Fleetwood held a share of the lead after an opening 67 at Walton Heath, in his quest for the title and the £3m prize, but the Ryder Cup star failed to card a single birdie in a second round of 77 to fall eight shots off the pace set by fellow Englishman Eddie Pepperell.
A 78 in the third round of the US Open is the only time Fleetwood has posted a higher score this season and he will be hoping he bounces back in the same manner, a closing 63 at Shinnecock Hills equalling the championship record and seeing him finish just a shot behind winner Brooks Koepka.
“I just had a nightmare on the greens really,” Fleetwood told reporters. “I actually played all right. I basically three-putted 11, 12 and 13 and literally had no idea what the break was going to do or the wind. I never once got it right.
“It was so difficult. I holed my fair share yesterday but I was so far out today on the greens. I can easily think of shots to save and get it round in level par.”
Fleetwood is playing his 11th tournament in 14 weeks, a run which included all four FedEx Cup play-off events and Europe’s Ryder Cup triumph in Paris, but was not about to cite fatigue as a factor.
“It’s an easy excuse but honestly I played fine,” added Fleetwood, who is hoping to catch Ryder Cup partner Francesco Molinari – who was two shots worse off after a 73 – and win the Race to Dubai for a second year in succession.
“I’m obviously a long way back now but we don’t know what the weather conditions are going to be and if I hit it like that I feel perfectly ok about the weekend ahead.
“It was just one of them days. Sometimes in the wind it’s easy to just pack in and I could have easily started winging it on the back nine, but I played well enough to get to two or three under.
“You have bad days but that’s the nature of the game and I’m not going to dwell on it too much. I had a poor day but there’s a weekend’s golf and every shot counts at the end of the year – you never know what difference it’s going to make.”
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