LOS ANGELES — Tommy Fleetwood’s run at the Los Angeles Country Club came just a day late, but was still incredibly impressive.
Fleetwood hit two eagles in the final round of the U.S. Open on Sunday afternoon, becoming the first player since 1990 to score a pair in the first round at the tournament. His second eagle of the day moved him into the top five. He also joined the leaderboard, but the final pairing of Rickie Fowler and Windham Clark had yet to tee off.
Fleetwood marked an even par 70 in the third round to enter Sunday with two overs. That put him 12 shots behind Fowler and Clark, almost out of contention for his third major championship of the season.
But the 32-year-old Briton had a near-perfect round of golf. He birdied the second hole and drove deftly down the blind green on the par-4 6th. His tee shot landed safely about six feet from the cup on a narrow green nestled under a dangerous hill and bunkers, over dense barranca, and landed an easy eagle putt.
That eagle, which put Fleetwood under par in this tournament, was just third on that hole of the tournament.
Fleetwood’s rapid advance didn’t stop there. Three more birdies over the next five holes, and on the par-5 14th Fleetwood managed to land his second shot on the green from the left rough. He landed a 20-foot eagle putt that sank deep into the cup and stunned the surrounding crowd.
Fleetwood bogeyed in a fairway bunker on the 16th, but still finished with a 7-under 63. It was one of the best rounds a player in the field has carded this week, just one shot short of the tournament records of Rickie Fowler and Xander. Schauffele had a hit on Thursday. He missed a birdie putt that should have tied the record on the 18th. Fleetwood finished the week at 5-under par and had a strong fifth-place solo record when he entered the clubhouse. He tied for fifth with Lee Min Woo and Rickie Fowler, five shots behind eventual winner Windham Clark.
Fleetwood struggled for most of the run leading up to Sunday in Los Angeles. He went three overs in the first round and went one under par on Friday with six birdies and five bogeys. But he is the first player in U.S. Open history to shoot 63 or more in two rounds, and the first to do so in 2018.
“Of course it’s a great piece of history,” Fleetwood said. “And I may be disappointed that I didn’t get a good result today, but being able to do that and hit many times in the 63-second range in the majors will be in my memory bank like today. I think it’s a day you’ll know right away if you put it in.” It’s really great to be able to go through rounds smoothly and consistently hit low scores on major golf courses. ”
Fleetwood is yet to win on the PGA Tour, but won last week’s RBC Canadian Open by an incredibly close margin. Fleetwood lost to Nick Taylor in the four-hole playoff in Toronto, becoming the first Canadian to win the tournament in nearly 70 years. Fleetwood has seven top-25 finishes this season, including a fifth-place finish at the Wells Fargo Championship and a third-place finish at the Valspar Championship in March. Fleetwood also came close to winning the 2018 US Open, but Brooks Keopka won by a shot at Shinnecock Hills.
Arguably too far for him to make an impact, Fleetwood’s rush on Sunday was a remarkable feat. That will give him a much higher salary by the end of the night.