TOMMY Fleetwood is hoping to convert his strong run of form on the European Tour into a third Rolex Series title with a victory on home soil in this week’s BMW PGA Championship, at Wentworth.
The Southport golfer finished tied third in the Portugal Masters prior to last month’s US Open.
He then lost to Aaron Rai in a play-off in last week’s Rolex Series event, at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open.
That latter result at North Berwick’s Renaissance Club lifted him into third place in the Race to Dubai.
And the 2017 European No. 1 believes another strong performance at Surrey’s famous Burma Road course at Wentworth can bolster his chances of claiming that honour for a second time.
Tommy Fleetwood said: “My game is in good shape, I feel good, so looking forward to getting going.
“It is always lovely coming back to this one. I think normally with it comes the atmosphere of home fans and I always think it’s one of the best ones to play in front of.
“I think the first tee is always a really nice feeling when you walk to the first tee, and how much they support you.
“The 18th is always a great finish. It’s different. We have had some bad weather in the past, so not really a time of year that makes a difference.
“The course seems to be playing quite different. But it is lovely – great hotel, English, parkland course. Still lots of good with it.
Best moment? Race to Dubai win. . .
TOMMY Fleetwood said victory in the Race to Dubai three years ago was the standout achievement for the Lancastrian, who won the English Amateur Championship at Little Aston 10 years ago.
“It’s still my proudest thing in golf winning the Race to Dubai – for playing over a whole year and finishing the highest in that ranking.
“Having the Race to Dubai in the bag – knowing a good week can shoot you up there again – is always something lovely.
“I think it’s an amazing achievement. To be around and have another chance this year is great. But the focus is on this week for now.”
“I’ll be lucky, I’ve had that for the last two or three years. But it’s been nice knowing you have a good week and see yourself right up there in the Race to Dubai.
“It’s always nice to have in the background. I think a lot of times when we play a world tour, you go week-to-week and that’s the right thing to do.
“Played really well in Scotland and had things to work on which is always great.
“Keeps you hungry, and it’s just a nice two or three-week stretch again in the UK events that players love coming to.
Reed continues European adventure
JOINING World No. 14 Tommy Fleetwood in the field is current Race to Dubai leader Patrick Reed.
The controversial American has made a special trip over from the States to strengthen his own chances of winning the season-long contest.
The World No. 9 was runner-up to Francesco Molinari in 2018. Reed finished tied fourth on his debut in the BMW PGA Championship last year.
And the 2018 Masters winner will tee it up in the first two rounds alongside European Ryder Cup players Lee Westwood and Tyrrell Hatton.
Meanwhile Tommy Fleetwood will be joined by defending champion Danny Willett – the Masters winner in 2016 – and 2019 Open Champion Shane Lowry.
Reed has had to endure the scrutiny over accusations about an incident over allegedly improving his lie in a bunker in the States last year.
But any criticism seems to have left the Texan unfazed and his eyes are firmly on the prize.
Reed said: “It definitely was motivated by winning the Race to Dubai,” when asked about his keen-ness to travel across the Atlantic for another tilt at Wentworth’s West Course.
“When you’re in the lead, being able to come over is always nice to try to stay on top,” he said.
Captain America supports European Tour
“It was a long decision and it’s one of those that at the end of the day, every time we thought about it, we’ve always supported the European Tour,” said the player nicknamed Captain America after his exploits in the 2016 Ryder Cup.
“We’ve always enjoyed coming over and playing on the European Tour,” said the winner of eight PGA Tour events including the Green Jacket two years ago and the WGC-Mexico Championship, in Februrary.
“Being a lifetime member of the Tour, it was something that I had to come over and play,” said Reed.
“It’s the event, the venue, and supporting the European Tour. The biggest thing for me is it’s their biggest event, and for what the European Tour has done for me, I felt like I had to be here. I had to support.
“And I was going to figure out a way – and my team was going to figure out a way – for me to be able to come over to show that support, considering what they’ve done for me, and especially during times like this where everyone is struggling.
“I see myself as a guy who travels, a guy who plays worldwide, who tries to better my game and figure out not only different cultures, different grasses, different time zones, try to become a more well-rounded golfer.
“And the only way I’m going to do that is by playing on the European Tour and playing around the world.”
Why Rose is ready to come home . . .
OLYMPIC champion Justin Rose is also in action on home soil as part of an all-English three-ball alongside Ryder Cup teammate and long-time friend Ian Poulter.
The latter has been instrumental in guiding the career of rising star Sam Horsfield.
The Manchester-born youngster, who spent most of his youth based in Florida, became a two-time winner during the European Tour’s first UK Swing this summer.
The 23-year-old makes up the group with his mentor Poulter and Rose, who has been working hard to overcome a quiet spell in the States.
Rose, who will have to wait another year to defend that Olympic title after the 2020 Olympics in Japan were postponed for a year, is glad to be back in the UK.
And Rose revealed this week his family are in the processs of relocating from the Bahamas back to the UK to be close to his mum Annie and so his children can be educated in the UK.
The 40-year-old who came through the Hampshire junior ranks in the mid 1990s, said: “It’s great to be home, lovely autumnal feel at the moment.
“Been a crazy year, and obviously first opportunity to really get back and play something on the European Tour.
“To catch up with everybody, first-time experience of the European Tour bubble – I’m excited about playing golf.
“This is for me, the BMW PGA Championship, what I’ve always called a bucket-list tournament.”
Justin swings towards taking ownership
ROSE has also struck out on his own looking after his swing without a full-time coach, having worked in the past with David Leadbetter and Sean Foley.
Justin revealed: “I think ultimately, the decision was, I turned 40 this year and maybe I was fully grown-up – and ready to do more by myself. And not have so much hand-holding.
“I still have Sean Foley around me, who I can consult with if I have a question. That’s the way I treat it.
“If I have a question, go to someone and get the relevant answer – but to take a little bit more ownership myself.
“Hasn’t worked out yet. But these things don’t always happen immediately,” said Rose, who did finish ninth in the USPGA at San Francisco’s Harding Park, in August.
“The last couple of days have actually clicked into a couple days of what I call growth,” he added.
“There’s some light-bulb moments and it’s a blend of some of the new things I’ve learned along the way and some of the old blueprints under Sean.
“I feel like I’m piecing all that together and also body-wise, being able to drill it and groove it in.
“You always see results on the range before you see it on the golf course. But like I said earlier, I feel positive and motivated at the moment.
“I’m enjoying my golf and my practise, so you can only hope that does lead to good stuff eventually.”
No Wentworth crowds in COVID age
ALL the players have been getting used to playing without crowds since March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wentworth normally has crowds of 30,000 every day regardless of wehter the BMW PGA was played in its traditional date in May, or in the new September slot it was given last year after the USPGA moved to May.
Danny Willett was happy to reflect on his win 12 months ago with his defence coming in October as the European date tweaked the date to avoid the clash with the rearragned US Open.
Willett said: “There was lots of good, great moments within that round.
“But you know, coming down the last couple in that position, finishing birdie, birdie, closing out the way we did, just coming up the last with actually being able to enjoy that 200-yard walk up the last with all the family and friends there and crowds there.
“It’s a pretty spectacular backdrop usually on the 18th come Sunday. Memorable moments, and yeah, could be a bit different this weekend – but hopefully same scenario.
“It’s always nice to come back here. Obviously unusual to past years where it’s been incredibly busy and great home support being English.
“Game has not been in an amazing place – so nice to be back here and get a few nice vibes of obviously how things went last year.
“Working hard and see if we can get a little bit of form back and put up a little bit of a fight this week.
•To follow Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose in the first round click here for live scoring.