Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 31 March 2020

Tommy Fleetwood confident he can convert chances to win Dubai Desert Classic title

World No 10 has a superb record at tournaments in the UAE, although he has fallen just short at recent events

Tommy Fleetwood attends a press conference ahead of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. EPA
Tommy Fleetwood attends a press conference ahead of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. EPA

Tied-2nd in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, runner-up last time he competed in Dubai, Tommy Fleetwood was asked on Tuesday if being a UAE bridesmaid was beginning to grate.

“It's better than third,” the Englishman quipped.

It was perhaps a little unfair. Having just turned 29, Fleetwood is a two-time champion of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA, going back-to-back in 2017 and 2018. What's more, he arrives for this week’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic as the highest-ranked player in the field, at world No 10.

Fleetwood did enough to finish second not only at November's DP World Tour Championship, but in the Race to Dubai, as well. He also won the fifth European Tour title of his career at November's Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa, his second Rolex Series triumph.

“The great thing and the positive thing is I'm putting myself up there now,” Fleetwood said.

“Sometimes people just play better. Jon [Rahm] in the DP World played the best golf and deserved to win the Race to Dubai. I came up one shy last week; Lee [Westwood] was the best player on the weekend.

“There’s plenty of times that's going to happen, but I'm not going to grumble at this. If I can keep doing that often enough and keep doing the same things, eventually it will be my turn."

Maybe it will be this week. Especially since Fleetwood feels he might actually be better suited to the Majlis Course then to the National Course, generally a happy hunting ground, down the road.

“I almost feel more comfortable on it than Abu Dhabi, but I haven’t played anywhere near as well on it,” said Fleetwood, whose best Classic finish came with the tied-6th two years ago.

“But I’d like to feel that the way I work and how I try and improve certain areas of my game, that generally most golf courses, I feel I’ve got a chance of competing on and doing well on. Just so happens that the Middle East has been very kind to me at the moment.”

Fleetwood hopes that kindness extends this season to outside the region. Yet to break his major duck, he has gone close in those, too, finishing runner-up at the 2018 US Open and last year’s Open.

So, bridesmaid again.

Unfortunately it's not happened for me yet, but hopefully my career is progressing in the right way to eventually become a major champion," Fleetwood said.

“Those are really the events that change your life or change your career. They can definitely add to your career. Any time they come around, it's a test because everybody wants to win those ones.

"You're talking about second-place finishes in the last couple events in the UAE or second-place finishes in the in majors. The positive thing is they're second-place finishes, I'm up there plenty of times, and hopefully it's just a matter of time and eventually it will be my time. I would love to get one whenever that is."

Updated: January 21, 2020 03:44 PM

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