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Interview with Tommy Fleetwood

Tommy Fleetwood sat down with All Square at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

The world #10 spoke about his goals for 2020, the Olympics and the Ryder Cup.

Tommy, you must love coming back to Abu Dhabi. You were champion here two years running (2017 & 18). How much do you enjoy this event?

A lot. I think the first few years I came here, I actually struggled. I always felt like I played pretty well, but I think I missed the cut for the first four years.

But I think as an event, it’s pretty much the best way to start the year. I’ve always enjoyed it. It throws you in at the deep end. It’s a really tough test if you’ve been at home for a few months and you come out here. But the hotel is amazing and you feel great.

I’ve been lucky enough to have a couple of really good years here. When I did win here, it sort of catapulted me on for the rest of the year.

What’s your goals for the year? World domination?

Of course there’s targets to do with results. I think everybody automatically assumes that the obvious ones are to win tournaments or to win Majors or to compete in Majors, and of course they are there.

But there’s other things I’d like to do. I want to get to the Olympics. The Ryder Cup is in September. There’s clear goals and clear things that I want to be part of that don’t necessarily involve results. I want to win Olympic Gold and I want to win the Ryder Cup. They are obvious, but I would really like to be part of them to start with.

And clear signs of improvement. There are certain parts of my game that I want to improve. Certain things about myself that I want to do better. I like the new year because it always seems like a fresh start, not just for me but for everyone. It’s always nice starting out again.

You mentioned about a win here, how it catapulted you forward. We saw it again with Shane Lowry last year and we’ve seen it with other players before. What is it about a victory in January that helps so much?

I think momentum. I had been in a slump for most of 2015 and 2016, but I felt by the end of 2016 I was playing really well. By 2017 I felt ready to have a really good year and ready to win a tournament again, and it just so happened that it was this one. 

I think it proved to myself that I was back to where I wanted to be and I think that gave me a lot of confidence. Fast forward a year and I think I’ve had the best year of my life. 2018 was just proof that I was continuing my good form.

You’ve had a break and you always come into this week as a little bit of an unknown. No matter how much practice you’ve done, you haven’t played a tournament and you don’t know how it’s going to go. If it goes well I think it’s a big step forward. There’s not really a better way to start the year than winning.

When you finish a season like you did last year, (Jon Rahm edged out Fleetwood to win the 2019 Race to Dubai) how easy is it to make the decision to put your clubs in the garage and rest for four or five weeks?

Very. It would have been harder if I had not played well. Last year had been so good in a lot of ways, but disappointing in others. I’ve learned from it for sure. You put so much emphasis on what you don’t have, and I hadn’t won a tournament for however long it had been. It was like a weight off my shoulders.

I had done so many good things, but at times people had played better than me, or maybe a couple times I may have given it away. DP World I played great, but Jon played better and he was the guy that deserved to win that week and win The Race to Dubai. I felt good. I felt like I had earned the time off and I had worked really hard. I was very happy to do nothing and just sit with my family and enjoy it.

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