Honma Hong Kong Open

Hong Kong Open drawcard Tommy Fleetwood celebrates Race to Dubai crown with ... more golf and a 5.30am start

The 26-year-old is aiming high for the new season and wants to kick start another big year at Fanling

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 November, 2017, 4:20pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 November, 2017, 9:57am

The European Tour may partner with one of the world’s most well known watch companies, but time waits for no one – not even Race to Dubai winner Tommy Fleetwood.

Fresh from landing the biggest achievement of his career at last week’s DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, the Englishman was up at the crack of dawn for Wednesday’s pro-am at Fanling.

It was just another box to tick in a hectic week for the 26-year-old, who is confident he can gather his thoughts in time to make a charge at the UBS Hong Kong Open.

“This morning wasn’t much of a reflection of my golf game, getting up at half five. That’s nobody’s idea of practice. But we’ll see, my game’s been in good shape for a few weeks,” he said.

“Every now and again over the last two or three days, I get five or 10 minutes to sit down and then you start thinking about it.

“The biggest thing is that it’s on my CV forever, it’s an accomplishment I’ll always have and it’s a big one to have.”

With the new European Tour season starting just days after the conclusion of the last, Fleetwood has had to shift focus quickly and knows expectations will be higher this time around.

“Last year, winning the Race to Dubai wasn’t even something that anybody mentioned until I won the French Open in July,” he said. “All of a sudden I was at the top by quite a bit and you’ve gone halfway through the year.

“At the start [of last season], I wanted to win a tournament again and there were other goals I wanted to achieve, get back into the top 50 in the world. This year might be a bit different, the goals will probably be a bit loftier.”

It has been a slow burn for Fleetwood, with a number of seasons floating in and around the top 100 in the world.

He is now ranked 19th after reaching as high as 14th during 2017 and he feels he now has the game to challenge regularly in the world’s biggest tournaments.

“I want to put myself up there again, WGCs and majors, I’d love to play all the majors next year,” said Fleetwood, whose career-best finish in a major came with his fourth at this year’s US Open.

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“I played better golf than I’ve ever played [this year], swung it better than I’ve ever swung it. I think once I won [the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship] and then finished second in [the WGC – Mexico Championship], confidence was a very strong point.

“Especially Mexico, one of the best fields of the year, I just played my game. I thought once I had a big finish in a world field, when my game came back next or when I played well, I knew I could finish it off on a Sunday or do well.”

A Ryder Cup debut in September is also a priority for Fleetwood, as is another Race to Dubai victory, and he is keen to get things underway in Hong Kong on a course where he tied for third last year.

“I’d love to go back-to-back Race to Dubai’s and this would be a good week to start,” he said. “I’d love to win another tournament, especially this one. I think this is quite a cool tournament to win, there is a few good names on this one.

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“I think I have a decent sort of mindset around [Fanling], because it’s one that you think you should be shooting quite low around because there’s a lot of short shots and you can reach the par fives. But it’s actually really difficult to get it close to the pins or actually make a score.

“You’ve got to have patience, which I feel is a strong point of mine. I feel good about the week.”