Tommy Fleetwood says 'getting goosebumps' in golf is all down to fans

Ryder Cup star says it’s time for players to connect better with people who matter most in game

Tommy Fleetwood has urged the world’s top players to recall “things that give you goosebumps and make you emotional” as golf embarks on a mission to reconnect with the people who matter the most - fans.

In the build up to this week’s 50th anniversary of The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, it almost seems as though there has been a lightbulb moment in the game.

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In his hour-long chat with the media on Tuesday, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan used the word “fans” 24 times as it finally seemed that notice was being paid to them as recent TV figures indicate people have become sick of the sport having been dominated by talk of money over the past two years.

Tommy Fleetwood celebrates with fans after helping Europe win the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in Paris. Picture: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images.Tommy Fleetwood celebrates with fans after helping Europe win the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in Paris. Picture: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images.
Tommy Fleetwood celebrates with fans after helping Europe win the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in Paris. Picture: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images.

“Yeah, I think so,” said Fleetwood in reply to being asked if it was right that more attention needs to be paid to the fans. “Being brutally honest and talking about myself from a personal level, I would say that us as golfers we get so carried away about chasing our career through no massive fault of our own.

“It wouldn’t necessarily come to the front of my mind all the time what is going on with the fans. I’m always thinking about where is the best place for me to get better, what’s the right schedule for me, how do I play in the majors and you got lost in your world of trying to get the most out of your career.

“I actually listened to something earlier this year about fans and it made complete sense. People who watch the game, people who pay money to come to the game and people who take it up - it’s all part of what we do. It’s a huge part of it and very important.

“Nobody really had positive things to say about that Covid time when we were playing and there was no fans and it just shows what a huge part they play in the moments that we deem as the best ones of our career, the fans are always a big part of that. I feel most of us do a great job of the fan interaction when we are here at a tournament, but maybe on the grander scale you miss that.”

Referring to the fact the likes of Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Cameron Smith are all now LIV Golf players, the Englishman added: “You look at it now and the best players aren’t playing together and that’s something that’s missing. Golf is obviously divided and I’d say it’s not having a very positive effect worldwide on fans’ perspective and things like that. I’d say that on a bigger scale is something that we could do with putting right.”

Fleetwood created one of the game’s best images in recent years as he celebrated with fans after Europe’s win in the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in Paris. “I think I’ve been lucky to always have a great connection with people and they’ve always been so supportive and so kind to me,” he said. “It means a lot, it really does.

“Whether it be the Ryder Cup, hosting the British Masters (as he did at Hillside in 2019), The Open last year being on the first tee at Hoylake and coming down the 18th, the things that give you goosebumps and make you emotional, it’s all because of the fans. You don’t picture anything without hearing that noise or seeing all those thousands of people watching. They are a massive aspect.”

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Sandy Lyle and Rory McIlroy are the only British and Irish players to have experienced the joy of winning The Players Championship, the former creating history in 1987 before the latter matched his feat as recently as 2019.

“Surprising really,” said Fleetwood of that lack of success. “I wouldn’t say it’s down to the golf course. I mean, if there’s ever been a better golf course for Nick Faldo. If you look at Monty, Westwood, there’s a ton of golfers who are superb players and superb shot-shapers who could have done well round here. I don’t know really why that’s been, but maybe it’s three after this week.”

If it’s him, the 33-year-old won’t be bothered by some people claiming this edtiion is a diluted version due to the absence of the likes of Masters champion Rahm and current PGA title holder Koepka. “No. If I won The Players and it was just me in the field, I’d be perfectly happy,” insisted Fleetwood.

“Tournaments like last week (the Arnold Palmer Invitational), The Players Championship, BMW at Wentworth, you could rattle off tons of events, a bunch of us as golfers have dreamt about playing in them as kids and winning them. I don’t think who is playing in them takes anything away from those achievements that you’ve fought for and practised for all your life.

“You want to be challenging your game against the best players in the world, but for us if we win one of these tournaments I’m not going to put in the trophy cabinet and be worried about a few players missing.”

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