Can Tommy Fleetwood Vanquish The Ghosts of Championships Past?

Tommy Fleetwood, Players Championship,(Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Tommy Fleetwood, Players Championship,(Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) /

Can Tommy Fleetwood make Players Championship history on Sunday and in the process vanquish the ghosts of championships past?

Tommy Fleetwood will be attempting to become the first English winner of the Players Championship on Sunday.

Fleetwood has been applying his trade for well over a decade on the professional level now and he has been competing in PGA Tour events since 2013, yet, the Englishman is still searching for his first PGA win.

Make no mistake, Tommy is certainly no stranger to winning, though. He has won seven times over the course of his career in some of the biggest events across the globe, the most recent of which came at the Nedbank Golf Challenge on the DP World Tour last November.

But Fleetwood has become known as a bit of a ‘so-nearly’ man for his inability to get across the line in majors and on the PGA Tour thus far. It’s a bit of a harsh label but one which he will bare regardless until his time finally comes.

Perhaps, his moment will come on Sunday at this year’s Players Championship where he is within touching distance of leader Scottie Scheffler heading into the final round.

On a day that played as one of the easiest in Players Championship history, Tommy Fleetwood took advantage of the great conditions. A  7-under 65 sent him flying up the leaderboard on Saturday and to within five shots of the leader.

Tommy Fleetwood is aiming to achieve a life-long goal on Sunday.

It’s one that he has been so close to grasping time and time again.

The most notable of chances came in three of his major championship appearances, at the 2017 U.S. Open (4th), the 2018 U.S. Open (2nd), both of which were won by Brooks Koepka, and the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush when he finished runner-up to eventual winner Shane Lowry. 

Despite numerous top 5s on the PGA Tour and several close calls in major championships, however, Tommy Fleetwood isn’t putting an added emphasis on earning that first PGA Tour win as he heads into Sunday’s final round at the Players Championship.

“No, not really. That’s been a goal, a dream, an incentive as long as I’ve been playing out
here. Yeah, sure, I would have loved to have done it by now. I would have loved to have done it multiple times. But I haven’t, so tomorrow’s another chance,” he responded when asked if there was extra incentive going into Sunday because he hadn’t yet won on the PGA Tour.

"“I think it will be great to go out there teeing off on Sunday with a chance to win THE PLAYERS Championship. I think that’s an amazing feeling, and I look forward to that tomorrow. But I think what’s important for me is to sort of play like the player that I want to be and be at that standard with the best players in the world and keep giving yourself more and more chances.”     – Tommy Fleetwood"

It also won’t be the first time that Fleetwood has found some success at the Players Championship. He has finished inside the top 10 at TPC Sawgrass on two occasions over his last five starts at the Players Championship (T5 in 2019 and T7 in 2018).

The visible emotion that Tommy Fleetwood showed after coming so close at the 148th Open Championship is one of the reasons why he has become such an endearing character to fans and fellow competitors alike.

Fleetwood’s time will come and it may even be at this year’s Players Championship.

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Sure, he will need some help from leader Scottie Scheffler along the way, but should the moment arise and Fleetwood was to vanquish the ghosts of championships past, there wouldn’t be many who would begrudge him of that moment.