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October 31, 2017

Tommy Fleetwood

Antalya, Turkey

BRIONY CARLYON: Delighted to be joined by The Race to Dubai leader for the moment, Tommy Fleetwood.

Fantastic to have you here at the Turkish Airlines Open. Give us a sense just of how excited you are for the next three Rolex Series, and particularly being here in Turkey this week.

TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, it's always been a great finish to the year, The Final Series, great events. I think, you know, besides the position I'm in; first and foremost at the start of the year, you want to make sure you're in these. It's great to be here at the end off the year. It's great to keep your card and be in them. It's a good achievement in itself to get here. I think it's great that these are Rolex Series events now. I think they deserve it.

And yeah, Turkey, I think I've been here, this is either the fourth or fifth time now. Different course, second time on this course, but it's always such an enjoyable week for everybody. Hotels are amazing. Courses have always been brilliant. You won't find many people that complain this week.

BRIONY CARLYON: Last week, the WGC, not bad form for yourself. Give us a since of your game at the moment.

TOMMY FLEETWOOD: I played pretty good. The course was a little bit different. I missed out last year and I played the three before. I just don't remember it being bermudagrass. I think that course, there's low scores out there, but you have to play well to to it, and if you hit it off-line, then it makes it very tough. So you always see like a big gap in that event of low scores and then some high ones.

But I felt good. I felt like there was a lot of good stuff in there. For a couple of days I wasn't really sharp enough on the greens. So I kind of played well and didn't quite score. So obviously put a bit more work into that this week, and then the last couple of days, I didn't play as good but scored all right, and the last day was tough.

Again, you have to keep things in perspective. It's 20th-place finish with the best fields in the world, so you know you must have been doing quite a few things right to finish there. And, I was, what, two shots, maybe three shots away from a Top-10, which fine margins for being a very good week.

Q. It feels like we're talking about The Race to Dubai all season. What's your feeling like coming into the last three events?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, I mean, I'm not going to lie. Last week wasn't the ideal result, but I didn't actually do any harm. I think I moved ahead again last week.

It's difficult. It's not something I've ever done before, so I don't know what you're supposed to do. It's easy to look at leaderboards or look at where you are at the end of a week.

But all you can do is play your golf and try and improve. I've said it for a few weeks; as the tournaments start winding down, again, just friends, family, people and players in the players' lounge, they say, oh, you know, good luck, you're still ahead or keep it going. So everybody wants to talk about it because it's massive, it's the Race to Dubai, isn't it. It's one of the biggest things you can achieve in your career effectively.

But all you can do is what you can do that week. The ultimate goal every week is to win. And I do want to win another tournament before the year is out, and there's only three left, but I would love to get into contention. It's what you want to be doing. It's how you want to feel and that's why you want to play.

As much as you look, I'm still sort of quite grounded, quite focused on what I'm doing. Trying to improve each week. I felt pretty fresh, so I've enjoyed playing and practising, actually. Obviously time is much more precious these days when I get away, so I put in a bit more practise in now.

Q. There's always some pressure involved in the next three tournaments. Is it as much or similar to what you might have placed before playing in The Open in your hometown, the pressure that there is there on you?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: I think they are all -- I mean, they are pressure but they are good pressure. They are good things.

I played years ago, able to finish Top-10 to keep my card; I would much rather be doing this than that, but they have all got pressure. If you had said at the start of the year, you know, you're going to be doing press conferences at The Open as one of the favourites to win it, and you're going to be in Turkey leading The Race to Dubai and people asking you how you're feeling, I would have said, all right, yeah.

Yeah, I mean, it is pressure, but it's a completely different kind of pressure -- I'm enjoying it. When I talk about it now, actually, don't think about it that often. Every now and again when I'm playing, it's hard not to and obviously people want to talk about it and you'll talk about it then. But you know, it's just another step, really, as I'm going along.

But yeah, I mean, I do want to win. I would be lying if I said I didn't and it wasn't that big a thing. But it doesn't come into your head that often.

Q. What was the thinking going to Sun City? You mentioned you feel quite fresh but it is a lot of travel these last four weeks and of the contenders, I think you're the only one who is going to play all four?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Good. Well, yeah, it's tricky. I think a couple of things have gone into it. I had a long stretch off in the middle in the summer. I had more important things going on at the time.

It's still hard -- you know, found it hard in the middle of the year to miss The Scottish Open planning the schedule. It's not something that I've -- scheduling isn't something that I've actually massively had to do before. You know, when would I have ever missed a Rolex Series event, The Scottish Open? It's just not something I've ever done. I might have to change that way of thinking and find -- like I am doing now.

But the last four events, big events, and I've got a chance of winning The Race to Dubai. Can you imagine if I had a week off and then lost by 20 grand? I can't let that happen, really.

So if I don't win it now; if somebody like Justin or Sergio was to win an event, I can't do anything about that. But if I had left it out of my control a little bit that way, then yeah, I'd have been quite unhappy with myself.

Q. When you look back on your season, and a great season it's been, has there been one sort of spark that's set the season for you?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: No, it's been a funny one, actually. Because a lot of it just seemed to happen. The win in Abu Dhabi was a really big thing for me after where I was sort of the year before, putting other things into place, getting sort of a lot of people that I've worked with before; and then it was sort of a completion of sort of all the hard work we put into it.

I just happened to have results, like México, U.S. Open, those results just seemed to happen in like the flow of things, really. And then yeah, when I won again, I kind of -- I was very confident. I was playing great.

