Tommy Fleetwood Finally Misses Cut After Incredible Run
THE Titanic struck an iceberg and sank in 1912. It was beginning to feel that long since Tommy Fleetwood last missed a cut, so you can imagine the surprise when he recorded two rounds of 76 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational to find himself unemployed for the weekend for the first time in 48 attempts.
It has been an extraordinary run, especially when you consider that it was achieved on both the European and PGA Tours on all sorts of different golf courses. He arrived at Bay Hill still smarting from the criticism delivered by Paul Azinger, who expressed the view that European golfers needed to win on the PGA Tour before they could be considered to be world-class. Colin Montgomerie may have something to say about that.
Fleetwood came to the final hole at the Honda Classic needing a birdie four to force a playoff but carved his five-wood approach into the water and ended up finishing third after a bogey.
He had made 33 straight cuts on the PGA Tour, which was the longest active streak entering the week and kind of makes a complete and utter nonsense of Azinger’s comments - during that time Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas et al have all missed cuts - plenty of them. Fleetwood’s last missed cut came at the 2018 French Open, while his last early exit on the PGA Tour came at the 2018 Wells Fargo Championship.
“I just had a bad week, really. It was going to happen eventually,” Fleetwood said. “I was just poor on most fronts this week. It’s disappointing. You could say after about 30 holes it didn’t really, you know, that was it then. And then you’ve sort of lost any kind of momentum.”
With Fleetwood’s cut streak coming to an end, the longest active streak on the PGA Tour now belongs to Collin Morikawa, who has made 20 straight cuts to begin his pro career.
So what went wrong for Fleetwood? He said that he chipped poorly and failed to make the most of the par fives, which he played in one over par. He also missed too many fairways, something you cannot afford to do at Bay Hill.
“I made two birdies. Two birdies and a lot of bogeys doesn’t really help,” he said. “I say if you’re going to do it, do it properly and be dreadful on all fronts.”
Fleetwood insisted that Azinger’s comments had not affected him but it is surely more than just a coincidence that he should fail to make the weekend at the very next tournament. So he will head to TPC Sawgrass and The Players Championship with a new-found determination, aiming to ram Azinger’s words down his throat. And Fleetwood has a decent record record there, finishing tied fifth and tied seventh there in the past two years.
“Every time you tee off as a professional golfer, whether people say it or not, your first prerogative is to make the cut. You can’t win if you don’t make the cut,” Fleetwood said. “It was a good run. If there was two or three wins and two or three missed cuts, that would probably be better. But all you can do is move on to next week now. I’ve missed a cut, so maybe now I can go to the other end of the spectrum next week and get a win.”
There has been much debate about the distance modern-day tour professionals hit the ball. Your correspondent has always held the belief that the answer is simply to make today’s courses more difficult, and Bay Hill proves the point. It is not a monster, and yet it almost reduced many of the world’s best golfers to tears.
How? Quite simple really. If you miss the fairway a) you will struggle to find your golf ball, and b) if you do find it you will be hacking the ball back out onto the fairway unless you are very fortunate. It is a course that puts accuracy at a premium, which is surely how golf is meant to be played. And it features some of the most difficult par threes in the game, with large greens, water and clever bunkering - miss those greens and you will almost certainly be walking off with a bogey or worse.
It is also a layout where they refuse to saturate the putting surfaces. It means that the players have to think about their approach shots. They can’t just fire every ball at the flag because if they do the chances are that they will finish off the back of the green. Let’s see more of this please.
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