Tommy Fleetwood has pledged to maintain his aggressive approach as he aims to go from first to last at the Masters.
Ryder Cup star Fleetwood was the first player to hold a press conference at Augusta National on Monday afternoon. The last player to hold one on Sunday evening will do so wearing the champion’s green jacket.
There is, of course, the small matter of beating the other 86 players in the field, but Fleetwood carded a third round of 66 on his way to finishing 17th in the Masters last year and was third in the Arnold Palmer Invitational and fifth in the Players Championship.
“The Arnold Palmer in particular I built a lot of confidence that week and then the following week was as confident as I have felt on a golf course,” Fleetwood said.
“It’s strange when you have the two best finishes of the year and you’re disappointed in both of them because I really felt like I had good chances in both and I didn’t win either. But overall, everything’s in really good shape.
“I feel great being here this week. This is my third time playing and you really get a sense of the difference in how you feel from year one to year two to year three. Year one, it’s all so new, and not overwhelming, but there’s so much to take in and it’s your first time here.
“Year two, you’ve been here already, so you’re more comfortable with it and it just kind of progresses to the point where, I’m not like Freddie Couples or anything like that, but I’m getting a better understanding and feeling of the tournament and the course and what that involves.”
Fleetwood’s chances of victory at Bay Hill were scuppered by a third round of 76 in the toughest conditions of the week, while he carded a closing 73 at Sawgrass after starting the day a shot off the lead.
A brilliant eagle on the 16th kept his chances of catching Rory McIlroy alive, but Fleetwood then went for the pin on the par-three 17th and found the water instead.
“I didn’t think anything of it, I was two behind with two to play and it was the only way I was going to get close to Rory,” added Fleetwood, who was fourth and second in the last two US Opens. “I am always going to play to win.
“Not that golf will ever define me as a person, but I’m never going to look back on my career and say oh I finished third in the Players or I finished top five in the Masters and made a couple of nice pars on the last to finish top five.
Tommy Fleetwood â not out of it yet! He's got three feet for eagle on the 16th to get to 14-under.pic.twitter.com/g6p0ZuzIdc— GOLFTV (@GOLFTV) March 17, 2019
“That’s probably something I’ll never say to my kids or grandkids. That’s not something to be that proud of.
“Winning is what it’s all about, winning big tournaments. I want to win them, not for a financial standpoint or anything. It would just be nice to have on my resume. Second or sixth or seventh makes a difference to your bank account and it won’t make a difference to how you see anything else.”