From doubtful starter to clubhouse leader, Tommy Fleetwood’s ‘chuffed’

0
111
Tommy Fleetwood - TheGolfingHub
Tommy Fleetwood went into The Players Championship not in the best of form, but it could all change after the start at TPC Sawgrass. Photo: finnoexpert.com

The Players Championship features the top-50 on the OWGR, and Tommy Fleetwood made it by the skin of his teeth, and here he is with the clubhouse lead at TPC Sawgrass. Excerpts from an interview

Tommy, opening round 6-under 66. Just get some general comments about the first day.

Tommy Fleetwood: It’s a great first day. I’m chuffed to be in on that score. I felt like I drove the ball well aside from a couple, and I felt like I chipped and putted great. For sure, like that was the most I could have got out of the round. So days like that are very, very pleasing. I think there’s things that I can do better. So I’ll try to do that over the next few days. Again, I’m not going to complain about the day or anything. I’ll just move on and be happy with a 66.

Related: Adding weight to irons gives wings to Anirban Lahiri

Tommy, you were actually quite close to not qualifying for this championship. I think you were 50th in the world with the top 50 getting in.

Fleetwood: Close enough.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by THE PLAYERS (@theplayerschamp)

What’s been the issue the last year or so? Why have you dropped to where you are?

Fleetwood: I haven’t played well. I think there’s been certain things in my swing, if you like, that I haven’t quite understood, and I would say feelings and shots that I have seen haven’t quite matched up with what I’ve always felt and thought like. So then your confidence takes a hit because you’re not quite comfortable out on the golf course. I would say that, if you’re not playing very well, especially out here, the standard is so, so high and it keeps getting higher, when you’re off the pace and you’re lacking confidence, the game becomes very, very difficult. I haven’t sort of played terrible. My results haven’t been terrible, but I’ve lacked obviously very good results. And then I think especially from a World Ranking standpoint, that makes it very, very difficult. So I’ve just sort of been gradually declining. So, yeah, it’s been difficult. I just haven’t played like I can or how I expect to play. But you know, things change. Let’s see.

When you’re not playing your best, does it make it harder to play such a global schedule like you do, going back and forth?

Fleetwood: Yeah, definitely, because you’re playing minimal events on both tours. Even in my best years, if you say my best years, I was always starting – like a lot of the guys, I was way behind the 8-ball when I started and just played very consistently throughout those years. So it’s difficult when you need — you obviously always need good results, or very good results to then make headway, and when you don’t get them, it obviously becomes very difficult. Again, when you’re not seeing good scores and the shots aren’t quite there, it just becomes harder and harder for it to change that momentum.

Tommy, the years you played well here, the two years, what about this course matches up well to your game or vice versa? And extending into today, what clicks when you’re playing this course well?

Fleetwood: I would say it’s very much a ball striker’s golf course. I think my strengths over the years have always been hitting it in play off the tee. Very consistent, hit a lot of greens with my irons and never really put myself in too much trouble and have a very sort of patient attitude and mindset. It’s very much — I love this golf course. I really, really do. If you play well, you get rewarded, and if you play poorly, you’re going to struggle to make a score. I think it’s major-like in that sense.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by THE PLAYERS (@theplayerschamp)

Again, when I’m playing well, I’m obviously going to drive it well and put the ball in play a lot and then not make too many mistakes. So the years that I did play well, I obviously did that particularly well.

Burning question: Why did you shave the beard, and are you growing it back?

Fleetwood: I was in a really bad mood. It was like break some golf clubs or shave my beard, then I went for the beard.

How difficult has been this stretch since you last won, getting through it and keep going on forward?

Fleetwood: I think all of us live and breathe the game. So when it’s not going your way, it’s always — but I would say that without high expectations, then none of the players out here would be who they are, and they wouldn’t get to where they are. So everybody has to have high expectations, but then there’s a balance between how you’re actually playing and what you’re doing.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by PGA TOUR (@pgatour)

So there’s like sometimes this contrast when you’re not playing too well. It’s been fine. I still have one of the best jobs in the world. I’ve just not been performing to the level that I want to perform at. Again, I’m not going to sit here and moan or complain about playing poorly for a couple of years. That’s down to me and people around me to improve and get better and do the right things. I feel like we’re doing that. You just focus on day by day and try and build confidence and try to shoot low scores like today.

PGA Tour