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May 7, 2019

Tommy Fleetwood

Hillside, Southport, England

STEVE TODD: Delighted to be joined by our tournament host, Mr. Tommy Fleetwood. Tommy seems a bit strange welcoming you to south port but welcome nonetheless. It's been quite a long process in terms of the hosting, building up to this. I know it's been quite an enjoyable experience for you, but just give us a sense of how proud you are, now the week is upon us, of seeing your face around Hillside and the reception you've had from all your peers so far.

TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, very proud. It's strange, like especially the last two days, I'd say in driving in the car this morning, I said to Clare, I feel way more nervous than a normal event, I don't know why.

So it's been a long process. The last year has come around really quick. I'm really happy with how it's turned out so far. Everybody has been saying great things about the golf course. It's nice to see faces again, like in Europe. I haven't been around for a little while, seeing them, catching up, and thanking them for being here, but so far, so good.

Everybody seems really happy and the tournament is running smoothly and I've done probably the least amount of anybody else, so well done to everybody so far.

STEVE TODD: I know one of your key messages for this tournament was really bringing it back to the northwest region, and you've really been pushing that and all the stuff you've been doing in advance of the tournament. I know you're going to share some exciting news with us about your academy today. We have some photographs fresh off the camera and on the screen there for everyone to have a look at but just tell us a little bit about the academy.

TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah -- again, really proud and happy. It's come at a perfect time again. For me, my personal background would be I grew up playing in south port as a little junior. There was a junior sort of group called the Sefton Juniors I went to every Monday night after school and I love spending time with kids and I love watching the game grow, and spend my life with people who love the game.

So I think it's something that we've wanted to do. Myself and Clare have sort of been able to get that happening. So Tommy Fleetwood academy, it's being announced today as I'm speaking and it's just been a perfect opportunity, perfect timing to bring it to light, and again, just do something for the kids and grow the game the way I and people around me wanted it to and spending time with the kids learning the game.

People have different times in their careers where they can start something and give back, and I think this is perfect for us.

Q. Must be an eye-opener hosting a tournament. What have you learnt that you didn't know before?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: I would say a couple of things is that, well, probably just one main is the work that goes into an event from getting the golf course ready to behind the scenes, a press standpoint, media standpoint, tournament director role.

I would class myself lucky to have been able to see -- I've not even seen a lot of it. I've just been kept up-to-date with it and had three or four meetings throughout the year. But to see how much work goes into an event, and this is in a short period of time, as well, and everybody's efforts -- and for me as a host, it's nice that everybody putts that effort in. I would say that's the biggest eye-opener, how much work goes into so many different sections of the event.

Q. Any concerns about having hosting duties? Having a major next week, you have to think about your own game long-term. Were there any concerns about the timing of it?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: I think first and foremost, happy to keep the tournament on the schedule. I think that was the most important thing, and I was happy to be part of that, at whatever time that is. I get an extra week in my own bed and I'm not ever going to complain about that. Who knows? I normally have a week off before the majors, and I haven't won one yet, either. So who knows, maybe playing the British Masters the week before might be the turning point.

Q. What are your expectations -- organising and playing?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: I would say I'm very lucky, the people running the event have made it as simple and easy as possible.

I would say we know what we're doing this week, and I know what I've got to do. I'd say everybody's been really good at keeping us informed. Clare looks after me very well. I want to play well and I want to do really well in the event. At the end of the day, I'm not here just to host. I'm loving doing that and really proud that I've got my face to a tournament, but still, I want to prepare as well as I can and hopefully put on a good show. It's a different feeling coming to the course -- not that I play here loads because I don't get the time but I normally drive in the car park and get the clubs out of the car and go to the first tee and don't really see much else.

It's different preparing for a course that you think you know pretty well when you play it quite often but just seeing different things and how it plays in a tournament.

Q. How different does the season feel as a whole?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, again, a couple different reasons, I've started the years off pretty fast in the last couple of seasons. So from a performance standpoint, I've been a little bit slower than I have in previous years.

Now we seem to wait a long time for the Masters to come around, the first major and now they are going to be thick and fast and constant one after the other. Whatever happens, whether you do well in it or you don't do well in it, you're going to react quick and prepare for the next one.

I think it's going to be a different experience for everybody, but it also could be a very good thing. We're going to have a really good like short period of golf where the majors are on and it's good for the world to watch.

Q. Give us your earliest memories of playing at Hillside?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, it was, again, one of the best golf clubs in the area. I always wanted to play as a kid. I can't remember when I -- when the club let me sort of join and be a member, but Hillside Pines was always an event coming from Southport I wanted to play, like an Order of Merit, and it was a great course. I always felt lucky to get a chance to play it, like all of them around here.

Q. What do you use from 2017 to help you from a playing perspective this week?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, that was the biggest crowds I've of seen and walking to the first tee on the Thursday -- well, not everybody gets that feeling, your hometown and playing in front of a home crowd. I would say I'm lucky to come from the northwest where the support is extreme.

