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November 15, 2017

Tommy Fleetwood

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

MICHAEL GIBBONS: Tommy, welcome to the DP World Tour Championship.


MICHAEL GIBBONS: Big week for you. Discuss.


MICHAEL GIBBONS: Go. Give us your thoughts on being here this week. Obviously it's been a monumental season already, but what would it mean to you to get over the line.

TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, it has been, I don't want to say like a breakout year, because you don't know what happens after it, but it's been the biggest year of my career by a long way. You know, I think the goal at the start of the year was to win again. I hadn't won in three years, whatever it was. Did that very early on. And it's been like a year of sort of felt like I was reassessing for the first six months because I was on a roll and I just kept having brilliant results.

It's very special to get to The Race to Dubai, you know, the final event, and be playing to win The Race to Dubai. Something I've never been done before. I've never been close, and it's something that I didn't expect to be doing this year.

Yeah, it brilliant and there's a list of very, very great players that have won The Race to Dubai. If it's my turn, then that's amazing. That's brilliant.

I mean, whatever happens, I've never done this before, and it will have been a brilliant experience no matter what. I obviously clearly want to win. Don't know how many chances you're going to get in your career to do it.

I'd love to add my name to that list. It will be a perfect way to end a year that's been amazing for me. Yeah, it would mean a lot. There's no denying it or getting away from it. There's no saying, I just want to play my own game and not think about it. I think that's just pretty much impossible.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: One shot at a time.

TOMMY FLEETWOOD: One shot at a time. Two steps forward. (Laughter). It's something that I'm massively massively looking to four days, trying to win The Race to Dubai. It's brilliant.

Q. Seems like it's been all you've we've been talking about. Can you remember the first time either we asked you about winning The Race to Dubai or you first thought it was a real possibility?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: I think after I had won, and then I finished second in México, I think I had a mini-goal at the time of -- because like at that point of the year, I exceed my expectations. Already it had been amazing.

Then I had a mini-goal of when I got to Wentworth, I wanted to be -- I think might have been before that. I remember having a mini-goal thinking I wanted to be leading The Race to Dubai when I got to Wentworth. Sergio cocked that one up for me.

But there were certain things going on throughout the year. I remember seeing a Tweet somewhere, and somebody laughed at the thought of me winning The Race to Dubai, so that motivated me a bit more.

But I mean, middle of the year, it kind of turned up as all of a sudden it was kind of a potential goal. When I won France, I think that's when, you know, like that was it then. Now this is actually a real thing; I could possibly win The Race to Dubai. So I started thinking about it then.

Yeah, been talking about it ever since.

Q. Quick question on last week. Were you pleased in the end to finish 10th after sort of a so-so start?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, I've had a lot of rounds sort of recently where I've struggled to get momentum, not really played great but not played bad. I think it's easy to see, people around you like Justin or Sergio; Sergio won in Valderrama and Justin wins the next to. It's easy to look at people around you winning events, big events and thinking you're not doing enough, kind of thing.

To be honest, I've had pretty decent results. It's been like a very steady run of results. I've not had great first rounds, so it's been tough to get momentum going that way. But I felt like I played well.

That Sunday last week, I was actually -- when I couldn't win and I had a couple sort of bad breaks on the back nine, I wanted to get in the Top-10. I wanted to rack up my Top-10 list a little bit. So it was great to actually get another Top-10; great to move that little bit forward.

Yeah, it was really good to get a pretty good result. And you have to keep perspective on what are good results, really. Any time you're around the top 20, top 30 at this stage, the way that -- how good the competition is, that's very good golf, very good results. So you just always have to keep that in perspective, really.

Q. I know Justin's not going to whack you with a 4-iron, but is there something almost intimidating about him when he's playing the sort of the golf he's produced in the last few weeks when you stand on the first tee together?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: No (laughter) I think Justin, for me, has done a lot of things in his career that I would like to do. I mean, fair play for his golf recently. To win back-to-back, and those events, as well, is brilliant.

