ST ANDREWS, September 21, 2018 – The world of golf is hoping for a classic rematch next month on the grandest stage of all, the Old Course at St Andrews, when US Open champion Brooks Koepka and the man he beat at Shinnecock Hills in June, Tommy Fleetwood, will compete in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
Everyone remembers how Fleetwood shot a record-equalling 63 in the final round of the US Open, but still lost by a shot to Koepka.
Now Fleetwood, the World No.12, says nothing would please him more than to turn the tables on Koepka.
“He’s done it a couple of times to me in the US Open, so maybe I can get my own back at the Dunhill,” says Tommy. “I couldn’t do much about what Brooks did at Shinnecock, but I can look back and think what it might be like to have my first Major Championship, but hopefully that will come in time.
“If I could do one thing differently about that week in Shinnecock it would be in the third round where I ended up making a triple bogey. And I would love to play those last three holes again where I had chances to get better than a 63,” he added.
Koepka has won three of his last six Major Championships – the US Open twice and the US PGA – but Fleetwood says he will be taking him on in very familiar territory when the Championship is staged from October 4-7.
“I’ve always loved the Old Course, and the town, ever since I played the Links Trophy as an amateur. There are places in the town where there are pictures of guys sitting on the Swilken Bridge with the Dunhill trophy. I’ve come so close, three or four times, I would love to have my picture up there as well.
“Tyrrell Hatton (champion in 2016 and 2017) has had some great runs the last couple of years and he’s obviously dominated for a while. If he does three in a row that’s an amazing accomplishment. But there are so many quality players in the field.
“It’s been a good season for me in terms of going over to America. Rising in the world rankings and holding my place is a good sign. I’ve established myself in the top 15 / 20 in the world. I would like another win or two, and I’ve got a couple of things to do to improve that.”
Next week, before the Alfred Dunhill Links, Fleetwood will be regarded as one of the strongmen of the European Ryder Cup Team taking on the Americans at Paris’ Le Golf Nacional. How exciting will that be?
“Very. It’s getting very real. I’ve been trying to leave the excitement as late as possible, but with the teams being finalised and the captain’s picks being announced it’s all getting going,” says Tommy. “It’s amazing to be part of it when you’ve wanted it for so long.
“I think it’s going to be very special in Paris. I know America have one of the strongest teams in history for them, but I honestly believe we are as well. It all depends how you play on the day, but I really do think we have a great chance this year.”
For Tommy, from Southport in Lancashire, whatever happens on the golf course, it’s been a very special year. His son Franklin was born days before last year’s Alfred Dunhill Links and came to St Andrews with mother Clare.
Tommy says: “It’s not the easiest emotionally being away so much on tour. You miss them, but it’s just a part of your life. It’s definitely the best thing that’s happened to me by a mile. Clare and Franklin will definitely be coming to St Andrews for the Dunhill.
“When The Open was on at Carnoustie, after my morning tee time on the Friday we took him on to the beach in St Andrews. I had to take him just to have a look. It’s one of my favourite places.”
Fleetwood faces a world-class field in the Alfred Dunhill Links next month. In addition to Koepka, world No.15 Tony Finau and highly popular Matt Kuchar will be playing, along with Major Champions Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington, Trevor Immelman, Martin Kaymer Graeme McDowell and Louis Oosthuizen, plus Spain’s Miguel Angel Jiménez, winner of the Senior British Open in July.
There is a strong turnout of British golfers in addition to Hatton, including Matthew Fitzpatrick, recent winner of the European Masters, Eddie Pepperell and Matt Wallace, who finished tied 19th in the US PGA Championship, his first Major, which included a memorable hole-in-one. Wallace is another golfer in form after his sudden death victory in the Made in Denmark event.
Among former Alfred Dunhill Links winners in the field are Simon Dyson, Stephen Gallacher, Branden Grace, David Howell, Robert Karlsson and Michael Hoey.
The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship celebrates links golf at its finest and is played over three of the world’s best known and respected links courses – the Old Course at St Andrews, Carnoustie, venue for July’s Open Championship, and the highly regarded Kingsbarns Golf Links.
With a prize fund of US$5 million, the Alfred Dunhill Links, which raises substantial funds for charity each year, incorporates two separate competitions – an individual professional tournament for the world’s leading golfers and the Team Championship, in which the pro’s are paired with amateur players, creating a unique atmosphere.
A ‘super group’ of great music stars, past and present, will be playing, including Keane’s Tom Chaplin, Linkin Park’s Dave Farrell, music giant Ronan Keating and Brian McFadden, former lead singer of Westlife, Mike Rutherford from Genesis, and hugely popular legends Huey Lewis and Bon Jovi’s Tico Torres.
Sports stars taking part include Sir Steve Redgrave, making his 18th straight appearance, cricketers Michael Vaughan, Kevin Pietersen, Allan Lamb, Shane Warne and Jacques Kallis, Irish rugby legend Brian O’Driscoll, 20-times National Hunt champion jockey Sir Tony (A.P.) McCoy and Dutch football legend Ruud Gullit.