Tommy Fleetwood admits his season has exceeded all expectations so far as he prepares to tee it up at the Turkish Airlines Open – the sixth Rolex Series event of the year – as leader of the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex.
The Englishman arrives at the Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort excited by the prospect of capitalising on his most successful European Tour season to date, as he prepares to take on some the world’s best golfers, including Henrik Stenson and Race to Dubai rival Justin Rose, at the first of the final three Rolex Series events of 2017.
The 26 year old claimed victory at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, finished second at the WGC-Mexico Championship and fourth at the US Open as he announced himself on the international stage.
He extended impressive his form with a Rolex Series win at the HNA Open de France and followed that with top tens in a further two Rolex Series event – the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation and the Italian Open – to hand him a 865,769 point lead over Masters Champion heading into the closing trio of events.
With US22.5million dollars up for grabs over the last three Rolex Series events starting this week in Antalya, Fleetwood is keen to get over the line as quickly as possible, with the Garcia, World Number Six Justin Rose and World Number Five Jon Rahm among his challengers.
Meanwhile, defending champion Thorbjørn Olesen is looking forward to returning to the course he won at in stunning fashion just 12 months ago, when he claimed a three-stroke victory over David Horsey, and setting a course record 62 during the week.
The Dane is also targeting a rise in the Race to Dubai Rankings from 27th position as he looks to move into contention for the 2017 Race to Dubai Bonus Pool with US$5million divided amongst the leading ten players at the conclusion of the 2017 DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.
Tommy Fleetwood: “I’m not going to lie. Last week wasn’t the ideal result but it didn’t actually do any harm. I think I moved ahead again last week. As much as you look, I’m still sort of quite grounded, quite focused on what I’m doing and trying to improve each week.
“The ultimate goal every week is to win. I do want to win another tournament before the year is out, and there’s only three left, and I would love to get into contention.
“It is pressure but it’s a completely different kind of pressure – I’m enjoying it. It’s not something I’ve ever done before, so I don’t know what you’re supposed to do. It’s easy to look at leaderboards or look at where you are at the end of a week. So everybody wants to talk about it because it’s massive, it’s the Race to Dubai, isn’t it? It’s one of the biggest things you can achieve in your career effectively.
“I had a long stretch off in the middle in the summer – I had more important things going on at the time – but the last four events are big events, and I’ve got a chance of winning the Race to Dubai. Can you imagine if I had a week off and then lost by 20 grand? I can’t let that happen really.
“So, if I don’t win it now; if somebody like Justin (Rose) or Sergio (Garcia) was to win an event, I can’t do anything about that, but if I had left it out of my control a little bit that way, then yeah, I’d have been quite unhappy with myself.
“It’s a new experience and I’ve got some of the best players in the world behind me. At the moment, I’m on top.”
Thorbjørn Olesen: “It feels pretty good, pretty special. It’s a great place. Good golf course, very good hotel. I’m looking forward to getting this week started. I have a lot of good memories.
“The Rolex Series are some of the biggest tournaments we play all year and that makes it more special to win one of them, so I’d love to make it a double and win one more.
“I felt like my game’s been in really good shape this year. The last three or four weeks, I’ve been struggling a little bit, but before that, I felt like over the summer I was playing really good golf. I didn’t really get the results but I felt like I was hitting the ball very good. I’m just hoping to get a strong finish here to the season like I did last year and see if I can get another win.
“I feel pretty comfortable here. I know the golf course very well and have a lot of good memories. So I’m just trying to remind myself of all the good memories and all the good shots.