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July 16, 2018

Tommy Fleetwood

Angus, Scotland, United Kingdom

STUART MOFFATT: I'm pleased to say we're joined by Tommy Fleetwood in the interview room. Tommy, you came so close to winning the U.S. Open last month. What would it mean to you to take that next step in your career and win The Open at Carnoustie this week?

TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, like straight after U.S. Open, literally, you want The Open to be straight away because you're on such a high. I know I didn't win, and that was disappointing coming that close and sitting and waiting. You know, you have that momentum, so I kind of wanted it to start straight away.

But I got a bit of time off, and, again, it was more proof that I could finish the 72 holes up there in -- again, that close. One shy is a quarter of a shot a round, so it's not really much at the end of the day.

This week is just another test against the best players in the world in one of the biggest events, if not the biggest event, in world golf. So looking forward to it.

Q. Hi, Tommy. You just touched on it there, you obviously went so close at the U.S. Open. Just maybe following on from that, did you feel within you that there's any reason why you can't take that next step this week and win here?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Not really, no. There's no really good reason why I couldn't do it. It really doesn't matter what's happened in the past. The only thing they do is build your confidence and give you examples of what you can do, but at the end of the day, come Thursday, it's The Open Championship, and I've got to go out there and hit the golf shots and hole the putts.

But the good thing about having results like the U.S. Open is that you -- it is proof to yourself, and it's examples that you can end up there, and you have the game to eventually compete. And hopefully, win majors. That's what it's all about.

Q. Tommy, speaking to a lot of players last week, they said that playing Carnoustie and the Dunhill Links might not necessarily be a massive advantage because it's a different course, set up for the amateurs, et cetera. Does that mean your course record is irrelevant, or does it still give you something extra going into this week?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: It is a completely different course. I played yesterday, just I've never played it this firm or fast. Shots that you've hit have literally no relevance for a lot of it. It was definitely apparent that the difficulties this week are probably going to be putting it in play and hitting it in the fairways and go from there.

The greens are still pretty receptive. You can tuck some pins away, but overall the greens are pretty flat. It's not -- it doesn't do any harm to have played it for a few years. It doesn't do any harm to have a course record, but it's a completely different challenge to what we normally face.

Q. Along those same lines, can you talk about how difficult it is on certain tee shots -- 6 comes to mind -- where you have such a small window. You have to carry it X amount, but then you have to figure out the rollout. Do you have a game plan for that hole, and maybe 17?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, the difficulty is definitely -- it kind of doesn't matter what club you hit, there's so many holes where you're going to be taking fairway bunkers on. You can't just -- the 260 is just a completely irrelevant number because any amount of clubs can go that far just with it playing that firm.

So there's certain holes where your game plan might be to hit driver off the tee just simply because you're not going to be to hit a club that is going to take trouble out of play.

6 is a particularly difficult shot that you have to take on. I mean, there's no real bailout. If you push it right, you could end up in the fairway bunkers or in the rough. All kinds of troubles can happen and there. And left is left.

There's certain holes that -- there's holes that have been nothing tee shots, like the 3rd. If you play that in the middle of September or October when we play it and it's green and soft, you could just hit a mid-iron down the fairway and knock it on with a wedge. But yesterday it was playing so firm, the fairways really undulate and you have bunkers on either side, it's actually all of a sudden a tough tee shot. And you feel like on such a short hole you should have a chance at birdie, when actually you can hit a 6 iron or 7 iron and it ends up in a fairway bunker.

So tee shots have played a lot different. Eventually, as you get round to the back nine, this even slight doglegs on 15, the way they angle, it's actually quite difficult to hit the fairway. That just seems like the immediate, once you've played it once, it seems like the challenge that you face, first of all, that you see.

Q. Tommy, they're having blood tests at The Open for the first time this week. I just wonder if you thought that was a necessary thing in golf. I wonder if you could give us an idea how often a top player like yourself actually gets tested.
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: I've done it a few times. I think -- we're an Olympic sport these days, so rules apply to everybody. I mean, I'm pretty confident that it's a clean spot, but the rules are rules, and I don't see -- if everybody's doing the right things, then it shouldn't be a problem whether you blood test or not. It is what it is, but I don't see any problem with it.

Q. Tommy, everybody seems to say this is the most difficult of The Open golf courses. Is it, in your view, the most difficult? And if it's not, which one is?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Very good question. It's got to be up there. I mean, I haven't played -- I've watched the last two Opens at Carnoustie on TV, and I know that this week is playing different to those, and I know there's been some horror stories on this golf course.

Generally in The Open, the weather makes it. It kind of doesn't matter how it plays. It's calm then as soon as the wind picks up and the conditions get you, then any Open venue can play really tough.

It's a tough question. Again, setup on the difficulty of a course, good swings and good shots are always going to come out the other side, and you're going to be better off doing that than hitting it all over the place. So that's kind of what you have to focus on. But historically, yeah, Carnoustie has definitely been one of the toughest. But I'm maybe not qualified enough as yet to answer it.

Q. Tommy, was there a moment yesterday with John where you were genuinely surprised by the amount of roll you were getting? And did you ever find that the only thing that would keep it from rolling endlessly was getting on the green?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, well, like the 3rd, I think, was the first -- like I said, it went from -- I just mentioned it earlier, it went from being kind of not really much of a tee shot to it was really difficult to carry it on to the fairway. If I hit a club that will get it onto the fairway carry-wise, then not be anywhere near the fairway bunker. So you actually have to take them on. And that was playing stupidly short, like it was just so firm that it was playing like -- I can't remember how far the bunkers are. Let's say it's 190 to carry it onto the fairway, so that's at least a 7 or 6 iron. But you couldn't keep a 7 iron short of the bunker. So it would take you to 'em all of a sudden.

