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August 8, 2018
St. Louis, Missouri
THE MODERATOR: Good morning, everybody. And thank you for being with us here at the 100th PGA championship Bellerive Country Club. I am pleased to be joined by Tommy Fleetwood, who is currently ranked 11th on the official World Golf Rankings.
Tommy, welcome to what is your fourth PGA championship.
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: I'm going to ask you a little bit about Tommy Fleetwood and what it's going to take him to win here this week at Bellerive.
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Well, I think we played nine holes yesterday, so from a golf course perspective, it is a great driver of the ball for sure, like strong ball striking is what the course seems to require from us. Yesterday I know it was playing pretty long and wet, so I think that's the longest it's going to play.
For me personally, it's a case of keep doing the same things. I seem to -- I've had a good run of putting myself in contention in a lot of events and a lot of the big events, and it just so far hasn't happened. I mean, sometimes golf is just like that, and it's just a case of keep doing what you're doing, and eventually it will happen. There's still things I'd like to sharpen up in my game, but, you know, once you keep putting yourself in position, it's just a case -- four days is a long time, and for me it's just not quite happened over four days for the last few weeks.
But I feel like I'm close and closing in.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. At this stage of the game, you and Justin Rose seem to be headlining English golf, but I'm going to ask you to make a case for another one of your countrymen to do well this week. There are 13 or 14 of you here this week. Who's someone else we should keep an eye out for?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: I mean, Poults has been playing great recently. I think English golf is very strong at the moment. The likes of Tyrrell and Poults are sort of the next ones in the World Rankings that you would say are tremendously strong players. I wouldn't be surprised to see Matt Wallace having a really strong week. I played with him in Europe, I played him a couple times this year, and he seems to have a good work ethic and seems to be going from strength to strength. So as an outsider, I would call him -- but you never look too far past Tyrell or Poults to do something.
THE MODERATOR: Let's go to questions.
Q. Tommy, you set me up beautifully for this question by mentioning being in contention and not quite getting it done. By coincidence, it just seems to be third rounds that are letting you down. So is there something happening on Friday night we should know about? Or are you distracted by the effort of playing on Saturdays? Is there anything you can put your finger on?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: I can't really talk about my Friday nights, but I can talk about Saturdays. It has seemed to happen on Saturdays, and -- I mean, closer to like more recent, The Open and last week just -- they were sort of -- I mean, poor Saturdays, but without me feeling like I did too much wrong. I didn't drive the ball very well last week over the weekend, and that's not helpful around there.
Like I said, sometimes it just doesn't go your way, and your bad shots can get punished when on other days they don't. The putts haven't quite gone in over a weekend when I've been sort of putting really well on the first couple of days.
We have -- yeah, there's no doubt about it. You notice it because Saturdays has been a pretty bad day. But it has come after like really hot Fridays. So really good Fridays and then you put yourself in contention, and then Saturday is not quite as good. But it's nothing that we're like massively worried about. It's just been a case of, when you do sit down and think about it and you go, well, I felt good,
I felt like I didn't do anything different. I felt like I did a lot of good things on the golf course and it just -- a couple of bad breaks, a couple of bad shots that on another day you get away with and a few putts that didn't go in.
It's not something to worry about, but it's just something that you do notice, and hopefully it doesn't last for too long, but it's just been a couple of bad Saturdays, and that's just it.
Q. Tommy, there was a story out earlier this week about you making an offer to Paul Casey for his remaining set of Nikes. Since you don't have backups, if something were to happen to one of your irons this week -- let's say you have to play a 7 iron off the cart path and you ding the face -- do you have a way to get that fixed or replaced this week, or are you just without a 7 iron for the week?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, I'll just be without a 7 iron. It happened in my last set of irons, happened in Mexico, and the hosels on the 7 and the 8 iron bent from wear and tear, so I actually had 12 golf clubs for that week.
