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November 19, 2017

Tommy Fleetwood

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

MICHAEL GIBBONS: Tommy, many congratulations. I think everyone in here feels so happy for you. Give us, just try and sum up your emotions and how that day ranks in terms of your golfing career.

TOMMY FLEETWOOD: It's the biggest day of my career for sure. The emotions were difficult on me because even -- I don't trust computers, so even when everything had finished, it was so difficult to get up or down. Then I felt for Justin a lot, you know, because I seen him when he come in. I think how gracious he was shows a lot about his character.

Yeah, it's not sunk in yet. It's just such a -- the whole week, I had never done anything like this before, and it was actually quite an up-and-down week.

First day was poor and then the next to days were -- well, even the third day was up-and-down. And then today, obviously didn't perform how I wanted to but it just shows golf can be such a cruel or difficult game sometimes.

I've just shot 14-under for two days and then couldn't get anything going at all. Justin had played unbelievable for 3 1/2 days and then that back nine; it just shows that -- it's an experience for me; everybody watching what's going on, it was completely out of my hands after 12 or 13 holes.

It's a massive learning curve seeing that still anything can happen, but yeah, it's still definitely not sunk in.

Q. What is the emotion of winning a season-long thing like The Race to Dubai versus one-off tournaments? How would you explain that to people?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: It turns out, it's quite a strange one because you kind of -- you're always looking week-in, week-out. Just that's the nature of what we do. So you literally concentrate one week at time a time.

When you're done with that week, you have a look at what was good, what was bad, and you move on to the next week, which is Monday.

This week I finished 21 and I had a bad Sunday. Then you know, you've won The Race to Dubai. It's like a really weird scenario. And like I say, it's still not sunk in but the actual -- we've been saying it for a while.

The achievement of winning a year-long accomplishment is massive and it holds a lot of respect amongst your peers and the players. It shows sort of the level of consistency and the amount I've improved as a player and as a person.

Yeah, it's different for sure. It's just I'm still trying to work it out to be honest.

Q. Were all these permutations roaming around in your head? Did that affect your performance at all?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: No. Especially when I was teeing it up today, I was trying to win this week, and I felt like I could, I was playing well. It just didn't turn out that way.

It got difficult, like I say, when I was struggling and I was kind of out of the tournament a little bit and Justin was at the top of the leaderboard. Then it became harder not to concentrate on not -- just to concentrate on what I was doing, and it became hard to not look at what he was doing and figuring things out.

But no, it's interesting, actually. Now I've done it, I was really good all week and stayed in the moment and you know, playing my game, going day-by-day, hole-by-hole, I was actually very good at it. It's not an easy thing to do. But brilliant being part of that whole scenario and seeing how you handle it.

Q. You didn't at any time think: Well, Justin's running away with this; I'm out of it.
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: No. Like I say, I was proud of how I come back after Thursday, which was a really poor day. For the next two days, I actually kept control somewhat in my hands.

I couldn't worry about what Justin was doing, and then the last five holes became trickier simply because I was struggling and out of it and he was at the top, and then, you know, you start thinking, is it done or, you know, honestly, I was thinking I've lost it here.

Then it was difficult finishing. Sat on the couch in the scoring, just watching TV, not being able to do anything. Can't do anything at all. You just have to watch how it unfolds.

Q. Justin was a similar age when he won the Order of Merit for the first time and we see what he's gone on to achieve. Do you see it as a springboard to majors and Ryder Cups and Olympic Gold?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: I hope so. That would be a nice career.

I have nothing but respect for him and what he's done in his career. He's got one of the best careers going and he's got a hell of a mantelpiece, I'm sure. It's been great.

I would have preferred it to have been easier, but at the same time, it's been absolutely brilliant going head-to-head and a bit of a dogfight with, in my eyes, one of the greatest players in recent times.

I was kind of a bit disappointed in how it worked out, but like I say, I have masses of respect for him. He's had a great career, and hopefully for me, you know, this is -- again, this is something that I'll always have.

I'll always have 2017 Race to Dubai No. 1. It's a very big thing to achieve. Yeah, I'm hoping, obviously after I sit down this year with everyone, we'll talk about what we do going forward. But yeah, the big events, they will always be on our minds and stuff. I want to win -- wherever you play, I want to win, but yeah, there's a lot around majors. I'd love to have a couple by the time I'm done.

Q. What is the one thing above all others that you think won this for you? What do you think you did better than you did throughout the year?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Well, by the looks of it, I think last week won it for me. You know, obviously I had a very good level of consistency this year. Even these last few events, the last four, five, six events, when I come back after having the baby, I didn't do anything -- I didn't do anything special, really, but I had a couple of Top-10s. I was never outside the Top-25, and that is your job as a professional golfer, as a tour player. If you can always be ticking away, it's good golf to finish top 20, top 30 these days with the amount of players there is. When your good golf comes, you have to make the most of it, which I did a lot of the time.

Some of my best golf, sometimes it doesn't always happen when you're on form. You don't quite get the performances you want, but I won twice, I think finished second twice and one of them was a WGC and the U.S. Open when I was on good form, finished fourth.

I performed and had the big finishes when I was playing well, and when I wasn't, I missed some cuts but not many. But I was always making headway, it felt, most of the time.

Q. What did Justin say to you when he came in the scorer's?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Not a lot. He was really nice. He just said congratulations. It was such a hard thing to do. It was a tough scenario. I didn't really -- I didn't feel like I could take any credit for what I had just achieved.

You know, because we are good friends and everything, and it's just the nature of the game; somebody wins, somebody loses, and it was a difficult -- it was just a difficult sort of situation.

He was so good. He just said, "Congratulations." He said, "Well deserved." Fooch said, "You deserved it all year." They were really nice about it and it was just a nice sort of moment.

