Tommy Fleet­wood Europe’s new hero

Post - - SPORT - RICHARD MARS­DEN

EUROPE’S ju­bi­lant golfers cel­e­brated with their wives and girl­friends yes­ter­day af­ter they routed the US in the Ry­der Cup.

Huge cheers broke out from 60 000 spec­ta­tors in Paris as they re­claimed the tro­phy they lost to the Amer­i­cans two years ago.

Bri­tish he­roes in­clud­ing Rory McIl­roy and Ian Poul­ter were mobbed by fans and team­mates as US vet­eran Phil Mick­el­son con­ceded the game 17½ to 10½.

The play­ers were joined on the fair­way by their part­ners, with Span­ish stal­wart Ser­gio Gar­cia in tears as he em­braced wife An­gela and Ital­ian Francesco Moli­nari kiss­ing his wife, Valentina.

Among those be­ing car­ried away on fans’ shoul­ders in Paris was golf’s new­est hero – 27-year-old Bri­ton Tommy Fleet­wood. The long-haired Merseysider started the tour­na­ment a rel­a­tive un­known. That all changed when he be­came the com­pe­ti­tion’s first debu­tant to win his first four matches.

He said: “I’m a lit­tle bit emo­tional right now. I’m just glad we’ve done our job for the team. We’ve had a great time.”

Turn­around

But as he em­braced his wife, Clare Craig, one-year-old son Frankie, step­sons Os­car and Mo, 10 and 11, and fa­ther Peter and mother Sue, he was com­plet­ing a remarkable turn­around.

Two years ago Fleet­wood was strug­gling, hav­ing fallen out of golf ’s top 180 in the midst of a long los­ing streak he said was “killing my game off”.

He cred­its his wife with sav­ing his ca­reer. He met the sports man­ager, who is in her 40s, as he was strug­gling to make his mark on the game and in 2015 she started to rep­re­sent him.

He is now ranked 12th in the world and the cou­ple live in a £1mil­lion (R18m) home in the Cheshire coun­try­side.

They mar­ried in the Ba­hamas in De­cem­ber while Fleet­wood com­peted in the Hero World Chal­lenge, hosted by his own golf­ing hero, Tiger Woods.

Speak­ing re­cently about their pro­fes­sional re­la­tion­ship, he said: “It works very well. I do as I’m told when needed to. Luck­ily for us, we get on so well.”

De­spite his new­found suc­cess, friends and neigh­bours where he grew up in South­port be­lieve Fleet­wood won’t lose touch with his roots.

One, who asked not to be named, said: “Tommy is a re­ally nice lad just like his par­ents and he’ll still play a round of golf with any­one de­spite his fame.”

His fa­ther, Pete, drinks in The Har­bour Bar, near the fam­ily home.

Land­lord Ged Bran­nan said: “The fam­ily are re­ally down-to-earth with no airs and graces.”

Fleet­wood’s first coach, Nor­man Mar­shall, who taught him from the age of six to 11, has tipped him to reach the very top.

Mar­shall, 49, who still teaches at Formby Hall golf course, said: “His tech­nique is per­fec­tion.

“He has nerves of steel and doesn’t hit many way­ward shots. I think he’s ready to win a ma­jor.”

Mar­shall said Fleet­wood still turned up at Formby Hall and helped train young­sters.

“We have a ma­jor star who will join in with all the classes and kids’ games. It’s un­be­liev­able.” – Daily Mail

PIC­TURE: EPA/AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY (ANA)

Tommy Fleet­wood of Eng­land plays a shot on the 1st tee dur­ing the Ry­der Cup 2018 at The Golf Na­tional in Guyan­court, near Paris, France, last week.

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