Tommy Fleetwood finds reason to shine as rain, hail pelts Pebble Beach

PEBBLE BEACH, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 05: Tommy Fleetwood of England plays a shot during a practice round prior to the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at Pebble Beach Golf Links on February 05, 2019 in Pebble Beach, California. (Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images) Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

Tommy Fleetwood finds reason to shine as rain, hail pelts Pebble Beach

PGA Tour

Tommy Fleetwood finds reason to shine as rain, hail pelts Pebble Beach

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PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – On Tuesday morning, the sea was angry. Foul weather featuring bitter temperatures, vibrant winds and frequent volleys of showers pelted Monterey Peninsula.

And Tommy Fleetwood couldn’t stop beaming.

“I’ve been playing in hailstones and I’m still smiling,” Fleetwood said from the warmth of the media center after playing 18 holes at Pebble Beach.

The course and the views of Stillwater Cove and Carmel Bay will do that to you, as will Spyglass Hill and the Monterey Peninsula Shore Course. These are the courses used for this week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and they’ve already given Fleetwood chills – figuratively and literally.

“It’s just one of those few places in the world that has like an aura and an atmosphere about it and feel like really, feel very lucky to be playing golf this week,” said Fleetwood, who will make his first appearance in the tournament starting Thursday. “For me, (Pebble Beach is) very similar to St. Andrews in that it is historic, and you know you’re walking on sort of, I don’t want to say sacred, but you’re walking on very special land when you’re playing.”

The Englishman, ranked No. 14 in the official world golf rankings, is playing his second consecutive year as a PGA Tour member and said he was glad to add the Pebble Beach Pro-Am to his schedule. Especially with the U.S. Open being played at Pebble Beach in June. Fleetwood has finished fourth and second the past two years in the national championship.

While the course’s condition and setup will be vastly different in June – currently Pebble Beach is extremely soft after recent storms and the rough is nowhere near the height it will be in June – Fleetwood won’t pass on his chance to gather reconnaissance.

He’ll concentrate on sight lines, certain chips around the greens, certain putts on the greens. As well, he’ll get a feel for the area and start forming a comfort level.

“You’re playing for two pin positions this week really in preparation at Pebble Beach, but you know that there’s a U.S. Open going on in a few months’ time, so you have a look (at other locations),” Fleetwood said. “You can picture stuff and you have a look and you can try certain little shots out, but it’s nowhere near what it’s probably going to be like.

“But still, to have, it’s a massive game to come here. And there’s so many guys that played the PGA Tour for a long time will have been here. And that they know it, they feel comfortable, they have been here a lot. For me this is my first time, so any like gain or advantage that I can get instead of just turning up in June, is much more positive and good for me.”

Fleetwood, who has three wins and 19 other top-10s the past two years, has played just twice this year, finishing in ties for 42nd and 16th on the European Tour. But his schedule starts to ramp up now, which Fleetwood hopes will benefit him.

“Sort of started up a little bit slow in January. Didn’t play quite how I would have liked, but things are definitely going in a very good direction and feel like I’m hitting the ball well and it’s just a case of getting going again, really,” Fleetwood said. “Getting to playing again and getting into that rhythm of golf and tournament golf again, all in all I feel pretty good.”

And as he said, it’s hard not to feel good playing in this neck of the world.

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