No, it's not -- I mean, the whole thing, it's not like intimidating or it's not even -- it's not stressful in any way. It's like, I mean, it's obviously -- not sure nervous is the right word, but it's like the good kind of nerves where you're trying to win The Race to Dubai. It's not by no means a burden or any stressful.

It's actually an amazing opportunity and it's a massive privilege to be able to actually be playing. You know, I'm turning up tomorrow, final event of the year and I'm playing with Justin Rose trying to win a Race to Dubai. Sergio could win it, as well. Sergio, Justin Rose and then me; that's pretty cool, that.

So yeah, I'm really looking forward to it. I think it's brilliant for -- it's brilliant for myself. I think it's brilliant for people that have been around sort of as a team this year. I think it will be great for my Mum and Dad, trying to win a Race to Dubai, being around them people that we've watched play majors and big events and play Ryder Cups throughout the year. They have essentially done things that I want to do, and this is like my -- one of my first sort of times, experience, in trying to win one of the biggest titles in the world with the best players in the world. Yeah, I'm very excited about it.

Q. Do you remember who it was that sent that Tweet that laughed at the prospect of you winning?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: I think I remember, somebody had -- I actually think Phil Kenyon -- no, somebody had put, who do you think will win The Race to Dubai and I think Phil Kenyon said -- I wasn't included and Phil Kenyon said, "What about the current leader," and somebody laughed. You see things all the time, don't you, on social media. To be fair it might not have been wrong at the time.

Yeah, little things like that always motivate you a little bit. But no, I don't remember who it was or what it was.

Q. You say you're not intimidated and you don't seem intimidated, but is there a balance between playing the golf course and the tournament and keeping your eye on Justin and playing against Justin?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: There's absolutely no way to avoid it. I think I'm clearly going to see what he's doing. I mean, I'm not going to lie; I would prefer him not to do well (laughter) but it's just another test of, you know, just another experience. Whatever happens, I'll have massively learnt from this.

I know there's no way to avoid sort of looking at what he's doing. I would be such a liar if I said I'm not even going to watch him one shot, I'm going to concentrate on what I'm doing, because you just can't do it. There's no avoiding it.

Just another test, another experience, and it's something that's going to make me a better golfer at the end of it whether I do well or not. Yeah, I'm not wishing bad on him but, you know, have a decent week, but not an amazing week.

Q. If you were a betting man, would you put your money on Tommy and his lead, or Justin Rose and his experience?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Which are the higher odds? I'll probably go on them (laughter). I would put my money on me. Every day, yeah.

Q. Justin was here before you, and he said that you guys have been in touch almost constantly on a week-to-week basis. Have you tried to seek out something from him or any other player this year, which is really helped you? Has there been some sage-like advice for you which has helped you become better, from Justin or anyone?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, I think it's been great to be around these kind of players again. I think there's a lot of things have made me a better player this year.

I think being able to go over to America, play different courses, play the majors again, WGCs are the toughest tests in world golf, so they have helped for starters, and Justin, you know, he's definitely somebody that I would -- well, I do, I like hanging around with him. I have masses of respect for him as a golfer and as a person. You can't help but learn off people like that. If you don't take them opportunities to ask these guys questions or just see them and how they do things and take away from it what you will, it makes you better. I'm still -- I'm actually not that young anymore, but you know, Justin, people like him, they have a lot of experience. They have done everything you can do in the game pretty much, and those are the kind of people that you should look up to and look at what they do, because there's a reason that they have been so successful.

You have to figure out what it is they have done, or just watch what they do. Because if you want to do the kind of things that they have done: He's won majors, he's won WGCs, he's played in Ryder Cups, he's won a Gold Medal. He's got quite a good resumé.

So things like that. Pleasure to hang out with him as it is because he's a lovely guy, and as the same time, he's done a lot in the game and it's good to sort of pick things up and learn from him.