This -- I mean, this set, once this set goes, I'll quite happily change into something else. It's just that I have the ability at the moment to play with a set of irons that I've loved and played with for so long. So absolutely, like playing a set of irons different would make life easier in terms of all the trucks are out on tour every week and it's easier to get one fixed or easy to get one sent out.
It's just -- I mean, the main difference really is just that leading edge on it because you can wear them out or you know what they've done all your life. But the look of them, that can easily be copied. So it's not that big a deal if I do happen to break a club this week, then I will be one club down for the week. So I'll have to be careful. But it's not like a massive concern.
Q. What was it like to play with 12 clubs in Mexico? Because I don't think that got a ton of attention. And then also, is there any tension between you and Paul about him being willing to part with the clubs he does have?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: No, no, I understood, and I spoke to him -- I think I saw him on Sunday, and he was like, do you really want those clubs? I think he thought I was joking. But, no, it's fine, absolutely fine. And I don't want P.C. on my irons anyway.
And Mexico, yeah, it was just -- at least it was 7 and 8 irons, so you can kind of -- you can work around that. Mid-irons are all right. You can go soft or hard with the ones in between. It would have been worse if it was like a wedge or something maybe. But it didn't cause too many problems. I think there was like a couple of clubs that I might have needed one, but it was all right. I got by just fine.
Q. Tommy, you were talking a while back about writing things down, good or bad. Is that something you do, why did you do that? Is that something you do daily, weekly, or just what's the sort of theory behind that?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: It just -- well, there's two reasons for it. Partly, I'm not like -- I'm not a great communicator of my feelings anyway in general, so it helps if I write it down. Just a way of getting it out. And it's easy to feel something when you walk off the course, and then a day later you don't feel the same. So your immediate reactions are quite important, I think. So I try to get things down.
I haven't wrote for a few weeks, but in general, it's helped me, and it helps the people I work with if I write it down, and then like I say, you can talk about it. You can leave the course and then want to talk tomorrow, but your feelings are a little bit different. So it just helps to have that fresh.
Q. Tommy, understandably, there's a kind of expectation or an understanding that the next step in your career will be to win a major championship because of how much you've done in quite a short space of time. Is that a feeling you're happy to embrace, or do you have to be careful that that's not taken as a given. It can be kind of harmful to you. How do you balance that?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: No, not at all. Without a doubt, the next step in my career is to win in America and so on and so forth, win a Major. So whether it will be winning the PGA or winning a regular TOUR event, it would be sort of the next -- it would be the next step.
I have put myself in contention in the Majors. I feel like the tougher challenges, tougher courses have suited me this year whilst I've been on my game and I've been playing well. And I've said it before, like career is kind of -- at the end of the day, a lot of careers are defined on major championships. So Majors four times a year are the ones that everybody wants to win and the ones everybody looks at. It's important to keep things in perspective and realize that, you know, you could have -- you could win five times in a year and not win a Major, and some people would think, well, you haven't won a Major -- for some of the elite golfers anyway. So you have to keep things in perspective and treat every tournament the same, if you can.
But since I've been playing well, and particularly since I've been playing well in the Majors, I tends to look at them more, and I have a sense of confidence and belief that I totally can get over the line and win one. It's -- yeah, it's part of the plan, and it's part of my career, well, hopefully, to have a couple of Majors by the end of my career when I'm done.
Q. Tommy, why do you think your record is so much better in the U.S. Open than it is in this event? And how -- do you think you can bring that aptitude from that Sunday at the U.S. Open in here this week?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, the -- I think the PGA in particular, I think -- so I've played three. First one was my second Major maybe. I was pretty young, and I missed the cut by a shot, playing all right, but I didn't quite have an idea about U.S. golf a little bit. So I didn't quite get around the course as well as I could have done. Second one came when I was in my depth. That was at Whistling Straits. That's not something you want to be when you're not hitting it great.
And last year -- last year I actually played all right the first day, but, again, a course where I struggled on that at Wells Fargo this year. Just kind of struggled on that course a couple of years. But the U.S. Open just happens to be an event that I've done really well in. I mean, it's happened, I think -- as this is my fourth PGA, maybe this will be a bit of a better reflection if I play well or not this week.
