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September 25, 2018

Tommy Fleetwood

Guyancourt, France

STEVE TODD: Delighted to be joined by Tommy Fleetwood. Tommy, your first Ryder Cup, it's arrived. Just give us a sense of what it was like being in that team room last night and being amongst the guys.

TOMMY FLEETWOOD: It's amazing. It's been coming for a little while, and it's strange, I've known I've been on the team for awhile now, but it doesn't become real until it's finalized and the picks get made, and then the guys have been talking about it for the last couple weeks when you're sitting having breakfast or lunch.

Getting in that team room -- sort of arriving at the hotel, walking into your room, and you've got all your clothes, your outfits that are lined up, and getting in the team room with all the guys, it's really cool, actually.

And without a doubt, this morning, whatever time I got up and putting this on, it's the proudest moment of my career. It's very special.

STEVE TODD: How does it feel, as well, coming back here as a former French Open Champion, as well? Does that give you an added layer of confidence, as well?

TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, I've been hit and miss around here. Like I say, I've had hit switches, which is good. We've got guys that have been successful around here, which is never going to do you any harm. I know when this week comes, it makes kind of no difference when you stand on that first tee what has happened in the past, but it can only be a good thing to have good memories.

I've always said, whenever you come to a golf course where you've hit good shots and you can picture those good shots, it always helps.

Q. Poults mentioned the sort of video you guys were shown in the team room last night. Can you give us a detail on exactly what it was?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: The impressions, yeah. I got away lightly, really. I've just got hair to talk about.

I mean, Fran's was just hilarious. I think Fran's has made me giggle for about ten hours now. Yeah, it was great. He was really good.

Thomas made this like -- he made it out how it was a serious video, and then we had this press conference of Conor doing all these impressions. It was a nice little laugh for ten minutes.

Q. What was the Frankie impression, Francesco impression?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Just how deadpan he was and -- just trying to make how excited he was with his deadpan tone. It was perfect, really. It was absolutely spot on. Fran's was definitely my favourite.

Q. Talking to Poulter about the fire he brings to the team and the outward passion, and you're the type of guy that's similar; do you feel that will envelope you this week and you'll play like that?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: The honest answer is, I don't know. I always -- great thing about being out there on the course, and I'm guessing -- Ryder Cup, I've only watched, never played, but you can only be yourself and whatever you are will come out.

So for Poults, it's always been that fire and been that outgoing personality that comes out.

You can't hide anything. There's no point trying to hold anything back or do something different or try and be a different personality. It's just it's The Ryder Cup. It's the most pressure you're ever going to be under, I'm guessing, and whoever you are, that will just come out on the three days.

Q. And do you feel that you'll mesh with a player of similar style to that or one opposite maybe that keeps things calm at times?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Very good question. I don't know. I know that I'm quite an easy guy to putt with, most people, really, and that's -- I know there's plenty of the guys I would love to play with. And I think it's Thomas's job to put the guys together, but for me, literally there's no preference. I'll be there for the team and I'll do whatever is necessary, really.

Q. On that, do you know who you're playing with this morning?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: This morning, yeah, it's me, Fran, Poults and Tyrrell. We are all doing the media this morning and going out later. Whether that's any indication, we don't know, but I'm sure it gets tossed around quite a lot. It will be a nice morning, a nice Tuesday morning.

Q. Jim Furyk said that he's very concerned that his guys, some of them have not even seen this golf course and they need to learn Le Golf National. Considering you and your teammates have played here so frequently, is that a mental advantage come Friday?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: It's difficult when it's -- I mean, when it's the best players in the world, and we play on golf courses week-in, week-out, where we have to learn a new golf course; so it's difficult to say how much of an advantage it will be. It can only be a good thing or it can't do any harm that we know the course better or that we've played it more times.

Yeah, there are certain parts of it. I played -- I think I played the French Open four times and didn't do any good, and on the fifth time, I won. So knowledge can only be a good thing, but whether it will make a massive difference; maybe it's a little advantage, but like I say, it's the best players in the world that are out here, so it's not something to look at too much.

