Tommy Fleetwood is good at golf. In fact, Tommy Fleetwood is so good at golf that fans of the sport have begun to wonder why he hasn’t stamped his authority on the PGA Tour. His recent record consists of five top tens in his last six starts, including a T10 at The Open and T5 at the US Open that finished with a scintillating round of 63. There have been hard-luck stories along the way, too: losing in a playoff at the Canadian Open after Nick Taylor sank a 72-foot eagle putt and finishing one shot out of the playoff at the FedEx St Jude.

Such are his standards, he has become the owner of a most unusual feat. He is the first player in PGA Tour history to surpass $20m in official career earnings without a win, racking up 22 top-five finishes in the process. But the 32 year old from Southport, Lancashire, remains undeterred. Probability alone says his time is right around the corner. And after that? Well, London buses come to mind…

Fleetwood’s is a game of model consistency that revolves around one of the finest swings in golf, more akin to a Roger Federer forehand than a Rory McIlroy swipe, and a stoic mentality that allows him to ride the tumultuous turns of elite golf better than most. It’s a wicked combination that makes him a fearsome competitor in matchplay golf, which brings us neatly around to the not-so insignificant matter of the Ryder Cup, hosted at the Marco Simone Golf Club in Guidonia Montecelio near Rome later this month.

Team Europe come into the event with a chip on their shoulder after a 19-9 spanking at the hands of USA in 2021 – the largest margin of defeat in Ryder Cup history – but two years is a long time in golf and Fleetwood and his team mates are ready for redemption.

We sit down with the world number 15 to find out how preparations are going…

Tommy Fleetwood TAG Heuer golf ambassador talks Ryder Cup 2023
Tommy Fleetwood TAG Heuer golf ambassador talks Ryder Cup 2023

SM: You’re in fantastic form at the moment with five top tens from six starts. Why do you think you’re playing so well at the moment?

TF: I think overall it’s been a prolonged period of consistently doing the right things. If you look at the buildup from 2021 to now, even when I wasn’t playing particularly great, I knew I was doing a lot of things well and the results would come. I won towards the end of 2022 and then this year’s been the same, really. It’s been an accumulative process with plenty of good results, but there’s still a lot to improve on. Recently I would say that the way I’ve played it has been better than the end results just due to a couple of holes here and there. But it’s been great to be at the right end of the leaderboard most weeks.

SM: There’s been a few near misses of late and I know The Open hurt the most. Is it just about trusting the process and using those experiences going forward?

TF: Yeah, I think so. First of all, the week was amazing from so many aspects. I can play back the whole week in my head and the shots I was hitting. I was so nervous on Thursday starting off but once I got into the rhythm of the round, I played really, really well.

And then I felt like Friday was almost the most difficult day, because it was important to back that first round up. I actually played very well, I had to scramble a bit at the end, but that was a great day. And then going out in the final group on Saturday, I actually felt really, really comfortable all weekend. The crowd was amazing and there’s a million positives to take from the week. I was proud of how I played and how I felt in certain situations, but obviously it hurt a lot not to win. But I think, you know, going back to your dreams and goals, it’s great to have something that hurt so much that I didn’t manage to achieve it.

I felt so down and upset after that Sunday round, but you’ve got to turn it into a positive, I had a great time chasing that dream throughout the week, and the fact that I actually feel like I’m getting closer to that goal as well, having been in contention for most of Saturday and Sunday, that’s really important. If you’re going to just look at the negatives of what happened, then you’re just not going to get anywhere. It’s important to remember how this feels so that the next time that I’m in that situation, which is hopefully in a year’s time, I’m that bit more prepared. And you never know. It might be my time then.

I love the Ryder Cup. All 12 of you that play, you have a bond that you share forever

SM: I’m sure you already have one eye firmly set on the Ryder Cup in late September. In two appearances, you’ve experienced the highs and the lows, are you excited to compete again?

TF: Oh, definitely. I think when the team stood on the 18th Green two years ago in Whistling Straits, we all looked at each other – you know, we’d just been absolutely hammered by Team USA – and there was this silent agreement that we all wanted to be back in two years time, our games in great shape, to make amends and feel that winning feeling again. Winning the Ryder Cup back as a team. So I think it’s been a goal for all of us.

I love the Ryder Cup. All 12 of you that play – the captain, the vice captains – you all have a bond that you share forever really. Just being in those pressurised situations altogether and fighting for one another, it leaves a lasting mark. But then, you know, also playing with somebody out there, being on the course, just the two of you and your caddies, that definitely stays with you as well. It’s such a cool experience for us all. It really is.

The excitement is definitely building, and I think the team looks really, really good. The locker room and team room on that European side is the best place you’ll ever be in golf. It’s amazing. So just getting back out there, being part of Team Europe, I can’t wait.

SM: Have you spoken as a team a lot this year? Can you tell us much about what’s going on behind the scenes?

TF: Luke [Donald] has been really good. He’s obviously still playing, but he’s been very busy with the Ryder Cup stuff and he’s always talking to players, calling us on the phone, having lunch and dinners with us.

As much as we’ve got our individual efforts going on in our careers, I think this team can’t help but talk about the Ryder Cup because it’s such a huge thing. There’s been a lot going on throughout the year, and I think everybody is pretty prepared. Luke and the vice captains seem to have been covering every detail in a really thorough way and you can feel their passion. As a player, it’s really comforting knowing everything is in place.

