Tommy Fleetwood returned to Carnoustie, where he shot a course-record 63 exactly a year ago in the same event, with “energy and drive” after recovering from what looked to be a Ryder Cup hangover to make a satisfactory start in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
On a day when two old warhorses, Paul McGinley and Padraig Harrington, opened promisingly with matching three-under 69s at Kingsbarns, Fleetwood was pleased with his battling 71 at the same venue after being three-over with eight holes to play in a strong wind. “The energy levels are alright,” said the Englishman, who joined forces with Francesco Molinari to win four matches out of four in the pairs format in last week’s match against the Americans in Paris.
“I feel pretty motivated, felt like I wanted to play. I would like a lie-in soon… It’s always tough when you come off a big week – and the Ryder Cup is the biggest – to play again. But so far I’ve felt like I wanted to get to work again.
“Sometimes you start off on fire and then it hits you. But today I came back from three- over to one-under, so that shows I still have the energy and drive.”
Meanwhile, Matt Kuchar, one of US captain Jim Furyk’s assistants in France, refused to criticise Patrick Reed for hitting out at one of his team-mates, Jordan Spieth, in the wake of last week’s defeat.
Speaking after having to settle for a one-over-par 73 at Kingsbarns, he said: “Patrick is great. I think losing always makes the guys more determined. As an individual and a team. None of us take losing well, but we’ll all be hungry to get back in there and get them next time. For me, not making the team, that was kind of losing to a degree. It gives me more incentive to play better for the next one.”
Stephen Gallacher, the 2004 winner, made the best start among the home contingent as he signed for the same score as Fleetwood at Kingsbarns. “It was really tough,” said Gallacher. “There was no into or downwind, just straight across. I played lovely, just had two bad holes, two doubles. Take them out and it’s a really good score.”