Q. When you won here in 2016, would it be fair to say that was the first time that it really occurred to you about seriously becoming a Ryder Cup player; that became an ambition that was uppermost in your mind?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: The points had not started yet, but I think at the time, when I won, it was The Race to Dubai that was at the front of my mind, and The Ryder Cup points had not started yet.

I'd say last year, it was a breakout year for me after struggling for a little bit, and all of a sudden I got myself to that point where I was one of the top European golfers again. So The Ryder Cup was hopefully a natural progression, somewhere where I expected to be come this time.

But you never know. I think when you look at the strengths of the team, at no point was it sort of a given or easy that you are going to be on the team. For sure, this is one of the strongest European sides ever, so to be in it is a massive compliment to what you've achieved over the last year or so.

I mean, I've always wanted to be a Ryder Cup player. I've always watched it and wanted to be there, but I just haven't played well enough in the past.

Q. You had awhile to think about this and talk to maybe some of the other recent rookies in The European Team, Fitz or Woody. Have you had any insights from other rookies?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: No, actually. I mean, playing in America a bit more this year, the guys that I've sort of spent time with are the guys that have played it a lot, apart from Alex and Tyrrell who have been out, so that's us being together as rookies.

I've leaned on guys that have more experience, really: G-Mac, Poulter, Rory, Rosey, Henrik, those guys that I've played a lot of golf with this year. I've kind of leaned on them a bit more to get advice and to get a feel for how it is.

The truth is, they all try, but also, you can't describe it and you can't -- there's no way of knowing how you're feeling until you get to that first tee and it's the most nervous you'll ever be, so then it's up to you to embrace it and deal with it.

Q. Just about that first tee shot, Poults said it's the most nerve-wracking shot in golf. How do you think you'll feel when you go into it?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: The No. 1 thing I've pictured since The Ryder Cup kind of became a goal is that first tee shot. That's been front and centre in my mind, and when I've thought about The Ryder Cup, The Ryder Cup in Paris, especially, I've thought about that first tee shot standing on that first tee and being a Ryder Cup member and playing for that team and hitting that tee shot and what that's going to be like.

I've thought about it plenty, but again, nothing prepares you for the real thing. The grandstand is pretty big. There's no denying that.

Looking forward to it. It's something that everybody wants in their career, so as nerve-wracking as it is, and whatever those feelings are, everybody wants that in their life. So you have to just take it on and let it all happen.

Q. Have you talked to Pat about The Ryder Cup? Is he coming over?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, he was one of -- like we all have these videos in the room, these motivational videos, and he was one of the guys that sent a message to me.

I'm not sure he's coming over. I'm sure he's busy at the weekend but he might make it over. But yeah, we always talk quite a lot. Both busy in our respective jobs, but we talk a lot, and he's somebody that's great to know. He's obviously been part of a team for a long time. He was at The Ryder Cup in Medinah, and that was one of the -- we'll always mention that that's one of the greatest times he's had in his life is being at that Ryder Cup. Yeah, it was a very special time.

He holds -- it has a special place in his heart, The Ryder Cup, and he's been very supportive through the whole thing. Maybe we'll see him, I don't know. I don't know when Man City's next match is, Saturday or Sunday.

Q. Are you wearing a hat this week?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, I have to; otherwise, it's going to be flopping in my eyes, so it will be no good.

Q. Thinking about the closing stretch here, from your experience on various courses and moments, have you found it easier when the pressure is at its greatest? Is it easier to make a birdie on an easy hole or a par on a hard one?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: There's different types of pressure, and sometimes when -- like it's a good question, but I think it depends on the situation. So when it's in your hands, I think it's harder to make a par, and when you're chasing, it's easier to make a birdie, whatever the situation is.

The last holes here are tough holes, but one good thing about the closing stretch is no matter how nervous you are, there's no bail-out on any of the holes. You have to stand up and hit a golf shot.