But it's hard to put your finger on why I would have performed better in one event and not so much this one. Slightly different styles of golf. But it just hasn't gone so well really. But I played with Justin Thomas last year, so I got to see the eventual winner. So I got to see a couple of things he did. You know, hopefully this week I do better, and I can sort of break that run.
Q. On the Sunday in the U.S. Open, you just played -- you just seemed to relax and just go for it, as it were. Is that sort of a fair way to look at it?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, the Saturday was a tough day, and I -- if I could go back and hit one shot at the U.S. Open, it would be my second shot on 10 on Saturday, trying to do too much with the shot. If I could go back, that's the only shot I would change. And coming back off that, you know, the course was -- it was definitely a slight overreaction from Saturday to Sunday and how much easier they made it, and it was kind of set up for scoring.
I felt like I -- obviously, I was playing well that week, and my score was on, but some days you just get on a run and hole some putts, and that day was just my day. But it was -- I mean, you're either going to go out there and shoot a great score, or you're going to -- or anything other than that wouldn't have really been noticed. I just happened to get a really good day.
Q. Tommy, what was your first trip to America?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: I played -- I think it was the Jones Cup, the amateur event at Ocean Forest. That would have been 2008-ish or 9-ish.
Q. Did you come back much before the PGA at Valhalla?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: No, I hadn't -- no, up until then, I hadn't had much experience playing in America or anything. It was just something I'd never had that much chance to do, play an event over here. So that was maybe my second trip or third trip.
Q. So when you've got some ability coming through, and mostly in British golf, I'm just curious for you, young, and others coming through, is it at all intimidating the first time you come and play a big event in a country like this?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Absolutely. It's a big change and something that you -- it takes you by surprise straight away. I mean, if you look at -- if you look at yesterday, we came back out to play, like we finished nine holes, and I mean, the atmosphere was almost like a Saturday of a tournament with us all being back out. And I think it's something that, for us, we're definitely not used to.
I mean, all the Majors are similar, this one in particular seems to have a really, really good atmosphere, and it's busy from Monday all the way through. So definitely, without experience of it, it takes you by surprise. It's something that you have to sort of ease your way through and understand how to kind of manage the time and how to -- you know, you're basically playing a practice round like you're in a final group on Sunday. So it's just that switch around, you're dealing with that all week. But it's just something that, the more you do it, the more you get used to it, but it's great.
Q. You said you picked up a few things playing with Justin. What were they that could be helpful for you?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Well, the number -- I think the number one thing was he was -- last year he was 4 over through 16 holes, and he wedged it over the back on 8, and he was like -- he was in -- you know, he was in a really tough spot. Anyway, he got that up and down and birdied his last hole of the day, and from there on, I mean, the rest is pretty much history, how he played and how he did it. But that stands out as, as long as you stick in and keep going -- you can go two ways in a Major, either the course can absolutely destroy you if it's not going your way, or you can stick in, and you never know how it's going to turn round.
I've had examples of that myself, say, at the U.S. Open this year. But that was the number one thing that stuck out really from how much he struggled sort of a while in that first round, but stuck in, kept that belief and kept himself in the game and ended up winning a Major was the number one thing for me.
Q. Another question. In Akron last week, you said that you were really excited to see Tiger's name on the leaderboard in Carnoustie. Why?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Well, he's Tiger, isn't he? He's still Tiger. For people of -- definitely for guys from my generation that would have grown up with Tiger in his prime, I mean, how many people get to sort of have the chance to be in contention or play against Tiger Woods on a final day of a Major when he was the guy that you watched, he was the hero kind of thing. And I think it's something very special for quite a large number of players at the moment that he's come -- that he's had his comeback and he's playing well and we have that chance really, that whenever it comes, we could eventually be playing with Tiger on a Sunday coming down the stretch. I think it's very special.
