Role as British Masters host won’t distract Tommy Fleetwood from PGA Championship

Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Role as British Masters host won’t distract Tommy Fleetwood from PGA Championship

Euro Tour

Role as British Masters host won’t distract Tommy Fleetwood from PGA Championship

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HILLSIDE, England – Tommy Fleetwood didn’t put pressure on Europe’s best, especially Britain’s best, to play in this week’s $3.4 million Betfred British Masters, despite his role as tournament host.

That’s not Fleetwood’s style, even if it has robbed the tournament of a string of big names who could have made the first event of the season on European soil a huge success.

Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey, Luke Donald, Graeme McDowell and other British players are conspicuous by their absence this week. So, too, is Ryder Cup partner Francesco Molinari, and Ryder Cup team mates like Sergio Garcia, Jon Rahm, Alex Noren and Thorbjorn Olesen. Fleetwood is so well-liked he might have been successful in persuading some of the above to play.

However, the affable Englishman is aware the tournament he’s hosting at Hillside Golf Club in his home town of Southport falls before the year’s second major, the PGA Championship at Bethpage. There was no way he was going to interfere with personal schedules.

“When I started hosting, you get the option if you want to be a part of trying to bring players along and get them to play, and I never wanted anything to do with that,” Fleetwood revealed. “I would never want any player or friends or peers to think that, you know, I wanted them to do something for me. I understand people’s schedules. I understand the time of the year.”

Nor does he expect any of the above to apologize to him next week for not turning up.

“There’s absolutely no hard feelings by anyone, and there never would be. If they did apologize, I would tell them, ‘don’t be stupid and shut up.’”

Fleetwood, defending champion Eddie Pepperell, Matt Wallace and Tyrrell Hatton will contend for the title before jumping on a charter plane on Sunday to travel to New York. Not only is the scheduling of this week’s tournament poor for many of Europe’s elite, but for Fleetwood and company too. With a second and a fourth in his last two U.S. Opens, the 28-year-old should be one of the favorites next week.

“I normally have a week off before the majors and I haven’t won one yet, either. So who knows, maybe playing the British Masters the week before might be the turning point.

“I generally say every course suits me and then see where we go from there. I try to make a positive statement about it and then work backwards from there. In general, the major setups are generally the toughest and I do like that. I enjoy playing that style of golf. I enjoy tournaments where you have to play well, and it tests every aspect of your game.”

If Tommy does win next week, then expect him to play the week before every future major, even if it isn’t an event he’s hosting.

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