And I remember on that Sunday, I actually expected to win. Don't come around that often. But when you're in that sort of mode that it comes along -- but I think a lot of results just kind of happen as you were going along and I was just going along, practising work, getting better.

I was playing massive events, majors and WGCs and I just happened to have these great results and play great without even thinking or worrying about it and that's how the year kind of progressed and eventually you find yourself here. When I do sit down and think about it, which I've done, talk about the year and see how it's gone, it was really good.

There will be reasons why I must have played or reasons why but at the time, I was just going along with my own business.

Q. As long as we're reminiscing now, when you won the French, was there a particular shot or defining moment that you look back on as what got you across the finish line?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: I think the front nine on Saturday -- there's not one particular shot but the front nine on Saturday, I played awful and I think I was level par through nine. Made a rubbish bogey on nine. But I got through nine holes level par.

Then played okay back nine. I think I hit 6-iron on 16 in that third round to about 5-foot and knocked it in for a two. I don't think I missed a shot from there on in in that last round. When I said I expected to win -- an 8-iron, I nearly holed on the first. And then God knows how -- I still -- think in two, but those two shots, I just didn't think I was going to lose that tournament.

Like I say, you really don't feel like that very often but I played two holes on the Sunday and I thought, there's no way I can lose. I don't know how or why, but I felt very confident with my game.

Q. From the Tommy Fleetwood Fan Page: They want to know how big a difference does it make to you having Finn on the bag?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, it's been amazing to spend my time with one of my best mates. He knows me very well. He's motivated by wanting us to do better, really, and I think -- we might joke around and everything, like giving each other a bit of stick, but he has been brilliant for me.

Yeah, I wouldn't have wanted to do it with anyone else, really; having some of the rounds on Sundays that we've had this year. And we do have a good chemistry and we do have a good time. If we need to work hard, we both work hard. We have a good sort of knowledge to each other when it's time to smile and relax or when it's time to work, and he has been great.

Q. And you've been putting well this year using the pencil grip. When did you first go to it, and did you know it was an improvement right away?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: So not last Christmas, the Christmas before, what year was that? 2015? Winter of 2015, yeah, so I putted normal before, but I always struggled with like the rotation of my stroke, like the actual face. It was quite inconsistent.

So we tried a few different grips and when I went to that grip, it made a massive difference instantly. I just found a lot more consistency with my start line on that grip. So I've had it for a while. First half of 2016, I actually putted great but I couldn't keep it on the golf course. This year, I've had a lot more pressurised situations where I've had to putt well.

But yeah, it's made a big difference to me. I do have a very good putting coach, as well. It's always that part of the game that I have to work a bit harder on. It's not the part that comes more naturally to me. But yeah, it's helped a lot.

Q. And lastly, you've trimmed your beard. Are there any plans to trim more?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: No, I actually had to shave it off. It was really nice in Italy because I had it cut a little bit at that bashers and they put some oil in it and it was really soft and nice. Then when I got home I was waking up at 3.00 in the morning with the baby, it was everywhere. It was too nasty. I couldn't kiss the baby or anything like that. I had to get rid of it. I took one for the team there.

Q. On that subject, are they coming any of the weeks?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, they are here now. They go home tomorrow night so it just a short trip. Yeah, I was desperate to see him. It's hard; I'm sure FaceTime and pictures make it worse. FaceTime at home everything and I look at him and I can't touch him.

But yeah, it's been great to have them even two or three days. It's like a nice little hit of having him. Yeah, it's been brilliant having them around and hopefully they can come back to Dubai, or Clare and Frankie definitely are. Then I'll see after that. But it's nice to have them out because it is difficult; now I've got a baby and everything, I understand what people go through a little bit more.

Q. Has he got a passport?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, he's got a great little passport. Passport photo for a baby is not easy.

Q. I was going to ask, I know Justin is still a long way behind in points, but what were your thoughts when you finished before the leaders on Sunday, thinking like everyone else that Dustin Johnson is going to walk away with it?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: In terms of really wanting to win The Race to Dubai or get close, it wasn't the ideal result. But I was really, really happy for Dustin to win it.

Q. Really?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: No, I was genuinely happy for him. I like him. He's one of the people that's been nice to me, in particular this year, when I started playing them events a bit more, just hanging around with him and playing with him a bit more. He's been great. So I was really happy for him.

And I mean, I still am further in front from The Race to Dubai. Just means that he's now a win away from overtaking me or catching me. But I'm a win away from, you know, putting it pretty much out of reach. So you can look at it both ways.

You know, it's hard not to look at what they are doing but if I just concentrate on my stuff -- you know, this week, you've got 72 holes, as well, like guaranteed.

So it's always so easy at the end -- towards the end of this year. If you don't start very well, it's easy to, it's the end of the year. Everybody's been tired, get a bit moody, you let like four or five shots slip and you have 72 holes which is a long time.

Again, that goes both way. You can be 6-under through six but you still have 72 holes, which is the same as every week but if you don't quite get off to that good start, you know that you have got time to make up. It's really important now in the situation that I'm in, every shot is going to count. You never know what that end game is going to be. You don't know what might make the difference.

So it's shot by shot or hole-by-hole, which is the obvious stuff. But he is one way away and I'm one win away of going further ahead, so both ways.

BRIONY CARLYON: Thank you very much, Tommy. All the best.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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