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January 11, 2014

Tommy Fleetwood


STEVE TODD:  Welcome back, a battle today but how does it feel to get around in 3‑under.
TOMMY FLEETWOOD:  Yeah, massive, tough a course as it is but obviously when you're not quite on your game it turns into a very, very difficult course.   I did play some good holes.  I think I played like four or five really good holes, but obviously the rest of it, I struggled.  You miss your tee shots you're always going to struggle for pars.  I made one bogey but the bogey was always coming at some point, so I was quite cool and calm at the end of it.
3‑under around this golf course, when you're not on your game is an absolutely brilliant score, and so I think it's showing that I'm maturing as a golfer and I can actually score when I'm playing bad, which is actually one of the most important parts of obviously being a professional golfer.
STEVE TODD:  Taking a one‑shot lead over the field, and in a champions field, everyone knows how to win, but what can you take are your victory last year at Gleneagles?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD:  I think knowing that I can win, which is an absolute massive thing, knowing that you can win and thinking you can, which are miles apart.  That week I was good at staying focused on my own game because that last round, things didn't go my way all the time.  I stayed patient and came in good at the end.  If you can stay in with a shout with three or four holes to go, you never know what's going to happen.  That's going to be key, just keep going, stay patient and obviously coming in, those holes are really tough and you never know what can happen.  Just got to keep going.

Q.  Do you feel more comfortable knowing that you have to attack certain holes?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD:  I didn't feel very comfortable.  There's a lot of holes where you can hit driver sort of 8 and 14 are great examples.  I hit driver and you can make a very short par 5, but if you hit it off‑line, you're in massive trouble.  You obviously know the course, you've played it, but you just know that if you hit a bad shot that you're going to be in trouble so it's always in the back of your mind.  You just have to pick your target and commit no matter how you're swinging it.
So you know, I took a lot of irons today, and I think particularly towards the end where I just accepted that I wasn't driving it very well; a hole like 17 you want to hit driver and 18, I snuck it to six‑foot, but realised if I hit driver probably be picking it up on the chipping green.
You've got to have a game plan and you've just got to stick to it.  Mine is taking irons off the tees and leaving myself a little longer back but I'm comfortable with the way my iron play has been.  Hit a lot of good irons the last few days, so I don't really mind leaving myself a long way back as long as I'm on the fairway.

Q.  Were you looking at things and saying to yourself when you were going around and scrambling, you said you knew the bogey was coming, but what were you saying to keep yourself going?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD:  Well, obviously I thought ‑‑ you can tell when you're struggling obviously, a bogey is on the way, but I never thought I would make bogey.  But when it happens, you're just like, well, it's going to happen anyway.
Just have to rely on my short game really, which I've done a lot of work on over the last eight, nine months and I think it's definitely paid off towards the end of last year and it's paid off today, definitely over the first three days.  You've got to stay as positive as you can, otherwise, it's going to beat you up.
So I think that's one of the things you learn as you get older, obviously you play more, and there's just a lot more things that you have to work on; when you play well, it's all easy and you think it's fine.  But playing bad, is when you realise what kind of person and knowing how you can get around, and I think just I'm a lot more happy with myself today than I was yesterday.
You know, 3‑under par, like I say, if you're not on your game, 3‑under par is a tremendous score.  For not striking it well and hitting it off‑line, it's very, very satisfying.

Q.  Have you used an iron off the first tee every day?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD:  Yes.  And I've only hit a fairway once, as well.  Yeah, it's just an iron and it doesn't leave you very far, you still have quite a long iron in, but downwind, the first hole is not easy.  Second is the same and you just have to accept that it's quite a tricky start.  And actually if you can go into the round with a few nice pars, you feel more comfortable going on.
With the third downwind like it has been‑‑ if it's up we can hit 2‑irons on to the green, but if it switches, it's going to be important to get off to a good start.  And if you don't, just stay patient and just realise there's a lot of birdies coming.

Q.  At what point did you make that decision to go with iron off the first?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD:  Straightaway.  I think I hit 3‑wood when I came here on Sunday and that ball was never to be seen again, so decided I would hit irons for the rest of the week.  Especially downwind, I had 6‑iron, 9‑iron into the wind today, so really the main thing you want to do is just hit the fairway.  The first tee shot of the day, just knock it in the fairway and knock it on the green and get off to a nice start, but anything short or on the right is in play and that's it.

