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HNA OPEN DE FRANCE


June 27, 2018


Tommy Fleetwood


Paris, France

THE MODERATOR: Mr. Fleetwood, welcome back.

TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Thank you.

Q. Always nice to come back as a defending champion. Give us your thoughts on the week ahead. I know you must be tired and busy.
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: It's been busy, yeah, for sure. No, my energy levels are definitely better than last week. Last week was a bit of a struggle in the end, but it's nice -- as nice as it is to come back and have such good memories and you can look back at great rounds that you had and finished with a win. The course seems so different. It's so set up now for the Ryder Cup in September. So a lot of the shots look a lot different. But still, coming back and remembering what you did on like a Sunday or whatever day you pick, it's always nice just to play, even in your practice round and just remember those shots that you hit, which is always good.

Q. Golf course more intimidating looking?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: It's just a couple of shots, like one, the first tee shot just seems so -- after playing it for so many years and then it being different, a little bit more up on the right, it's like difficult to get your bearings a little bit. But I think it's easy to start looking at the course and thinking how many people will be here in a few months' time. But the course is just a course. It's playing a bit firmer than last year, and probably just with it being firmer, the rough's up for very wide shots that will get you caught out. So it's just a slightly different setup than we've had in the past.

THE MODERATOR: Take some questions, please.

Q. When you come back to somewhere where you've got all your memories of a year ago and also coming in here in great form, does that make you think I could do it again?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: It should be. I'm not swinging it how I would like to at the moment. So there's like work going on there, so that kind of keeps you on your toes. The game has a way of just not making things too easy for you. So yeah, I've got a bit of practice to do, really. And it's a tough course to come to if you're not on your game. So I've just gotta keep my head down, and at the moment I've just gotta work on a couple of things, so it's not quite as free wheeling as it could be.

Q. You said you visualize what it could be like here in September. How different do you think it will play in September?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Well, we'll see. I mean I don't know whether it's -- I don't know whether it sets up this week for how it might be in September just for a few of us to get a look at it. But I'm guessing -- I'm guessing it's going to be quite firm and fast, especially if we have the good weather that we have been having. And I think the way that the rough is set out is probably a good indication it will be like that with two or three months to go. I don't think it's going to drastically change. I think that's probably a good -- you're getting a good idea of what it might be like.

Q. You play with Justin Thomas tomorrow. He's here on a reconnaissance mission. Are you going to try and put him off?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: No. I'll try and do well in the tournament rather than giving Justin Thomas the heebie-jeebies. It's great for me to be playing with one of the best players in the world. I'm a little bit surprised that there's only him here. But yeah, playing with him has no bearings on this week. I'll just try on this week and this week only for now.

Q. How many Americans did you expect to be here this week? Jon Rahm said four or five of the Yanks to be here.
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: I don't know really. I'm just surprised that Justin is the only one. Everybody has their own schedule, and I mean at the end of the day it's very difficult playing the schedule these days just with so many big tournaments either way, PGA TOUR or European Tour. And it is what it is, but I probably would have expected a couple more at least.

Q. Can you just say what is so different about the course to put it simply?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: The rough's up a little bit lighter. At the moment it's playing firmer. And it's just been I think visually -- so like one there was always a lot of shrubs down the right and it was quite green, and now it's very much open. And it just looks completely different. And there's a couple of other holes where there's been like shrubbery and trees just got rid of and when you look it's a lot more open space than what we've been used to in the past I think.

Q. That's to accommodate the 80,000 that they're expecting, isn't it?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: I guess so, yeah.

Q. Can you just talk about how much this event meant to you last summer? You took the Race to Dubai, you didn't relinquish it. Did you thereafter?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: No.

