More than any other sport, golf, when it boils down to it, is a numbers game. This week, Tommy Fleetwood’s have been almost better than anybody’s.
The 27-year-old Englishman’s 15-under par 195 total has him just two strokes off the lead of Justin Rose through three rounds at the water-logged BMW Championship at Aronimink Golf Club. It’s also his lowest 54-hole total by eight shots, which is saying at least a little something for a guy who has four career wins and is ranked 12th in the world.
Scoring has indeed been incredibly low this week. There have already been 28 rounds of 64 or better from the 69-man field, and the scoring average is sub-68 on the par-70 layout. Tiger Woods, Rory McIlory and Kevin Na also each shot 62 this week. But so did Fleetwood – twice.
In the first of those two majestic rounds, Fleetwood, one of the game’s best ball-strikers, didn’t miss a green and hit all but one fairway. One round later, he hit 15 greens and again missed the fairway just once.
“When you start feeling confident with the long irons, your game is coming together,” Fleetwood said on Saturday, having played two straight rounds in which he made 16 birdies and no bogeys. “Been a good two days.”
Indeed. In the modern game of bomb-and-gouge, the stuff that happens in the middle is still where golf is most interesting. It’s also where Fleetwood excels.
By shooting back-to-back 62s, he became just the 10th player to shoot 124 or better in consecutive rounds. The last to do it? Justin Thomas at last year’s Sony Open in Hawaii, which worked out pretty well.
Which brings us to the only number that really matters in the end: one. As in Fleetwood looking for his first career victory on the US PGA Tour, which he is playing full-time for the first time this season.
Fleetwood has played well on the western side of the pond – a runner-up at the US Open, a fourth-place finish at the Honda Classic, a tie for sixth in Canada, a tie for seventh at the Players. He just hasn’t won.
“I keep doing the same thing,” he said when asked about getting over the hump. “Especially recently I shot some good rounds and then just it’s not quite happened and I either played poor or whatever. It just happens sometimes. That’s just the way it is.
“Winning is not supposed to be easy and it’s my first year on the PGA Tour, still different winning, I know, and slightly different environment and something that you kind of – you have to accept a little bit. It’s easy to get frustrated when you’re out of position all the time and not getting the results that you want or you’re getting that win that you feel like you’re playing well enough to get.”
Will this be Fleetwood’s week? The way he’s playing winning on golf’s biggest stage is going to happen, too, sooner than later.