Tommy’s quest for Open glory

Ormskirk Advertiser - - Sport - BY RICHARD WIL­LIAMSON richard.wil­liamson@trin­i­tymir­ror.com @rjwil

TOMMY FLEET­WOOD will launch his bid to be­come the first English win­ner of the Open Cham­pi­onship in 25 years along­side two of the sport’s most ex­cit­ing tal­ents.

The South­port player has been grouped with US Open win­ner Brooks Koepka and world num­ber two Hideki Mat­suyama, who fin­ished run­ner-up to the Amer­i­can, for the first two rounds.

The 26 year old will get un­der­way at 10.09 to­day in a match which is bound to at­tract a large gallery with the Formby Hall player be­ing tipped as a po­ten­tial win­ner of the 146th Open at Royal Birk­dale.

The trio filled three of the top four places at the US Open at Erin Hills and will again be ex­pected to fig­ure promi­nently on the leader­board at the fa­mous links on the Sefton coast­line. Wir­ral’s Paul War­ing is in the same group as Kyle Stan­ley, win­ner of the Quicken Loans Na­tional on the Amer­i­can PGA Tour this year, and Korean-born Kevin Na, who has won in both Amer­ica and Asia. War­ing re­turns to Birk­dale af­ter play­ing in the 2008 Open when he fin­ished joint 19th. He tees off at 3.32pm.

Former Lan­cashire county cham­pion Haydn McCullen, who won the fi­nal qual­i­fy­ing event at Hill­side, tees off at 3.54 along­side Li Hao­tong, who won the Volvo China Open in 2016 with an eight un­der par 64 on the fi­nal day, and Amer­i­can Kent Bulle.

Sir Nick Faldo was the last English­man to lift the Claret Jug at Muir­field while it is 48 years since Tony Jack­lin be­came the last English golfer to win on a course in his home coun­try when he tri­umphed at Lytham St Annes.

The open­ing shot of this year’s tour­na­ment will be played by 1998 Birk­dale win­ner Mark O’Meara at 6.35am.

De­fend­ing cham­pion Hen­rik Sten­son starts at 9.47am along­side Jor­dan Speith and Play­ers cham­pion Si Woo Kim.

Justin Rose, who fin­ished as best am­a­teur in a tie for fourth in 1998, starts at 9.58am, while Rory McIlory is out in the af­ter­noon (2.48pm) along­side Dustin John­son. Mas­ters cham­pion Ser­gio Gar­cia tees off at 1.04pm.

Tommy Fleet­wood tees off the 3rd dur­ing prac­tice day two of The Open Cham­pi­onship An­drew Matthews

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