New Dad Tommy Fleetwood Steps Back Onto Favourite Stage
New father Tommy Fleetwood steps back into the competitive environment of the European Tour at his favourite destination on the circuit, as he looks to extend his lead at the summit of the Race to Dubai after enjoying a sparkling season to date.
Winning in Abu Dhabi and France, finishing runner-up to Dustin Johnson in the World Golf Championship in Mexico, and contending in the U.S. Open, it’s been a breakthrough year for the former world ranked number one amateur, whose imperious ball striking has impressed observers on both sides of the Atlantic. Despite those achievements, it can be said with certainty that the birth of his son last week will be main highlight of 2017 for the 26-year-old, irrespective of whether or not he tops the money list when the season ends next month.
“Yeah, it's just, I mean, anybody that has been through it will tell you it's surreal and it's amazing. It shouldn't be beautiful but it's the most beautiful thing you've ever seen in your life,” the man from Southport reflected on seeing baby Frankie for the first time. “Yeah, I think Clare was amazing, and you know, to have them both healthy, it's kind of a little wake-up -- everything has gone all right but I've loved it, I really have.”
Finishing in a tie for second three years ago, the Englishman is in pursuit of his second professional victory in Scotland, after winning the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles in 2013. Coming off a month away from competition after missing the cut in Switzerland at the Omega European Masters in early September, some players would defer to the easy excuse of rust, but the likeable Fleetwood is relishing the opportunity to step back onto the majestic stage of the Old Course.
“I always enjoy this tournament, and yeah, I think it's always a bit more expectation on this event because I've played well in the past. And I do, I love the (Old Course at) St. Andrews. It's my favourite course in the world but I think that might have evened itself out after six weeks off and what just happened. I'm looking forward to playing, and it's a great tournament to come back to.”
Being a joint-holder of the historic course’s record of 62 – and a runner-up alongside Rory McIlroy in 2014 – the world number 17 can point to a more than credible record at the most iconic setting in the game, which should serve as a tonic for any lapse in form that may have developed throughout his recent absence from the game as he attempts to resume his prodigious results of this year.
Having played in 18 events, Fleetwood enjoys a significant lead over both Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm on the Race to Dubai – both of whom are absent this week – and the former Scottish Amateur Strokeplay champion is looking to extend that advantage over the coming weeks as he attempts to become the first golfer from England to reach the peak since Luke Donald in 2011.
“It's a massively important time to sort of play well if you can, massive events. We all kind of know what's on the line, sort of thing. I would love to win The Race to Dubai, absolutely love it. I can't get away from it. I can't say, I won't think about it and I'll try and do -- just go through my processes because that's the goal now.”
Objectives – both professionally and in life – have been rapidly ticked off this year. Winning the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St. Andrews on Sunday – his most treasured venue – would complete the most special of fortnights and lead to even greater riches to come in the City of Gold.
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