You go back to that team from two years ago and there’s a massive core of the players that are going to be competing again. We’re a close unit and we’re ready to go.

Tommy Fleetwood TAG Heuer golf ambassador talks Ryder Cup 2023

SM: It certainly feels like Team Europe is rounding into form at the right time while Team USA is likely to be very different to the team that you faced at Whistling Straits. Is that a potential edge?

TF: Honestly, I can’t even remember one conversation that we’ve had about the American team. I think we’re very focused on ourselves, but it’s interesting. The last two or three Ryder cups, the Team USA has been so, so strong and you look at American golf in general, which is still unbelievably strong, but two years is such a long time. You look at their team from the last Ryder Cup and I think everybody thought that it would be almost the exact same 12 guys because they were so strong. But over the last few months that’s changed quite dramatically.

It’ll be good to see who makes their team, and I think it’s going to be really interesting to see who their six picks are. It seems like Captain Zach Johnson has got a lot of thinking to do with potential picks with so many of their guys to choose from.

SM: For Team Europe, there are a few rookies who’ve thrown their hat into the ring in recent months, players like Ludvig Aberg and Sepp Straka. From your perspective, is there anyone that you have your eye on?

TF: Not any of the guys in particular. I think all you want from rookies is guys that are playing well and are very confident at the time – that’s the essential part in rookies. I go back to Paris in 2018 and I think the rookies that we had on that team were Jon Rahm, Alex Norén, Thorbjørn Olesen, and myself. It was a bunch of guys that were already pretty experienced, but also very competent in most situations. It makes such a big difference to have rookies like that. The same goes for Team USA. I mean, this year, you look at Wyndham Clark and Brian Harman, they’re going to be two rookies but they’re both major champions. It’s so important to have guys that are confident when they come out and play.

I think some guys have shown a lot of form for Europe. You look at Sepp Straka, he’s been playing great. Bob MacIntyre is qualifying for the team at the moment, having finished second in his home Open in Scotland, and somebody like Adrian Meronk who’s been playing great all year and he’s won on Marco Simone. We definitely have exciting strong rookies again, which is going to be so crucial.

After the last Ryder Cup, there was this silent agreement that we would make amends

SM: It’s perfectly poised at the moment, that’s for sure. What can you tell us about how the golf course, Marco Simone, will play?

TF: Well, when you have a home Ryder Cup, you want to set it up however much you can in your favour, which, I think, is getting harder and harder with the standard of all the world’s best golfers now. But I played the course during the Italian Open and played very, very well. It’ll look great on TV with the raised tees hitting down into the fairways.

It’ll be good to see how we can set it up and get an advantage for Europe. It makes a huge difference if you can drive it well around Marco Simone and put it in play a lot. It’s similar to Le Golf National in that sense. So I think we’ll have the rough thick and put the emphasis on driver. It really can play a massive part in breaking that golf course down.

SM: Has the ribbing started yet between Team Europe and Team USA? Has anyone started firing off any jokes on Tour?

TF: No, I think everybody’s still focused on making the teams before we start ripping anyone, so you don’t want to push your luck too much. In a funny little way, I think everybody understands what an amazing opportunity and time it is in your career. I think anybody that has potential of making either team, I actually think I would much rather support them. Even on the American side, you know, it’s such a cool thing. I won’t be doing much supporting when the Ryder Cup comes around, but I think knowing what a special tournament is and an opportunity in your career, I think you would want that for everyone. We’ll let the ribbing start after that.

Tommy Fleetwood TAG Heuer golf ambassador talks Ryder Cup 2023
Tommy Fleetwood TAG Heuer golf ambassador talks Ryder Cup 2023

SM: Tell me more about the preparation. Are you mindful of who you are playing practice rounds with on a weekly basis or do you wait captain’s orders?

TF: I think what’s been one of the clearest things over the last two Ryder Cups that I’ve played in is the way that the captains want to talk about your schedule leading up to the Ryder Cup, or even the schedule of the tours that are leading up to the Ryder Cup.

Whenever we play a major, you put those four events down at the start of the year and you work your schedule around those and you decide what’s the best way that you’re going to perform at those majors. I think the captains and everybody involved in a Ryder Cup are very mindful of your schedule in the same way as the majors, because I actually think freshness is a huge part of success. You’re potentially playing five rounds over the course of three days in a lot of pressure. So, feeling fit and ready to go, that’s a big thing.

I think you probably get an idea of some practice rounds from March onwards, probably you’ll see guys playing together. I would say some of us will obviously just play practice rounds with those guys anyway because we’re close, but then you might get a nudge from Luke or some of the vice captains in a potential pairing, both statistically and personality wise that you might want to start spending a bit more time with such-and-such that you’ve not done before. There’s definitely things that go on throughout the year that seamlessly work into whatever you’re doing.

But they all play a part in your performance when you get to the Ryder Cup. Again, a real positive for Europe is that we’ve got so many players from the last team and the last two years that are going to be playing again. So there’s that known factor that we’ve all been there and played together and everything, and that takes a bit of weight off.

SM: I’m sure you are sworn to secrecy, but have you been given one of those nudges around who you might be wanting to spend some more time with?

TF: I mean, nobody that I wouldn’t spend a lot of time with anyway, but yeah, you could say we know the options and the possibilities of partnerships and things like that. But yeah, for me, it’s nobody that I wouldn’t be spending all my time with anyway.

Tommy Fleetwood wears the TAG Heuer Connected Golf E4 smart watch. For more information, see