Tuesday 21 November 2017

Fleetwood takes French title as Dunne finds form

Tommy Fleetwood. Photo: Reuters
Tommy Fleetwood. Photo: Reuters

Phil Casey

Tommy Fleetwood will tee it up in the Irish Open on Thursday in the form of his life after claiming a second victory of the season in the Open de France.

Paul Dunne will also head to Portstewart with a spring in his step after shooting 65 in his final round, which included just 23 putts.

Dunne, who needs at least a top 10 finish this weekend or in the Scottish Open the following week if he is to book a place at The Open Championship in Birkdale, started strongly with birdies at the second and third before dropping a shot at the fourth.

He steadied the ship with four consecutive pars before picking up birdies at the ninth, 12th and 13th and finished tied 13th.

Fleetwood, meanwhile, carded a flawless final round of 66 to finish 12-under - a shot ahead of overnight joint leader Peter Uihlein.

The 26-year-old from Southport, who used to sneak on to the Open venue of Royal Birkdale as a kid, was 188th in the world last September, but will be a career-high 15th when the rankings are updated today.

Fleetwood has reaped the rewards of returning to his former coach Alan Thompson and followed his second European Tour victory in Abu Dhabi in January by finishing fourth in the US Open.

"To win a Rolex Series event- knowing how big the stature is - is a big deal for me. I played great today, felt comfy again and it's always great to test your game and test what you work on every day under the ultimate pressure," he said after collecting the trophy.

"Life's just been great. I'm engaged, expecting a baby, my fiancé is my manager, my caddie's one of my best mates and Thommo is the best coach in the world."

He earned a career-best first prize of £915,000, eclipsing the £850,000 he won by finishing second to world number one Dustin Johnson in the WGC-Mexico Championship in March.

Fleetwood began the final round a shot off the lead, but he quickly wiped out that deficit after coming within a fraction of spinning his tee shot on the second back into the hole.

A birdie on the par five third took Fleetwood into the lead and another on the ninth restored his advantage after Sweden's Alexander Bjork recovered from a bogey on the first with birdies on the fifth and seventh.

Fleetwood moved further ahead with birdies on the 13th and 14th and although Uihlein picked up shots on the same holes and piled on the pressure with a birdie on the 17th, the American could not hole a bunker shot on the 18th to force a play-off.

At the Quicken Loans National in Maryland, Waterford's Seamus Power carded a final round 73 to finish on three over par.

Irish Independent

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