Fleetwood hits the highlight reel at UBS Hong Kong Open
Englishman has his moment as he moves two strokes behind leaders Sam Brazel and Rafa Cabrera Bello after three rounds of competition
There was a flash of magic from Tommy Fleetwood at the par-five 15th on Saturday when the Englishman turned to an old friend – and that old friend duly delivered the goods.
It was the highlight reel moment of the day at the UBS Hong Kong Open and an effort that kept the 25-year-old hot on the heels and just two strokes behind of leaders Sam Brazel and Rafa Cabrera Bello turning for home.
So let’s let Fleetwood have his moment.
“My juices were flowing at the time,” explained Fleetwood. “I was feeling great. Ripped my tee shot and I said walking off the tee ‘Let’s eagle this.’ Got up there and had like the perfect yardage with a five-wood, and five-wood is my favourite club. I just hit a good shot and had a six-footer and holed that one. I had missed a few putts really up until that point and the more I missed, the more I was getting pumped up - and I just played that hole great.”
The truth of the matter is that the Southport-born world number 122 has been playing pretty great all week, his ever-consistent irons proving well-suited to the Hong Kong Golf Club’s tight layout.
If not for an agonising missed putt on the last, Fleetwood’s day was pretty near perfect and he came off the course talking about how he’d put the dark days of 2015 well and truly behind him.
“I haven’t won for a long time, and last year –I had a year out of the game really,” said Fleetwood. “I was playing dreadful from mid 2015 to mid this year. Just rubbish. My game’s been coming back and I’ve had some good results towards the end of the year.”
They’ve included four top-20 finishes in the second half of the year and Fleetwood – winner of the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles in 2013 said since August he’d been getting his feeling back for the game, with some familiar faces in his camp.
“I went back to my old coach and I’ve had one of my best mates on the bag since July pretty much,” said Fleetwood. “Things have just turned around. I’ve worked hard. We had to do some changes and we had to put a lot of hours into it, and sometimes when you’re doing it all and you’re shooting 78 in The Open first round, you just think, what’s the point.”
This is Fleetwood’s first visit to Fanling – and he’s proving a fast learner.
“The minute you try and just push that little bit too hard around here, I think that’s when you get caught out,” he said.
“You don’t have that many long irons, and you have mid to short irons in and from there you can give yourself chances. But you have to be in the fairway.”
With none of the leading contenders able to kick clear on Saturday – and having at one stage of the day tasted a share of the lead with Brazel himself – Fleetwood believes a win is within reach.
“Golf-wise it would be great to start the year and finish the year, if you like, with a win,” said Fleetwood of an event that is by a quirk of fate the first on the 2017 European Tour and the last on the 2016 Asian Tour.