In general, when it is -- when the pressure is at its most, you can bail-out one side. You can stand up on these holes and there's nowhere to go. You have to hit a good shot or you're in trouble. I've always thought that closing stretch, that's the one good thing about it is that you have no other option than to try and hit a good shot.

Q. When you were a kid growing up in Southport, did you ever attend a Ryder Cup, and if you did, do you have any stories to tell?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: No, I've never been to a Ryder Cup in my life. So this is my first experience of it all. I've only ever watched it on TV.

Q. Why? As far as The Belfry, so close, did you never think about doing it?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: As a kid, we probably couldn't afford tickets. That's probably the simple answer.

And just never been. Like I didn't -- I honestly didn't get to travel to that many golf tournaments as a youngster. You know, I went to The Open when it was in Southport or Lytham, but that was one sort of special time I got to go and watch a golf tournament.

Ryder Cups or anything else were kind of out of the equation. It was down to watching it on the TV.

Q. Ian said in his press conference that he had climbed to the top of that stand to have a look down the first. Did you go with him or do you plan to go up?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: No. We only arrived yesterday, so I haven't been anywhere near it. Might not be a bad idea, yeah. I might like to have a look. It's the biggest grandstand you'll ever see at a golf tournament so far, so I think it would be nice to go up and have a look down the first fairway.

Very special, something that, like I say, you've never seen before and something that's not been. It's great, really. Look, when we were driving our way past it to have the photo shoot today, you look at it and think, yeah, it's pretty good.

Q. You Tweeted the other day that Tiger's performance was the greatest comeback in sport. Do you think there's a way that it could actually have a galvanizing effect for Europe, the fact that he's playing so well?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: I might have got carried away in the moment a little bit, but I think it's up there, definitely.

Honestly, on Sunday, I think you just literally had to get lost in that moment that was happening. I was stood on the balcony, I got to watch Rosey 2-putt and win the FedExCup; couldn't be happier for that man, and then watched Tiger win on his comeback. In the space of that ten minutes, it was just such a great time in golf, and I really thought it was amazing.

Yeah, you know, you're watching something very, very special. That was Sunday. This week's this week. I think it makes no difference to us at all. Tiger's been playing great for awhile, and I don't think -- it wasn't a shock to anybody that he won, so it's not like he came out of the blue and all of a sudden, Tiger's won and we're worrying about that.

There's 12 of us playing and we'll all concentrate on what we're doing. But amazing. Amazing for golf and it was amazing to watch, it really was. I really did appreciate that moment, but it's gone now.

I've got it on video and that will do. I'll watch it again sometime but not this week.

Q. With all this talk about pressure being unlike any other this week, has there been a moment in your career where you've been overwhelmed in a pressure situation and what you might have learned from that?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: I was a bit overwhelmed when my wife was giving birth. I mean, what I can take from that into The Ryder Cup, I'm not sure, but that was probably the most overwhelmed I've been in a pressure situation, and I got told off for shouting too much, so I might try to keep it down a little bit this week.

Look, like this is what we practise for and what we play for week-in, week-out. The best piece of advice that definitely Poulter's given me, and Rory says the same thing: He says it's the most special you'll ever feel. Whatever nerves you felt up to now, times it by ten, and that's what you have; but this is what you want and this is what we play for, so embrace it, take it all in.

That's what you've got to remember. It's not like -- as daunting as it can be, it's not -- I mean, come on, it's not a chore to be playing in The Ryder Cup. It's the greatest thing you'll ever do in your career. I'm very excited about whatever those feelings are.

If it goes good or bad -- I really hope it goes well because I want to play well for the team and I want us to win The Ryder Cup and I want to do well for Thomas and everybody that's involved. If it goes bad, then it will be a massive learning experience, but that's not something I'm sort of worried about right now. Just whatever we can do for the team, we do.

It's massively different. You're here, there's 12 players, the captain, the vice captains, the backroom staff and there's the whole continent behind you. There's a lot of you in this together, so I think good or bad, you're going to get carried through it all week.

STEVE TODD: Thank you.

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