Tommy Fleetwood ready to face Tiger Woods

April 05, 2018

The 2017 Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood is relishing the opportunity to tee it up alongside the resurgent four-time Masters Tournament winner Tiger Woods, after the Englishman was drawn with the American golfing legend for the first two rounds of the opening Major of the season at Augusta National.

“The first real Masters I watched was 1997, when Tiger won his first. A few years on and I get to play with him and I don’t think you can get a better draw than Tiger at the Masters, especially with what’s going on in golf at the moment."

Tommy Fleetwood ready to face Tiger Woods, © Getty Images

“All that said, I’m only bothered about me. Whatever he does is not my problem, I’ve got to get on with my own stuff. But it doesn’t get much better than that. It’s very cool."

The 27 year old will tee it up alongside the 14-time Major winner and Australian Marc Leishman with all eyes on Woods after his recent return to form following years of well-documented injury problems.

“He was in his pomp when I was growing up. There was something about this week where I thought to myself, for some reason, I’m going to get Tiger Woods this week. I walked to the putting green at about 11 o’clock today and it was the biggest mass of people you could see imagine around here, just to see him and Phil walking off the 18th green so you get an idea of how busy it’s going to be."

“As well as concentrating on my stuff I’ll get to watch him up close and see what he does and there’s nothing better than that.”

Of course, Fleetwood is in a fine run of form himself having successfully defended his Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA title in January while his worst European Tour finish in five starts this season is a share of 17th place.

“My game feels good at the moment. I feel like I’ve been preparing for quite a while. My first Masters was last year and I didn’t see too much sunshine so it’s nice to see the course without a cloud in the sky and with the shadows. It’s nice to have that buzz around it. It’s been lovely so far."

With anticipation over Woods’ return to Augusta at fever pitch, Rory McIlroy incredibly comes into this week under the radar somewhat despite also finding form – returning to the winners’ circle last month following a winless 2017 season - as he chases an historic Grand Slam.

“I feel like I'm coming in here in great form and excited to have another chance to try and win this great tournament. I feel like I couldn't come in here with better form. It was great to get a win a couple of weeks ago, and hopefully I can just carry that golf forward for the next few days."

“I'm an avid fan of the history of the game, and I know a win here and what that would mean and where that would put me in history - alongside some of the greatest that have ever played this game - that would be mean an awful lot to me.

“But I have to try and clear my head of that come Thursday morning and go out and play good golf, hit good golf shots, have good course management, hole putts. If you do that enough times, hopefully that score on Sunday evening's the lowest out of all 87 competitors that are here and you walk away with something that you'll have for the rest of your life.”

Sergio Garcia, meanwhile, will defend his title following a life-changing 12 months which included marrying wife Angela before celebrating the birth of his first child Azalea – named after the famous 13th hole at Augusta in a nod to his maiden Major triumph this time last year.

“I'm excited. I'm really excited for many reasons. It's been three amazing days already, starting Sunday. The feel that you get and the reception that you get coming to Augusta as a Masters champion is different.

“I've always been very fortunate with the way that people have treated me all around the world and especially here at Augusta, but now as a Masters champion, it's just a different feeling, it's a different sensation, and it's unbelievable.

“I'm enjoying every minute of it and just hoping that I can go out there and play great again and have a chance of defending a Green Jacket. It was fun to have it for a year, so I would like to extend that if possible.”