pro last year, made sure of his European Tour card for next year when winning the £55,000 first prize on the Challenge Tour's Kazakhstan Open last month. Next came this trip to golfing wonderland. "If I can shoot a decent score tomorrow then I could play with somebody like Kaymer or Westwood," he said, after coming within one of Westwood's course record. "That would be really, really cool."

Fleetwood is experienced enough to know the easier-said-than-doneness of that wish. Today, Fleetwood plays Carnoustie and the forecast is far rougher. "This was a great day to play Carnoustie," said McIlroy, after a 67 hauled him to eight-under. "You will never see it easier than this. Tomorrow it could be more difficult."

The heavyweights, meanwhile, go on to St Andrews and will fancy their chances of bringing the Old Course to her knees before Sunday's finale at the same course. Michael Hoey, the joint-leader from Ireland, shot a 66 at the Home of Golf on Thursday and another 66 here yesterday. In conditions on the submissive side of benign, 27 golfers are within five shots of the lead. And it is not merely Fleetwood disproving that youth is wasted on the young.

At 22, McIlroy feels positively medieval on this leaderboard. "I was talking to G-Mac [Graeme McDowell] about it out here today," he said. "A lot of young guys have just turned pro and as I proved when I came third here in 2008, this is a good event to do it, as there's so much money on offer. The guys coming out now, me included, are so much more ready to make that transition. They were basically professionals already and that is why you will see them winning their Tour cards so quickly."

Tom Lewis, the better-known English 20-year-old, is on seven-under, following a 69, while also at Carnoustie James Byrne, Lewis's Walker Cup team-mate, went to six-under. Yesterday's 71 was as bizarre as it was spectacular. "What a ball-striker," said Peter Dawson, the Royal & Ancient chief executive who had a ringside seat for all of the Byrne haymakers.

As his partner in this gargantuan pro-am, Dawson saw Lewis's fellow Walker Cupper hole-in-one on the 13th and eagle the next and, as he had birdied the 12th, it meant he was five-under for a three-hole stretch. "He hits the ball miles, but his distance control was incredible," said Dawson. "But there were a few destructive shots in there as well."

These came on the sixth and the 18th where he took two treble-bogey sevens. That's six dropped shots in two holes. "I'm sure cutting out the mistakes will come with experience," said Dawson. "This seems to be a very bright crop emerging."

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before