Q. If somebody told you 15 months ago, whenever it was, what would you have said --
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Turnaround, yeah. Thommo was there at the end, my coach. We've said it a couple of times this year when I've either won or he was at the U.S. Open all week when we were trying to win that.

Wentworth has always been -- Wentworth 2016 has always been the like benchmark that I've always looked at in that I genuinely -- even Finno was there, come to watch on Thursday. Turned up the morning, and I genuinely wanted to pull out because I didn't think I could get it off the first tee. I was embarrassed how I was hitting it. In all honesty I was scared of what I was going to do.

So that has always been like a benchmark to see where I've been and where I've come from because that was sort of my lowest moment. However long it's been, 18 months, 17 months down the line, I've won a Race to Dubai.

It's like, you know, I can't give the people around me enough credit. I know I am out there hitting the shots but there's a lot of work goes into it that people don't see. Just grateful for everyone around me, really.

Q. You said it hadn't sunk in yet, but when it does, will you look at the list and you'll see two people in the world's top six and the current Masters Champion and think, it's even better than I thought?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, probably, yeah. I think it doesn't sink in -- Sergio won the Masters. Sergio won three times this year and Justin won back-to-back recently. Jon Rahm won two Rolex Series Events, and I was the one that was at the head of it all.

I think, yeah, it's been, right now -- I just think in general, because you never actually look back that often. I think it's been a better year than what you actually think it is. But yeah, there's been some amazing achievements by other people this year and I'm the won that's stood there at the end.

Q. Starting the season in Abu Dhabi with a win, finishing over here in Dubai, are you planning to buy an apartment or something over here?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Can't afford them (laughter).

MICHAEL GIBBONS: You can now. (Laughter).

TOMMY FLEETWOOD: I don't know. I'm not sure, actually. We do enjoy coming here. It's a great place to start the year off. Everybody loves Abu Dhabi and Dubai. This was always -- I think the only two people that are missing from the Top 60 were Rory and Henrik, who were injured, which shows the magnitude at the end of it.

You have the Top 60 players basically playing, which is always a good showing of the tournament and the golf course and people coming. I'm not looking at buying any properties just yet, and I have a fianceé to pass it by, so we would have to talk about it.

Q. Winning up front in Abu Dhabi at the start of the season, quite a few players who have won early in the season, especially when they have not won in the last few years, it just gets -- quite a few examples even from Abu Dhabi who have not had the kind of season that way after they have won. What did you say to yourself after that win? How did you keep going, and just tell us a few weeks after that.
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Well, I'm quite a determined person and I have a lot of goals in my career and in my game. Abu Dhabi was more -- it was a goal to win but it wasn't like the be-all and end-all. It wasn't like I had achieved what I wanted to achieve.

I won, but that was more a point where my game was back to where I wanted it because we put a lot of work in, like I said, come from sort of the lowest point in my playing career, all the way to that to where we knew I was right where I wanted to be. I won. I hadn't won in three years. But it was more, I had won and I proved that I was back where my game should be, and I knew that I could win.

So I wanted to win again and I was very confident that I could. It's just a case of that good golf happening again. You don't know when you're going to hit form again. And in México, when I nearly won again -- you know, one win is no time to relax or step off.

I see why it happens, because it's such a high, winning, and it's a skill to have to be able to not get too ahead of yourself or stay at a certain level because it is a massive come-down. You know, you've won a tournament, and you get to Monday and nobody actually cares. I was practising and playing, and they all say "well done" and they are happy for you, but they are on to their own game. You have to stay level because there's another week where there's another 155 guys that want to be here. But no, the win was great, but that wasn't it for me.

Q. Jon Rahm was in earlier on and congratulated you and Justin. He said, "We knew how good Justin was," and he said, "I think we're about to see how good Tommy Fleetwood can be." How good can you be?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Very, I hope. My ultimate goal in life is to be the best player in the world. That will always be the same. Whether I achieve it or not is another thing, but I'll always strive for that.

I think this year has been a big year in terms of my career. You know, some of the performances, I have put myself on the world stage a bit more.

Yeah, when we sit down, when we sit down after this year, we'll make sure that the goals get high and lofty and that I push myself to achieve more.

I've got a lot of experience in me after the last two, three years. I know that you can go down the wrong path very easily and I think I've got people around me and myself included that know how to stay on the right path hopefully.

And yeah, I'll always have high expectations but we'll see where we can go. Like I said, the ultimate goal, and I think everybody in the profession should have that goal, is to try to be No. 1 in the world.

Q. How do you balance that goal against playing in America? Obviously the PGA TOUR -- this gives you a lot of freedom.
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: How do I balance the goals and then play the PGA TOUR? Yeah, so the PGA TOUR, for me, I obviously want to play a bit more over there next year; but for a number of things, I think it is a different style of golf for starters, and there is a lot of the best players in the world that play over there. The majors, the majority of majors are over there. The WGCs are there.

I think it makes you a better player trying to play over there. I mean, I might struggle -- it is a new learning curve because, I mean, this year, I kind of had a couple of events in 2015 and then this year's been the first year where I've gone over there a bit more. I massively enjoyed it.

I enjoyed going to work there. I enjoyed sort of learning again some different grasses, some different style of play, and I do genuinely think it makes you better wherever you go. People come over to The European Tour, I think it makes them better. It makes you a more rounded player.

I'm looking forward to it. I'm really looking forward to it. It's all part of the process in my life or my career. It's just however it goes, and like I said, it's all part of a learning curve and a steppingstone. Your career is a long career, and no, it's going to be great. It's nice to have a chance to do it. I thoroughly enjoyed it this year and I will next year.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: Tommy, many congratulations once again.

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