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January 22, 2019

Tommy Fleetwood

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

BRIONY CARLYON: Tommy, great to have you back here at the OMEGA Dubai Desert Classic. I know you've spent the last few weeks in the Middle East, but how much do you love coming back to Dubai and playing some golf here?

TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, I haven't been here for a while now. But it's lovely. You can't really get too tired of being here and enjoying it. As the weeks have progressed, I'm kind of enjoying practising more and more now. I'm getting into the swing of things for the year.

Last week I was a little bit rusty and things weren't great. But everybody enjoys coming to Dubai, not just for the golf, but I think as we get to come here so often, like two, three times a year, everybody is so familiar and everybody feels at home.

When you travel around the world so much, it's nice to have like a few comforts that you kind of get used to and I think that's why everybody enjoys it so much.

Q. Tied sixth here last year, how do you feel your game is setting up and what do you like about this course?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: It's funny because last year I felt like I played awful around here and it's my best result ever on the golf course. I feel like my game's much better than last week, just in practise that I've had. I came here on Sunday to do some work on my putting, which clearly needed some work and that's getting better.

Overall, I feel sharp. Like I say, I think I feel like I'm sort of getting into the game again a little bit. Last week, not necessarily that I wasn't trying. I was a little bit flat at times but I was trying my hardest. It just could have been better on the golf course, really, but this week I felt great in practise and things are moving in the right direction.

So hopefully it bodes well because I've always loved the golf course. I just haven't put the performances in that I would hope to.

Q. How are you getting on with the new rules?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Some of them are odd, aren't they. I mean, I don't know whether put with the pin in or out. Just take it out most of the time. I think I had it in once last week. Didn't have to look for a ball last week fortunately, so I didn't have to test that one.

I mean, they are different. Some of them make sense. Some of them, you know, I'm not sure about, but it's just part of the game, just a talking point for the game.

Hopefully I'll test very few of them, really. I think that's one of the things that will take a while to get used to, you don't really think about it hitting putts, but they are what they are. So I'm sure we'll get used to it..

Q. What about this year in general, fantastic year for you, how do you go on and top that and do even better this year?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Well, improve. There's things that I want to improve on and there's things I want to try to be better at.

There's always stages in your career or your years that you get to and for the past few, 2017 was a big rise for me.

2018 was still rising but kind of consolidating my position in a state of the World Rankings I've never been in before and playing in America for the first time for a full season. There's a couple of different things going.

This year, there's still things I need to do in my game. If I just focus on my game and focus on areas of my game I want to improve that will make me the golfer that I kind of envision in a few years' time, then I'll stick to that and hopefully that will press me in the right direction.

I'm really not looking at results. Every week, you clearly want to win; everybody does, but without sort of picking out too much and putting pressure on and just trying to be a golfer, really and hopefully things take care of themselves.

Q. Obviously DP World, you were in with a shout and you were trying to push at the end. Do you think that you're fully recharged now? Of course last week wasn't your best week, but do you think that you're recharged?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Of course, funny thing, Race to Dubai wasn't really a thing until it got really later on in the year and the game does funny things to you when there's something to push for.

I played Hong Kong after the DP World, and I think before December even started, I think I played 34 events, 33 events, and that was two team events, as well. That's a lot. That's like too much, really, in general. That's the reason you get to the end of a long year and then you're pushing for something that people never get a chance to go for in their career.

That was kind of a long end to the year, and for the four months of December, I didn't even feel like touching a club. I had to go chip a few balls with the kids and stuff, but it wasn't on my agenda. It was a nice break.

Like I say, again, it takes you a bit of time to get into the swing of things. Not that, you know, you're not ready to come back but just actually easing into that sort of practise in the year, and this week I felt -- last week felt good and this week felt even more sort of passionate about the game again trying to get back into it.

Q. Can you talk a little about the course and perhaps the setup compared to last year; is there any big differences out there?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, it's better. The rough's up a little bit thicker from what I can see, and the rough's up a little bit around the greens. They brought the greens in last year but there was a lot of fringe, so you were still putting a lot of time if you miss the green. It's definitely a little bit more of a test for sure.

But keeping that if you hit it well, and you hit it in the right spots, you can score, which people have done in the past. If it gets just probably spread the field out more really, if you don't hit it well, you're not going to get away with certain holes.

