Tommy Fleetwood Is Working on a Year of Possibilities
At the Scottish Open last October at the Renaissance Club in North Berwick, England’s Tommy Fleetwood lost to England’s Aaron Rai on the first hole of the playoffs, missing a putt for par.
Fleetwood, ranked No. 33 in the world, will try again this week at the Renaissance course for the third year in a row.
Next week he will compete in the British Open at the Royal St. George’s Golf Club in Kent, England, and then, along with Paul Casey, Fleetwood will represent England at the Olympics in Japan. In September, he is expected to play his second Ryder Cup. In 2018, he went 4-1 in Team Europe’s victory over the United States.
Fleetwood, 30, recently spoke about his game and the opportunities ahead. The conversation has been condensed and edited.
Can you tell us about the course and the tournament?
I think it should be good for the guys who come before the [British] Open. It is as close as possible to the golf links, from a competition point of view, anywhere in the world at that point, and it’s going to be a really good group of players.
How do you feel this year has gone for you?
He didn’t go far like I would have liked. I very rarely competed at the top of the rankings. All of the pieces of the puzzle have been present at different times, but not all are present. I feel closer now than I have been in a few months.
What do you think of going to the Olympics?
To be part of the biggest sporting event in the world, with so many top athletes, is very special and will be a privilege. I grew up in golf, and we have four majors that define the careers of players, but you get them four times a year, every year. You watch the Olympics and these guys train for four years for that one opportunity, and it’s over in nine seconds. I’ve always been inspired by those guys who train for those times.
You must be excited about another Ryder Cup appearance.
Yes. You become such a family. You got so wrapped up in it. I am delighted to do it again. This moment when we won the Ryder Cup is about as good as I have had in sports.
The next few months have so many possibilities for you.
It could be the most amazing summer for me. Whatever happens, I will be taking part in the Open, which is my favorite event. I am going to be an Olympic athlete. I’m going to play the Ryder Cup. It’s gonna be a bunch of really cool stuff. It makes me smile when I talk about it, thinking about what’s to come.
Was Ernie Els your first idol in the game?
Yes. He did a clinic in Wentworth, and I went there when I was 7 or 8 years old. I still have the photo with him. There was just something about Ernie that I liked. I tried to copy his swing when I was little, and when I went on tour and met him, it was even better. He was so nice to me. He completely lived to be my hero when he was a child.
You jumped over the fence at Royal Birkdale in England as a kid, and this was the first tournament you played?
Southport is my hometown, and in 1998 the Open came along, and I was 7 years old. We didn’t have tickets. Back then there were a few more shortcomings than there are now that you could overcome. On the 5th tee side, dad threw me over the fence to get in and climbed over.
Who did you watch that day?
I looked at everyone. I remember Tiger walking past me over a hole, and I remember the aura he had with him. The Open is such an amazing atmosphere. Being inside and being a part of the park was really cool for a 7 year old.
What do you think of the Royal St. George’s?
I don’t know the course. I never played it. It’s a rarity that I haven’t played on one of the Open courses. I will prepare as best I can.
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