Remember that furious final-round 63 Tommy Fleetwood shot at the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills?
The English star dropped eight birdies, in a single U.S. Open round, and finished by tying the all-time record.
Ian Finnis who has worked for Fleetwood for the past 13 years, kept the sentimental caddie bib, scorecard, and Fleetwood’s glove (all signed) and put them away for these past couple years.
As this COVID-19 pandemic hit, Finnis decided to step up for his fellow caddies and their families on the European Tour by doing online raffles and setting up a GoFundMe page to raise funds last month. He would raise an eye-popping 125,000 pounds… the goal was 30,000 pounds.
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Finnis ultimately decided to put up his U.S. Open bib in his raffle.
So close £100k if we get there by 7pm tomorrow will add this one off item!!! @usopengolf course record 63 bib signed by @TommyFleetwood1 and official score card! PLEASE RETWEET #usopenhistory £10 a ticket https://t.co/fnq6kp6h2x pic.twitter.com/aoFVVzNkPo
— ian finnis (@FinoEFC) April 24, 2020
“I just think to be brutally honest (the memorabilia) is historic but it’s a bittersweet day that was for me,” Finnis said. “It was one of the best rounds I’d ever seen and Tommy had his chance there and it could have been the best day ever, but at the end of the day the bib was just stuck in the back of my cupboard.”
So was there any hesitation for him to part with such historic pieces of both his and Fleetwood’s career?
“I did think about it, like, ‘should I keep this for the future and for the kids.’ Maybe they want it, and then I thought, ‘hopefully (my son) Freddy will shoot his own 63 in a U.S. Open’,” the father of three laughed. “It wasn’t easy to give up though, I’m not saying that. It was difficult to give up, but it was just the right thing to do I thought at the time. Everyone else was giving up a lot of stuff.”
Finnis set up a couple of live raffle draws with Fleetwood on Instagram, and the items were flowing in from other players. He got a 2019 Tour Championship winner’s bag from Rory McIlroy, signed 2018 Ryder Cup bibs, and basically enough golf memorabilia to keep any golf fan on the edge of their seat.
FINAL PRIZE!!!! @McIlroyRory 2019 winning Tour championship bag signed !!! PLEASE RETWEET !!! Massive thanks to Rory pic.twitter.com/JGypBtflVu
— ian finnis (@FinoEFC) April 24, 2020
At the end of the day, Finnis knew giving up his U.S. Open mementos, though bittersweet, was the right thing to do. And it helped that he heard directly from the winner afterward.
“The lady that won it sent me a message and said, ‘my son is only 12 years of age and he’s Tommy Fleetwood-mad, and he’s getting a frame to put it in his room!’ and I thought, ‘You know what? He’s going to really enjoy that every day seeing that every day in his room.’ Whereas in my house it was in my cupboard and never getting views,” Finnis said.
The 40-year-old caddie noticed many fans on social media, especially in the U.S., took notice of the bib.
“It got a lot of interest which was good for the raffle, a lot of people in America got in touch with me and said, ‘this is unbelievable, I love the U.S. Open and wow it’s tied for the lowest round in a U.S. Open and it’s Shinnecock Hills of all places! Not many people are going to shoot 63 around Shinnecock Hills in a U.S. Open’.”
And even Finnis’ good friend, the putting coach Phil Kenyon, sent him a message saying, ‘what are you doing putting that bib on there?’”
Looking back on what could have been, Finnis still has a good banter with his boss about how that epic round finished. Remember Fleetwood not only fell just short of a U.S. Open all-time 62, but also ended one shot shy of Brooks Koepka for the title that day.
“He should have shot 62. (Tommy) tells me I misread (the final 8-foot birdie putt). I tell him, ‘you never hit it hard enough’,” Finnis laughed. “I factored in adrenaline, he didn’t have any.
“But he was pretty calm there, that was something I sort of realized. Anyway, it was still a great day, but it is what it is.”