By Simon Evans
PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland (Reuters) – There was no disguising Tommy Fleetwood’s disappointment after finishing runner-up in the British Open on Sunday, with the Englishman left conceding glumly that the mountainous task set by Irish winner Shane Lowry had been just too steep for him.
“It was an amazing atmosphere but the mountain was too high to climb. You have to stay in it, but it was not to be,” said Fleetwood after he was unable to overturn Lowry’s four-shot lead in wretched weather.
The Englishman looked dejected as he played out the final two holes, knowing that the six-stroke lead that Lowry had established was now secure.
“It was Shane’s time, Shane’s week, fair play,” he said of his friend Lowry, who finished on 15-under 269 to Fleetwood’s nine-under 275.
In truth, Fleetwood had openings early in the round, chances to make birdies and put Lowry under pressure, but when he needed to be on fire with the putter, he ran cold.
The tone was set when he missed a six-foot birdie putt on the first hole. With Lowry making bogey, that would have instantly reduced the Irishman’s lead to just two strokes.
“Them first few holes, when you start four back, pretty crucial. I didn’t do a good enough job of pressing at that point,” he said.
“I played well early on, but margins … the putts on one, two and three, I scrambled a bit and missed a short one on 10.
“Obviously I am disappointed and a bit low. I look at it now, six shots back, but the last three or four holes were kind of a bit of a procession for Shane, and he did great.”
But after a second runners-up spot in a major championship, following his second place at last year’s U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hils, the Englishman was at least able to feel a sense of progress.
“That’s the first time I’ve played in the last group of a major on a Sunday,” he said.
“You never know what this game will give you and I am so happy to finish so high in a major. I will take the positives from this. It’s a little bit upsetting to see everyone when you come in, but it’s only golf, I’ll be fine.”
“You learn things as you go. You learn things about yourself. I watched Shane in The Open. I watched how he conducted himself and how he played.
“And for four rounds of golf, I was the second-best player in the event, which is a great achievement. You have to look at it like that. I’m sure in a few hours or a couple of days I might see that.
“I’m trending in the right way. I just hope my time will come eventually.”
(Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Ian Chadband)