(Reuters) – Tommy Fleetwood hit a 400-yard-plus drive that took a hard bounce and rolled on and on and over the green on a par-four hole en route to a share of the first round lead at the British Masters in Surrey on Thursday.
Golf – European Tour – British Masters – Walton Heath Golf Club, Walton-on-the-Hill, Britain – October 11, 2018 England’s Tommy Fleetwood during the first round Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
He was apologetic after surprising the preceding group that was still on the green when the ball trundled up onto the putting surface and beyond at the par-four seventh hole at Walton Heath.
“That was a surprise, that one,” said Fleetwood, whose five-under-par 67 matched fellow Englishmen Eddie Pepperell and Matt Wallace.
Fleetwood has been a busy man since playing a major role in Europe’s victory at the Ryder Cup in Paris 11 days ago.
He finished tied for second at last week’s Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland, before heading back south to tee up this week outside London.
“I’m by no means the freshest I’ve ever been,” Fleetwood said.
“Last week I felt absolutely fine, honestly. I didn’t feel tired at all. This week I feel a bit more (tired) and next week I’ll be having a week off.”
Fleetwood shared the lead with two players who narrowly failed to make the European Ryder Cup team.
Before arriving in Surrey, Pepperell had never experienced the joys of scoring a hole-in-one on the European Tour.
On Thursday, he finally knew how it felt.
“It’s amazing,” Pepperell said after his ball somehow ended up in the cup at the par-three ninth, with even slow motion television replays failing to confirm exactly how.
“I’ve seen other guys make them every other week and always thought, ‘I feel like I hit good iron shots but have never made one.’”
He followed that ace with another eagle two holes later at the par-five 11th.
Wallace, a three-times winner on the European Tour this year, said he had been buoyed after having a chat with victorious Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn earlier this week.
Bjorn overlooked Wallace for any of his four wildcard picks, deciding instead to go with veterans.
“He said probably one of the nicest things someone has ever said to me as a golfer, but I won’t say what that is because it’s between me and him,” Wallace said referring to his conversation with Bjorn.
It was not such a great day for tournament host Justin Rose, the world number two, who blamed poor putting for his 74.
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Pritha Sarkar