Tommy Fleetwood feels more comfortable playing in the US
That was European Tour No. 1 Tommy Fleetwood’s smiling answer when asked what it had been like for the young English golfer when he first competed on the lucrative PGA Tour.
That has now all changed in the most dramatic manner for the recently-turned 27-year old Southport-born golfer.
Fleetwood is contesting his second event as a full PGA Tour and having earned $2.094m in 10 events on the 2016/17 wraparound schedule that placed him 46th on the money list.
It was just one place behind fellow Englishman Ian Poulter who contested 20 events and earned $ 2.098m
Little wonder Fleetwood, who became a father in September and then married his former manager in December, would want to take the giant step onto the world’s most lucrative golfing stage.
And after being undefeated in representing Europe in January’s EurAsia Cup in Malaysia, Fleetwood kick-started his first regular Tour event of the New Year in brilliantly denying Ross Fisher and Rory McIlroy to successfully defend his Abu Dhabi HSBC title.
Fleetwood won twice in 2017 in also capturing the French Open as well as recording two seconds, a third and five other top-10s before also denying Justin Rose to win the European Tour’s prestigious Race to Dubai title and be crowned European No. 1.
He tees-up this week joining the likes of Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth, World No. 1 Dustin Johnson and McIlroy in the $US 7.2m Genesis Open on the famed Riviera Country Club course where Hollywood greats such as Humphrey Bogart, Gregory Peck, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Elizabeth Taylor and Katherine Hepburn walked the fairways.
Current members include actors Mark Wahlberg, Adam Sandler and Dennis Quaid.
And after finishing No. 1 last year in Europe, Fleetwood was asked his goals now as a full PGA Tour member.
“I guess the next stage in my career would be to win a PGA Tour event and move up that way,” he said.
“It's great to have the opportunities to come out here and play. If you want to be -- if you want to be one of the world's best players, you have to do it in America where so far I've played a lot of good courses out here. I think the courses are great.
“The players, you're playing with the world's best players and it's definitely something I want to do more of. I'm looking forward to coming out here and playing really and testing my game on different courses and kind of a little bit of a different style of golf.
“It's just something I do want to be one of the best players in the world and this is -- this and Europe, the top-end events is where it's all at really.”
While Fleetwood is now known around the world for his 2017 achievements the current World No. 12 ranked Fleetwood joked it was not always that way when he first played in the U.S.
“Yeah, they don't torture me like they used to and like hang me up by my feet and stuff,” he said smiling broadly.
And in recognition of his lofty stature now in golf, Fleetwood will play the opening two Riviera rounds in the company of Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar, and two likely rivals later this year in Versailles.