Tommy Fleetwood was an unfamiliar name amongst the top of the leaderboard at the 2017 US Open. Sitting in fourth place until the final round, it was the beginning of the 27-year-old's journey to finally claim the European Tour's Race to Dubai crown by defeating Justin Rose. The son of a Southport lorry driver overcame his dramatic career slump to revel in a glorious 2017.
This year, Fleetwood proved he can sustain his game, winning the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for a second year running and setting out on his way to the top of the European Tour Order of Merit. Here’s the story of the current world No. 10 who is not nearly aware enough of his talents, but shows his brilliance among the very best players in the world.
How was Fleetwood’s amateur career?
He had a stellar amateur career including being selected for the 2009 Walker Cup team, two victories at the 2009 Scottish Amateur Stroke Play Championship and the 2010 English Amateur, and four runner-up finishes in the 2008 Amateur Championship, the 2010 New South Wales Amateur, the 2010 Spanish Amateur, and the 2010 European Amateur. Fleetwood also reached number one on the Scratch Players World Amateur Rankings. In July 2010, Fleetwood finished as runner-up to Daniel Gaunt in the English Challenge on Europe's second tier Challenge Tour. Shortly after winning the English Amateur in August 2010, he turned professional.
What does Fleetwood’s professional career look like so far?
Early in his professional career, Fleetwood was still searching for a way to realize his potential. A year after turning pro he claimed his first Challenge Tour win at the Kazakhstan Open 2011, which secured his place on the European Tour for 2012. In his first season on the European Tour, Fleetwood had a mediocre start. He secured his card after finishing in top ten of the South African Open which was his last tournament of the season. His maiden European Tour title came at the Johnnie Walker Championship in August 2013.
Fleetwood went through a rough patch in 2016. From his highest position of 47th in the Official World Golf Rankings in July 2015, he tumbled all the way to 188th just 14 months later. How did he deal with that?
Fleetwood returned to his former swing coach, Alan Thompson, who first started coaching the Southport player when he was 13, and employed his childhood best friend, Ian Finnis, as his caddy. A victory at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, his second European Tour victory three-and-a-half years after his maiden triumph at the 2013 Johnnie Walker Championship, in January 2017 was the result of the changes. His ranking had been continually climbing over the six months prior to the title in Abu Dhabi.
What are Fleetwood’s goals for the future?
He wants to win majors and play in multiple Ryder Cups. “I wanted to be at the last two Ryder Cups but didn’t come close,” said Fleetwood, as quoted by the Guardian. “As soon as I got to the level where I was one good year away from playing in a Ryder Cup, I wanted to do it. I’m starting off now with a much bigger building block in place. I had a massively consistent year and won twice. I want to win a lot more, wherever those tournaments are; winning is a habit I want to keep up. I didn’t win in Hong Kong straight after Dubai and was annoyed by it. Majors would be a nice natural progression. In my career, I want to win multiple major championships.”
Aside from golf, what does Fleetwood like?
His favorite mag is GQ. He loves to read its features and fashion tips. He also likes eating good, healthy food, and listening to a lot of music, everything from oldies and Motown to latest hits. “I have even been told by someone that they heard me singing in the shower from the hotel room next door! I’ve lowered my singing voice since then,” Fleetwood comments on his personal website.
He also watches lots of other sports, including football, rugby, and darts. “I always follow my team, Everton,” added Fleetwood.
➢ His father, Pete Fleetwood, is the person who fostered Tommy’s talent. Speaking on BBC Radio, Pete said, “I cut him a club down. He hit a couple of shots and I thought, ‘he’s going to be a good golfer.’”
➢ Throughout his junior career, Pete would carry his son’s clubs and dispense advice. There was one occasion at Clitheroe where caddies were not allowed. Fleetwood cried all the way round as he struggled with a comparatively massive trolley. “He shot 132,” recalled Pete. “Although to this day, he contends it was 131!”
➢ “He’s always been flamboyant, like my Grandma – we come from a pretty eccentric family,” said Tommy’s mother, Sue.