Tommy Fleetwood's early East Lothian exit was 'turning point'
The Englishman has a great record on Scottish soil, having landed the Scottish Open Stroke-Play Championship at Murcar Links in 2009 before claiming his first European Tour title in the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles four years later.
But, while he cherishes both those successes, Fleetwood revealed that it was a first-round defeat in the Paul Lawrie Match Play at Archerfield Links in 2016 that had sprung to mind as he returned to the home of golf for this week's Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open.
That was partly due to the Rolex Series event being held next door at The Renaissance Club but also because it was the week when Fleetwood, who created Ryder Cup history alongside Francesco Molinari as the first players to win four matches out of four in the 2018 Ryder Cup in France, felt he’d started to turn a corner after almost dropping outside the world’s top 200 earlier that season.
"I was thinking of it while I was travelling over actually," said the 29-year-old Southport man, who was still 142nd in the world at the end of that week but is now sitting 17th. "I got beat by Graeme Storm in the first round.
"But I actually look at that as the turning point when I started coming out of my slump that was for like a year and was well documented. I actually lost that match, but I drove home and thought, I haven't played like that for a year. I didn't miss a shot.
"So Archerfield was a turning point where I got things going on again, and that's a nice little positive and nice memory coming here, which is one people probably wouldn't think about a lot."
Fleetwood, who is making his first Scottish Open appearance since 2016, won't just miss the knowledgeable fans in a tournament being held behind closed doors on the East Lothian coast due to Covid-19 restrictions.
"Personally, I'll miss the odd dog roaming around on the golf course," he said, smiling, having conducted his winner's press conference at Gleneagles seven years ago with his family's canine member at the time sitting at the back of the interview room.
On his hopes for this week, the top-ranked player in the field added: "Every week in golf is a blank canvas. But I am excited about playing here and I do have some great memories in Scotland. The country, the golf courses have always looked fondly upon me for whatever reason."
Fleetwood tied for third in his most recent European Tour outing in the Portugal Masters before suffering the disappointment of a missed cut in the US Open at Winged Foot.
But he said: "While I'm not particularly happy with my form, I feel positive. I'm feeling more optimistic about every practise session I'm having, which is great."
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