CARNOUSTIE, Scotland (Reuters) - Britain’s Tommy Fleetwood brought Carnoustie to its knees with a nine-under 63 at the Dunhill Links Championship in autumnal October but he said the memories of his course-record will count for little at this week’s British Open.
Conditions could not be more contrasting nine months on and a summer of permanent sunshine has left the straw-colored fairways rock hard, making it tough for the players to control the ball on the undulating links layout on the east coast of Scotland.
“It is a completely different course,” Fleetwood told reporters on Monday. “I’ve never played it this firm or fast, shots that you’ve hit (before) have literally no relevance for a lot of it.
“It doesn’t do any harm to have a course record but it’s a completely different challenge to what we normally face.”
Howling winds and driving rain turned Carnoustie into ‘Car Nasty’ at the 1999 British Open, leaving Tiger Woods to describe the venue as the hardest he had ever played.
Fleetwood, though, believes the layout is running so fast this time round that it almost does not matter what club a player chooses to use.
“There are so many holes where you’re going to be taking fairway bunkers on,” said the world number 10. “The 260 (yard mark) is a completely irrelevant number because any amount of clubs can go that far just with it playing that firm.
“There are certain holes where your game plan might be to hit driver off the tee simply because you’re not going to be able to hit a club that is going to take trouble out of play.”
Fleetwood is one of the favorites to win the coveted Claret Jug after going close to snatching his first major victory at last month’s U.S. Open.
The 27-year-old Englishman produced a swashbuckling 62 in the final round at Shinnecock Hills that left him one stroke behind the winner, American Brooks Koepka.
“Straight after the U.S. Open, literally, you want the British Open to be straight away because you’re on such a high,” said Fleetwood.
“The good thing about having results like the U.S. Open is that it is proof to yourself... that you have the game to compete and hopefully win majors. That’s what it’s all about.”
Editing by Ken Ferris