Q.  Were you always that sensible in your amateur career?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD:  Probably not.  I hit it a long way so tried to make the most of my driver.  This is my third year on Tour now and obviously played with a lot of great players and you watch what they do, the best players don't really make that many mistakes.  They limit their mistake, and that's what you learn when you play with them.
Obviously you're very excited when you're younger and you just want to play and you just wing it and nothing really matters.  But just step‑by‑step, learning, and course management is very important, especially around this golf course.  If you're not comfortable with a lot of tee shots, you have to hit irons and stick to the game plan, have a game plan and stick to it.

Q.  I know you said yesterday that The Ryder Cup isn't a motivation this year, but going into the last day in convention, yourself and Victor, and Joost, as well, is that not difficult to take out of your mind in a Ryder Cup year?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD:  Well, they are a lot closer to me in The Ryder Cup‑‑ well, I'm not sure about them.  It's not came into my head at all whilst I've been playing.  To be honest, I really just want to compete in golf tournaments.  I'd like to win golf tournaments, and I think The Ryder Cup is something that will happen if I have an exceptional year.  But until then, I have to do everything I can right, and I've probably got to win three times or so if I'm going to get in there.
No, I'm not thinking about it at all.  It's a long way off and like I say, for me to get in, it would be an absolutely exceptional year so for me it's not in my mind.

Q.  Was going to ask you if you came up against Victor much in amateur play.
TOMMY FLEETWOOD:  Yeah, well, we pretty much played amateur golf together, I remember playing‑‑ inaudible‑‑ he won one and I won one.  So we knew each other quite well, obviously playing all the same tournaments and he was one of the best and I think I was one of the best so we joined up quite well and played quite a lot.  He turned pro and got off to a fine start in his career.  He's a really nice guy.  We get on well and we've known each other for a long time so it's fun.

Q.  You are probably two are the youngest guys on Tour.  What would it mean to be sitting here tomorrow night with that trophy beside you?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD:  It would be awesome really.  All we want to do is win golf tournaments.  That's the best reason to win, you beat everybody over the week and it just gives you so much joy.
It would mean a lot obviously, and first tournament of the year, and I haven't played for five weeks, so to be up there‑‑ but I would be in a very happy way if I could come away with the trophy tomorrow.

Q.  What did you make of 16 today?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD:  Well, you can't hit 250 yards off the tee‑‑ once you done that, you have 108 yards straight back into the teeth with your second shot.  That was one of the holes where I played actually perfect.  I hit 2‑iron, 5‑iron to 15 foot and it was pretty much the best hole I played apart from 11.  You can't really hit driver off the tee, so it leaves you a long way back.  And then you've got a long line‑‑ you hit into the rubbish either side of the green and it's a tough green anyway.  You don't really think much it‑‑ Joost played the hole well, but I guess for some people it's trouble.

Q.  All due respect, the locals want Louis to win‑‑ do you think not playing with Louis today or tomorrow, it can be beneficial to you?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD:  Might be.  I'd love to play with him especially in South Africa.  And he's one of the best players in the world, so I'd like to watch him.  I think as long as you keep your head down and focus on your game, I don't think it matters.
Like I say, I'd like to play with him actually, but‑‑ probably if you have the right mind‑set and keep focused on your game but like I say, I'm not sure they will be cheering for many other people tomorrow.

Q.  Not sure off the top of my head how often you've led going into the final round, but is it a position you like to be in?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD:  Yeah, as long as I shoot the best score of the day tomorrow.  It's just more and more experience.  The more you can get, the better, because we do‑‑ every single player wants to win; but to win you have to learn how to do it and you have to learn to be in the lead.
For me, I know I'm only 22, and the more you can get yourself in these positions, the better, because you'll learn from it.  No matter what happens, if I have a terrible day tomorrow, but I've had that experience that you can't buy, you can't work on on the range and you can't think about it at home.  You have to be in that situation to learn from it and experience it.
I want to be here for many years to come at the top of leaderboards.  So it's great to actually get here this early in my career and keep on doing it.

Q.  Do you have a number in mind?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD:  No.  Just play my best.  Don't know what conditions are going to be like, which way the wind is going to affect it; where the pins are could affect it; whatever anybody else does affects it.  I think just really stay patient, stay focused and try and pick shots where you can but like I say it's important to keep your game plan, just stick to your game plan.
I think one of my targets tomorrow will be to make sure that I stick to my game plan every hole, don't get carried away with myself and keep doing what I've been doing because it's been working so far.  18 holes to go, an 18‑hole tournament, but you really should play the last round like you've played the first round, so that's one thing you should do.
STEVE TODD:  Thanks for joining us.

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