And, yeah, there were a few holes that were playing very fast. It just reminds you of like an Open, to me, a long time ago, where you had really hot summers and the courses were playing really firm and fast. No doubt about it, it's playing quick. And I don't think a bit of rain last night is going to make too much difference.

But holes like 9, if you hit a straight tee shot, you'll lift it a long way. 10 if you hit straight tee shot, 11 with no wind, that can come into being a drivable hole. And I think John hit a couple of particularly long drives yesterday where he caught one.

Yeah, just there's not really -- it's kind of strange where there's not really a number that you know you're going to be short of. It could be -- John hit a drive on 15, I think, that was like 400 yards, somewhere. You just can't account for that kind of stuff.

Q. Can you see an advantage for the long guys if they can't figure out how to play short of the bunkers? Especially with the rough being the way it is, just let it go?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Potentially. But at the same time, short hitters are going to be hitting 300-odd yards. I don't know if it's really an advantage or it keeps everybody to a certain level and you still have to hit it straight.

I know the rough's not up, but you're still -- if you're 300 yards down the middle of the fairway, you're in a really good spot, and you're going to be able to play golf from there, whether you're 60 yards away from the green in the rough.

I think just having played it once, it's really difficult to gauge. As the weeks go on, you'll probably get more of an idea. But it's kind of that funny feeling where you're not quite sure how it's best to play here.

Q. This time last year you were the local hero at Birkdale. The fact there was a circus around you, what lessons did you learn from that? Do you prefer it this year where you're not quite the main attraction? You're still one of the big name players, but you're not quite the main attraction you were 12 months ago?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Who is the main attraction this year? (Laughter).

Yeah, last year was just a very special experience. I didn't get off to the start I wanted to, but the week as a whole and as an experience, I think that not many -- it just doesn't happen to everybody, and it's not very often that you play an Open where you grow up, and I'd gone into out of form and I was having a really good year, and it happened to be that, yeah, I was kind of the face of an Open Championship, which was my hometown.

So I think I was very lucky in that sense that I got to experience that, and I'll always have that.

Expectation is a funny thing. You go into it -- I mean, last year, I hadn't made the cut in an Open before, but I was kind of one of the favourites to win it. So it's a strange combination, that one. So expectations can be high, but maybe you're not quite ready to kick on and win one, or maybe you are and you don't quite know how it's going to go. But overall, it was just a very cool experience and something that I kind of took with me.

And I think Saturday teed off with one of the early starters with Rosie, and it's the biggest crowd you'll ever see. Everyone fought into the gates to watch. So it's just things that you don't forget.

Q. Tommy, you mentioned the horror stories here. Just wanted to get your thoughts on the Barry Burn and how much that creeps into your thinking, especially as you get down to the last two holes.
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: It's in your mind on 17 more than 18. It's something that you shouldn't -- it's something that, if you just play a practise round, it doesn't really happen and you never go in it. But at the tournament, we've seen it happen plenty of times.

It's a tough finish. I think the great thing about the golf course, no matter where you stand in the tournament, coming into the last four holes, particularly 16, 17, 18, nothing is over until it's over.

Playing it, it doesn't come into you that much, it's just you hit the shots, and there's no point making too big of a deal out of it. If you hit fairways, greens, that's kind of your plan. So if it goes wrong, it goes wrong, but it's not going away any time soon.

Q. Tommy, just to relate it to the previous question about last year, was the second round the sort of quietly impressive one for you in building confidence? Because off the back of The Open record and with all the hullaballoo, was it actually making the weekend like something that's given you confidence going on?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: It was a big thing. It was the first time I'd made the cut in an Open. So I didn't -- I didn't win. I didn't compete in it. I didn't really get anywhere near to doing anything special, but it was still my best Open performance. So you could look at it that way. I bettered myself in every respect.

Yeah, Friday, with the conditions the way they were, being at home, there was no chance I was going to watch it on TV. So I think shooting under par that day -- I don't know how many people shot it under par, but I must have been one of the top three, four scores of the day. It was one of the -- yeah, one of the best rounds I ever played.

Q. Hi, Tommy. Amid the U.S. dominance of the majors, do you sense there's a lot of good will out there for you to win that run and win the Claret Jug? And can England's success in the World Cup, did that inspire you? Did you enjoy that?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: I did enjoy the World Cup. It was kind of a little deflating really once we got knocked out.

Look, America, there's no doubt about it, and there's no other way to put it, than they have an exceptional bunch of players at the moment. I mean, it just happens so that it has been a run of American golfers that have won majors, but at the same time, they've generally been the best players in the world at the time that they've won them.

It will be nice to break that run. I know we're all trying to do it. I mean, Europe and the rest of the world, there's a lot of good players, but there's a lot of good American players. It's just one of them funny runs, I think, that's on at the moment. I don't think it's -- I don't know. You don't really look at them as a nationality. You just look at them as players and people, and you can understand why they're the ones winning the majors. But hopefully, it does end quickly.

Q. Tommy, how much did you need that week off last week, and did you manage to get a complete break, or were you still picking up a club somewhere?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: No, I practised. I just -- like I'd definitely run out of steam when it got to France. I was always planning on taking Ireland off, and it just so happened -- I just needed an extra week off. I think the thing sometimes people don't realise is my next full week at home is going to be after the British Masters, which is mid-October. Sometimes people don't put it into perspective that you do deserve some time at home with your family.

I just wasn't -- I wasn't really fully ready to come back. I didn't watch it on TV. I wasn't really interested that much in what was going on. I was quite happy being at home and practising a bit and spending time with the family and in my own bed. So it was -- yeah, I enjoyed it a lot.

Q. Did you say the kitchen was the thing you missed the most about your house?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: I do like the kitchen. I don't do anything in it, but I like being in there.

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