I think like 12 is probably an example with the rough being thicker, if you hit it down the left side you're struggling to get to the green whereas it didn't make much of a difference last year and a couple of the long holes like 5 and 6. I think it will make a little difference with the rough being up.

But I thought that last week and the scoring was ridiculous for two days so what do I know, really.

Q. You mentioned putting with a new driver last week. What was the feedback, and is it in the bag again this week?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, the bag is exactly the same as last week. Felt good. Went into it pretty sharp-ish. And funny thing, if you're not swinging it great, as well, you've got a couple of changes and then you're not swinging it that well, as well as you can, so you still find it a little bit.

But you know, tee-to-green, your stats are okay would you tell me feeling great about my game. That was a good sign, if I sharpened that end of the game up more to the level I want to play at, but the clubs feel really good.

Q. Do you enjoy playing the Majelis in general over the years?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, I think it's a great golf course. I've always enjoyed it. For my first year on Tour, I really enjoyed it.

The second year, I was doing really year and then I had a bad back nine second year I was playing on Tour or third year I was playing on Tour.

Q. Are you really focusing this year, trying to peak at the right times for those big titles?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yes and no. You know, when they come around, apart from the British Masters, I won't play the week before a major this year.

Last year, I felt like I played very well for them and that's something I'll do. And when I'm there, you know, you give it everything for those weeks. Those really, I mean, they are sort of your career-defining weeks in a way.

It's nice that I've been close, but unfortunately, that's just not relative when these come around. But absolutely, majors, I would love to give myself the best possible chance.

Preparation-wise, I'll do everything I can, and we'll see. I mean, I turned up playing pretty well to most of them last year. You can never count on that too much with the way the game is, but hopefully do the right things to prepare well and I might have a chance again.

Q. Tiger Woods, obviously returning to golf this week and he's had a break. He's playing his best golf at the end of last year. Do you expect to see him contending this year?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, definitely. I was lucky enough to play with him a few times last year, and I thought if you didn't know he was Tiger Woods, if he was just a random player that you see out on Tour every week, you'd have just watched him and say: This guy is due a win or this guy; he's trending in the right direction for sure. He's very, very close, and that's without him being Tiger Woods. I'm pretty sure he'll be up there. If I were a betting man, I would have a little flutter on him winning a major this year but again, who knows.

Q. Your thoughts on the new scheduling with the big events in America and the condensed sort of season over there, and as a follow, do you think that will enhance the focus on The European Tour towards the end of the season for the guys that play here?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: It would be nice, wouldn't it, if that happens. I think we have quite a bit at the end of the season, too. I think Brooks put it well last week. He said, "If you get hot and you're playing well, you can have a really big run now because it's so condensed."

I kind of like the way it looks. It obviously bunches up very much in the States for a while. Again, you still have that sort of period of links golf, but it generally just bunks everything up in America a little bit, looking at the sort of world kinds of schedule.

But yeah, we've got some great tournaments at the end of the year. You never know, it might make a little difference that way. So it's difficult, really, so many different things that tournaments revolve around now and the way that schedules work.

It looks good. As soon as I saw the schedule, I quite enjoyed it. I liked the look of it. I think most people felt that.

Q. Will it disrupt your rhythm, events that used to take place at different times of the year?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Not really. Obviously I don't really know how different things like THE PLAYERS will play at a different time, or PGA is a different period or Wentworth is later on in the year.

Generally, I like to think that I keep myself pretty close game-wise. I'm always pretty much close enough or around being on form, so no, it's not like I always feel like I have a great period in the summer and now I'm missing out on events or anything like that, so I should be fine.

Q. Hosting the British Masters, are you making sure that you can get a very strong field?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Well, for me, it's an honour to have my name on the list of hosts that have been. I'm kind of a younger stage in my career than the other guys have been and if you look at what they have done, it's flattering to be part of that.

Again, as a player, you understand what time it's at and the US PGA is after it. I'm not going to ask any players to play or put any pressure on anyone to play. That's not my position at all, and I wouldn't do that.

It would be nice, you know -- it's great to hear the guys say they are looking forward to it and they are going to come and play. Playing a part in the tournament, being a host, you have a bit of pride in it and it's nice to hear the guys talking about it like that.

Again, people that don't play the event and the US PGA is after this, I wouldn't even consider thinking anything else. I think they are perfectly right to do that. But it's near to hear the guys that are playing.

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