Q. Growing up when, I guess, winning The Open would have been the No. 1 dream, where would winning an Order of Merit have fallen on the scale of wishful filled?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Very, very high up. Yeah, very high up. It's funny, because you do look at individual events like the majors. They are the ones that everybody wants to win.

I think it is a bit harsh that a lot of people's careers are defined by four events, and the end of the day, anybody can have a hot week with the putter and win.

Over the course of a year, it's a lot more difficult and I think it does hold a lot of respect with your peers, you know, having that consistency throughout a year.

As you go from week-to-week, you sometimes forget like how good the year's been. You actually get here, and you're talking about it or you see the results of the last few weeks and people, you know, winning the biggest events, and then they still -- you're actually still in front; you realise what a good year you've had. I think Race to Dubai, it's up there with -- that and FedExCup, like Order of Merits, that kind of thing that last for a year, they are way up there. There's majors and them that are, you know, great things to have on your mantelpiece.

Like I said before, the list of players that have won it, is great. I'm either going to join that list or the list of great players is going to carry on with one of the other two. I want it to be me.

Q. You talked about your respect for Justin and his achievements. What do you admire most about his game?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: I think his consistency for a long time. I think his attitude is very good. I think his work ethic's good. I think he has such a good all-around game that -- I mean, I don't know how much people talk about his game, really.

But from playing with him, spending time with him, his sort of all-around game, his long game to his short game, the way he gets the ball around the course, his attitude and his patience; you know, he has like a very good set of attributes, and he's done it -- I think I probably admire the most how well he's done it under pressure; two shots he hit at the U.S. Open to win; the way he come down the stretch more recently in China, or the birdie on the last in Turkey. Yeah, the way he plays under pressure, keeps that game and hits the shots at the right time, yeah, I think I probably admire that the most.

Q. What's the most important thing you've learned this year?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: I think it would have to be that my game can stand up with the best players in the world in the biggest tournaments. Tournaments like México or U.S. Open; I think the Saturday at the U.S. Open was up there with one of the biggest and best rounds of my life.

You know, that day in particular, I played better than anybody on that golf course on how I did, and that was the Saturday of the U.S. Open, one of the biggest events in the world with the best players. So experiences like that just prove to yourself more than anything, even if you think you can or you say you can, you have to do it still.

I didn't win. Finished fourth. I got to watch the winner play. But just results like that and performances like that just prove to yourself that you can; when you play your good golf and when you're in form, you know that you can -- you know, there's certain stages. There's winning a European Tour event or there's winning a Challenge Tour event. Winning a European Tour event, you keep going up in events, and you get to the majors; and the fact that I -- just that one event in particular, some of the WGCs, whichever way you look at it, I've proved to myself this year, I know how I feel when I'm up there, and I know I can perform.

So hopefully those times will come again, and I know in the back of my mind, I know I can handle it.

Q. What do you think's been the biggest key to do so well this year compared to the previous couple years?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Played better.

Yeah, I think my game has been in a better place than it's ever been. Done a lot of good work. I've had a lot of better people around me: My coach, I had Thommo back the last year and a half. Finno has been great on the bag.

I've had a lot more confidence. I've worked hard. I've always worked hard, but a lot of the times, you don't get out of it what you put into it a lot of times because it's so easy to start spiraling down the wrong path, which I did. Done a lot of good work on the right things. I've played well and I've really enjoyed it again. You know, the game has been very enjoyable this year.

Q. And would it be pretty cool to tell your son one day that you won The Race to Dubai on the same year that he was born?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, I don't know how much he'll care. He definitely won't care this week, no matter what I do (laughter).

Yeah, it's something that I would love to do. They're here. So it would be nice. It would be nice to walk off 18 and I'd have done it in the year he was born. I think 2017, if I can finish it off this week, 2017 will take some beating I guess.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: And that's a perfect way to end. Tommy, good luck this week. Thanks for joining us.

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