Q. Tommy, you said last week that the difference between you being at the level you are now compared with four years ago, or a couple years ago, is strictly the swing, and that there was something that you weren't able to do then that you had to work through and do now. Without getting overly technical, can you explain at all what that was?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, well, I was -- I mean, I was working on -- so I was working with Pete Cowen, and we were working on a method, which I -- which we believed would make me a world class golfer, and my tendencies kind of went against it. So we were always working against something, which would be a shut club face and a draw that would miss left. I've always guarded against a left shot.
So in effect, I was swinging a club with a subconscious kind of fear of what I was going to do, and that was something we -- you know, as a player and a coach, we just couldn't seem to figure out, because I'd be fine on the range when it didn't matter, but on a golf course I really struggled.
So from then till now, I think a bigger and certainly a better golf swing than I've had, but more understanding of what can go wrong when I'm playing and being able to get it round a bit better would be the change for me.
Q. Is there any method to when you will use that beautiful little three-quarter swing compared with the full swing?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: No. Pretty much, if I ever use -- if I ever have a full follow through with an iron, it won't have been the swing that I meant. We started practicing it, and one of my coaches, one of our practice sessions, we did a lot of it, that three-quarter swing was basically to take my hands out of it and to basically time my body up with my arms and the club. And the more we did it, the more it just became -- it would have been a silly idea to do it on the range when I was hitting it so well and not do it on the course because it was clearly helping me, and that just became my swing.
So generally, if I've had a full follow through, I've mistimed it, and it either goes in the right direction or it doesn't.
Q. Tommy, what has Francesco's win in The Open done, for want of a better phrase, the sort of rank and file European Tour members who will have probably played with him over the years and seen him progress? What is seeing that he can win the Open, what has that done for you guys?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Well, watching him win was great. He's been easily one of the best players in the world for a few months now. Whenever you see a guy that you play with and compete with all the time, it's always going to give you confidence when they win one of the biggest events in the world, and you can see that they can do it, so there's no reason why you can't. So it's good in that respect.
I think it's great for the profile of European golf. I think it's great to have momentum like that going into the Ryder Cup later on this year.
I think, for me, with him being a friend, I was more personally just happy for Fran, and I really thought he deserved it, and I thought it was great for him and could kind of get a sense of how he would feel and spoke to him afterwards. Yeah, I didn't really think too much about what it would do for the rest of us. I was just happy that he had his moment and he deserved that win really.
Q. Just to double-check, so the 7 and 8 iron that you played with out in Mexico, did you get those repaired, or did you have to go to an old set to get --
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: No, they're just in the garage at home. I had -- the set I'm using now, I'd had made before that, and they were in Orlando at a friend's house. And it just -- they were pretty worn anyway, so it just basically made me change quicker because it just takes it out of the equation. There's always a sense of, oh, if I change my irons, they might not be as good or might not perform as well. I didn't have a choice at that point, so I just put them in.
Q. After Mexico this year?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, Bay Hill was the first event where I used them.
Q. General question for you. What's the best part about being Tommy Fleetwood in the year 2018?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Well, if I didn't say my wife and kids, I'd be in trouble probably, but that is absolutely the best part. My family is the best part. I have a -- you know, I always, without being cheesy, I have a massive appreciation for how well I've played after going through a blip and knowing how it feels to play terrible and watch players hit shots that you can't do. So I think I'll always have -- whilst I'm doing well, I'll always be very grateful that I have the opportunity to play and compete in these events, that I have an air of confidence that I was so far away from at one stage.
But without a doubt, my home life and how lucky I am with my family and Frankie. Just nothing comes close to that. I'd quite happily give everything up right now.
Q. You'd give everything up, absolutely?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, I'd give everything up. Not that if I have the choice, but if it came to it, I wouldn't think twice. Family is so far ahead of everything else.
THE MODERATOR: Tommy Fleetwood, not a bad job communicating with us this morning. Better than you give yourself credit for. Thank you for spending some time with us. Thanks.
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports