Tommy Fleetwood has been awarded The Seve Ballesteros Award – formerly the Players’ Player Award – winning the 2017 vote by his fellow professionals at the end of a breakthrough season which saw him claim the Race to Dubai for the first time in his career.
The award is voted for by every European Tour Member at the end of a season and carries the name of the legendary Spaniard, who remains one of golf’s most inspirational icons and will always be considered one of the European Tour’s greatest ever ambassadors.
Fleetwood started the season by clinching his second European Tour title at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship ahead of a star-studded field, and continued his good form in the weeks to follow with runner-up finishes at the WGC-Mexico Championship and Shenzhen International.
It was an impressive one shot victory at the HNA Open de France in July – the second Rolex Series event of the year – which had the 26 year old marching towards his best season yet on the European Tour. Fleetwood was in contention for his first Major win at the U.S Open at Erin Hills, eventually securing a fourth place finish, and then went on to add his name to the history books, carding a course record 63 on the formidable Carnoustie during the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
It would be a year to remember for Fleetwood as he broke inside the top 20 in the Official World Golf Rankings for the first time in his career and produced ten top-ten finishes to see him sit just 256,737 points ahead of his fellow countryman Justin Rose going into the season-end DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.
The Englishman finished tied 21st, and in doing so, became the first Englishman since Luke Donald in 2011 to win the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex and sign off the year as European Number One.
Fleetwood said: “Winning the Seve Ballesteros award has actually made me the most emotional out of all the things I’ve won. It is voted for by the players and for me there’s still so many guys that when I come out, I was looking up to and you watch people on the range and you try to learn from them.
“I’ve made a lot of friends, and I think for people to vote for me as Players’ Player of the Year is just something else. It’s different to anything I’ve achieved before. It’s a very flattering and very humbling.”
Fleetwood was presented with his award by European Tour Chief Executive Keith Pelley and Tournament Committee Chairman David Howell, during his media conference at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA.
Pelley said: “Tommy had a remarkable season on the European Tour and is a truly deserving winner of The Seve Ballesteros Award. He has always been a popular figure among his peers and we have all enjoyed watching his rise through the golfing ranks over the past 18 months.”
Howell added: “Watching the diligent way you’ve gone about being a professional golfer over the years, being so disciplined, dedicated and driven, it’s very fitting that you went on to have the amazing year that you had last year.
“The European Tour’s proud to be a tour that allows people to play and rise to the top of the game. You’ve done that mainly on The European Tour and you’ve become a star of world golf. You’re a great character for the game and it’s with pride that we have you as a European Tour Member. Congratulations, it’s very well deserved.”
Javier Ballesteros, Seve’s eldest son, said: “It is great to see Tommy Fleetwood receiving the Players’ Player of the Year Award, now the Seve Ballesteros Award, in honour to our father. He’s had a sensational year, not just because he has won twice but mainly for his consistency and the way he has played all season. My brothers, Miguel and Carmen, and I are delighted, we think he is a great competitor who has also achieved the recognition of his fellow professionals”.
The Seve Ballesteros Award – an impressive silver and gold circular plate 46cm in diameter – has the names of all the European Tour members who have won Major Championships, starting with Seve’s own Open triumph at Royal Lytham & St Annes in 1979, inscribed around the central image which is of his famous fist-pumping celebrations on the 18th green of the Old Course at St Andrews after his Open win there in 1984.
It also has the names of all the previous winners of the European Tour Players’ Player of the Year award inscribed around the outer circle, those being: Padraig Harrington (2008), Lee Westwood (2009), Martin Kaymer (2010), Rory McIlroy (2011, 2014 and 2015), Luke Donald (2012), and Henrik Stenson (2013, 2016).
Finally, around Seve’s central image is a quote from the European Tour’s founding father, the late John Jacobs OBE, whose words sum up how most people in the game felt about the Spaniard: It simply says: “Seve’s supreme talent, flair and passion for golf inspired millions around the world.”