After a gruelling season of Ryder Cup glory and breaking into the world top ten, England’s Tommy Fleetwood is already looking ahead to next year, seeking rejuvenation in the 60th Hong Kong Open.
The world number nine will tee off at Fanling Thursday alongside Masters champion Patrick Reed and Ryder Cup hero Sergio Garcia, with Australia’s Wade Ormsby stepping up for his first-ever title defence.
Fleetwood, 27, previously admitted the gruelling 2018 season — which saw a successful defence of his Abu Dhabi title and the forging of a Ryder Cup-winning partnership with Italy’s Francesco Molinari — had left him feeling “jaded”.
But Fanling is a “great atmosphere… for a new start,” the affable Merseysider told reporters in Hong Kong.
The $2 million-purse tournament kicks off the European Tour’s 2019 Race to Dubai, and Fleetwood is raring to go after narrowly losing out to Molinari just last week.
“If you play well here, you’re on a head start for the year. It sets your season up perfectly,” he said.
And Fleetwood already has form on the course, known for its short length and small greens.
On his debt in 2016 he came within two strokes of the number one spot, setting in motion a remarkable run that saw him gatecrash the world top 20 and clinch that season’s Race to Dubai title.
“Basically (for) this course, the best ball striker for the week is going to be up there with a chance of winning, for sure. And that’s how it’s supposed to be,” he told AFP.
“And sometimes (on other courses) you don’t quite get that because people can get away with driving it bad, or they might putt well for one week and not hit it great, but still find themselves up there.
“But Fanling is a test of your all-round game. Especially for me, that’s what makes a golf course.”
Fleetwood’s Ryder-winning bromance with Molinari — dubbed “Molliwood” during Europe’s victory over the US — is going strong, he said. The two are in touch “all the time”.
But with the current champion missing out on the chance for points while he takes a well-deserved break, the younger Fleetwood is keen to get that head start — even if it does mean delaying the holidays a little longer.
“December for me will be a nice rest, so I’ll look forward to that,” he said, adding that it will also mean a return to parental duties.
“Play golf or change nappies,” he said. “Pretty much my life.”
© Agence France-Presse (Additional edits by Marisa Kennedy)