Young Briton Fleetwood blazes a trail in the Scottish sunshine

 

Kingsbarns

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
Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week