Q. Can you just talk about what this meant in terms of your career?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: It was -- I think this event last year came at a point where I was pretty much in the form of my life. And then, yeah, it kind of -- I've had a lot of good golf where I've had some great finishes and obviously I've had a great year, I've won at the start of the year. But winning the French Open, doesn't matter what year it's in or where it's at, it's one of the biggest events we play on tour, so to win one of them was massive, and just the way I did it. I was up there all week and then Sunday I kind of led the whole way and felt very confident, and yeah, put me top at the Race to Dubai again whenever I kind of lost it. So it was a pretty big week and I missed the cut five times, that five before it. So it was a big improvement.

Q. So you said your swing is not there, but it's quite similar. You had a great U. S. Open.
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah. I think just as players we just start -- you know how the game is, and sometimes it doesn't quite feel right and it can be just a tiny amount out, and you're not quite getting the shots that you want, so it doesn't quite feel the way you want it to feel. And I mean I'll hit balls in a bit, and you know, I struggled yesterday. Today I was miles, miles better this morning, and it could be miles better again tomorrow. So just sometimes it's easy to overreact because it doesn't feel great and you've been playing well. It's not far out at all. Just a little bit of practicing and it will be fine.

Q. The final four holes are quite demanding under any circumstances. What do you think it's going to be like under the ultimate pressure of a Ryder Cup coming down the stretch deciding?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, it will be -- I struggle to think of a better finish that you could have. And it will just -- I mean you've got 24 best players in the world playing it, and I think it will probably show. It is what you practice for, to play some of the toughest holes in golf in the biggest sporting event in the world. Something I'd like to do. Well, I'd probably like the matches to be over before it, but like I would still relish the challenge of playing them.

Q. Couple of Facebook questions. When will we be seeing Frank on the golf course and would you like him to be a professional?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: I think he'll have one quite soon. He's got a right grip on him. I think he'll play very young, I think, just because we've got two kids, 10 and 11, that he follows around like a hawk as it is. I think it might be a little bit early to make career choices for him. But I'd enjoy playing golf with him.

Q. And then in your honest opinion is fĂștbol coming home?
THE MODERATOR: Not talking about the World Cup, said the Scotsman.

TOMMY FLEETWOOD: I honestly think of all the years, this is gotta be our best chance for a while with some teams. There's some big teams that aren't very good, and personally the same teams always win it. So I'd probably back one of the favorites more than England, but you never know. We have been luckier than we've done before, but we are playing Panama and Tunisia, so... (laughs).

Q. Just a question regarding what you mentioned before, the changes on the course. Does this mean that you will make some changes to your strategy compared to last year when you actually won?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: I think it's playing firmer, and I think there will be -- there's definitely been like a couple of shots off the tee where there's been less club, a little bit more emphasis on trying to put it in the fairway. You know, we've played it both ways. We've played it very loose before and we've played it very firm and fast before. But with the fairways being fast, I think it's important to put it in the fairway so it will -- you can end up being a little bit more conservative off the tee. And aside from that sometimes it's just basically a little different. Again, it's one of them courses where you feel like you can attack some pins because you don't have much club in and it catches you out, so you have to be very patient. But I think off the tee it's more interest in finding the fairways, I think.

Q. Can we just talk about your caddy? Is it good to have him back?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, it's nice to see him, yeah. Me dad -- yeah, it was great having him, and he really, really enjoyed it. He resigned walking down the last hole on Friday when he thought we'd missed the cup. So then he had to put in another couple of days. But it was really nice. It's nice to have the chance to do that. I wish I'd have played a little bit better, but still, four days playing on tour, which you think about it as a kid, that was one of your dreams that you've got your dad caddying for you. So it was nice.

Q. Does it show your relationship with Ian and how it's very important?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, I mean it gives you an appreciation. I did everything myself, obviously, like yardages and picking clubs. But just, yeah, it's just nice. Nice to have him back. Very happy for him. Obviously he had bigger things in his life going on than what we did that week. But he's a very good caddy, and I'm lucky to have him, and it's, yeah, nice to appreciate having him back.

THE MODERATOR: Well done. Good luck this week.

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