I loved it and I did learn things from that. I wanted to do well so badly and I didn't really -- the first day was very disappointing but I bounced back from it and I remember on the Saturday morning, I played with Justin Rose at 9.30 and the gates opened at 9.00, so we had everybody on the golf course following us.

Just playing in front of those people that are behind you and supporting you; I go around the world and I get good support but there's nothing quite like home.

I'm looking forward to it this week. I want to put on a good performance, but I know I really know that everybody here, whether I do well or not, they are going to make this event one of the best of the year, I'm sure of it.

Q. I was interested in what you were talking about with the academy. What age is a good age for children to be encouraged to start playing golf?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Well, any age is great. The academy is 6 to 14. That's our window. My son, he's 18 months and he wants to hit the golf club like 10 or 12. I don't think there's any age that's a bad age to get into golf. It's a great sport, whether you're a young kid or an adult looking to do something with friends. We love the sport for so many reasons, and I would love to see the game expand more, especially the town we're in and the community we're in, it's perfect. It's a perfect area for it. I'm obviously biased because that's where I'm from but I do think it's the perfect game and it's a great game to get into.

Q. You touched on it earlier -- you admitted that you wanted it so badly and putting pressure on yourself. Is that what you talk about, learning from that experience?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, definitely, and there's always a fine line between -- I think a lot of the time when we play, it's not necessarily nerves that send you off track. It's actually effort, and you try so hard. Definitely for myself, try so hard sometimes, and that's where I can go wrong a little bit, just put ting that extra effort in when you need to keep it flowing and simple.

It's a different atmosphere when you play behind so many people that are behind you, and you want to do well for them; it's not just about you then. You want to put on a great performance for your town and the people that come to watch you. It's different pressures, but again I've learnt from it and I've grown since then. That was my first season where I was starting to contend in majors. There's so many different things that have happened since then that I'm way more used to. I'm very excited about teeing it up on Thursday this week.

Q. Have you hosted other things in your life? Are you a good party-giver?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: No, I'm not the greatest host at home, but my wife is way more outgoing at that stuff than me. It's a team effort. Is that it? That was obviously a terrible answer.

Q. Talking about hosting, how many requests have you had for tickets this week?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Plenty. Just try and get people here, really. It's nice to have friends and family and other people come and watch. I'm just very grateful for them to come. You do get the requests for tickets.

Q. Without sounding negative, the likes of Justin and Paul Casey and Poults, sort of apologetic why they are not here, do you understand why they are not here?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: There's no need to apologise at all. When I started hosting, you get the -- you know, you get the option if you want to be a part of trying to bring players along and get them to play, and I never wanted anything to do with that. I would never put -- I would never want any player or friends or peer to think that, you know, I wanted them to do something for me. So I didn't want any of that, and I understand people's schedules. I understand the time of the year that it's at, and everybody has their own -- you know, what they are doing.

There's absolutely no hard feelings by anyone, and there never would be. No, if they did apologise, I would tell them, don't be stupid and shut up.

Q. Did you ever sneak in here?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: No, Birkdale was the first priority to sneak on to, and I got a membership here, so I was okay.

Q. Who do you see doing it forward? Do you think it will stay like this?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: We'll see how good a job I do, whether the tournament ends after my hosting (laughter). I would love it to continue. I think it's a great thing. I think having a host at the event is a great initiative for the player and for the Tour, and for the tournament. I would love it to continue, and I would love to support whoever it is after me. But I think it's a great idea, and I've enjoyed it. I'm enjoying it. I've only come today. Today's been my first day coming here but it's been nice seeing everybody, and just having my little part to play in the event this year.

Q. Just looking forward to next week, have you played Bethpage before?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: No. Never. I've seen it played in the events on TV but never -- I mean, I couldn't describe one hole to you. But we'll be there nice and early and I'll have plenty of time to prep. I mean, everybody raves about the course, don't they, so I'm looking forward to that.

Q. Do you think it's the kind of course that might suit you? Even though it's a US PGA, close to the U.S. Open, kind of a U.S. Open-style?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, I general kind of say every course suits me and then see where we go from there. I try to make a positive statement about it and then work backwards from there. But yeah, I mean, in general, the major setups are generally the toughest and I do like that about them I feel like. I enjoy playing that style of golf, and I enjoy tournaments where, you know you have to play well, and it tests every aspect of your game. We've seen it played in U.S. Opens and PGAs. It's probably one of the more well-recognised courses in America. Let's hope so, anyway. We'll start off saying it's suits me and then see.

Q. What's your best score around Hillside?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Don't know, actually. I normally play a pairs match and don't keep score. I don't know. My caddie shot 63. He'll be happy I told everybody that. Surprised he's not told you already.

Q. If you walked up Lord Street, how many people would stop you and want to talk to you?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Probably very few. I don't know, but we can make -- maybe we'll like a little like Twitter section of it. I'll just walk down Lord Street and we'll count. You can all have a guess and we'll see.

STEVE TODD: Okay. We'll film that tonight then. Thanks, Tommy, for joining us and good luck this week.

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