How Tommy Fleetwood can go from fancied to feared in 2020

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Tommy Fleetwood pushed a drive right on the 16th, his seventh hole of the day, and looked notably disappointed. He can be anywhere between six and ten seconds on his follow through, watching the ball as it sails through the sky.

Its indicative of a tough first day at the Dubai Desert Classic but his response to it also points to why he is one of the best players in the world.

The 29-year-old came into the Desert Classic on the back of a tied for second finish in Abu Dhabi last week, adding to his win in Sun City and second at Jumeirah Golf Estates in November.

It is a glittering run of recent form that is unmatched, especially for such a consistent player, who has not missed a cut since the French Open in July 2018. A run of 43 events.

The Englishman loves desert conditions and has performed strongly on the Majlis course over the years, sharing sixth in 2018 and finishing in a tie for 16th in 2019. Solid results that speak volumes of his vast talents.

But like other players in the field in Dubai this week, world number ten Fleetwood has yet to taste major success. He has come close though, always showing signs that his promising talents are up there with the elite of the game.

He leaped to fourth at the 2017 US Open and ended that year with Race to Dubai victory. Then in 2018, he finished second at the US Open after a stunning final round 63 and became a central figure in Europe’s Ryder Cup triumph.

Last season, he won once, finished runner-up twice and recorded an additional six top-10s from 28 worldwide starts. Included in that was second at the Open in Portrush, when he finished six-shots behind winner Shane Lowry.

The point is, he tends to turn up for the marquee events.

In a relatively short time, his game has adapted to the toughest courses in the world – and the absolute stellar best in terms of competition. On the ranking front, he has excelled also, moving from 99 in the globe four years ago to number ten in the early parts of 2020.

He possesses an all round game, hitting a lot of fairways and his putting is generally on song. Facets of the game that should steer him towards the sharp end of the leaderboard, with a bit of luck and consistency.

To underline his class, he has ranked third, second, fourth and third in stroke average on the European Tour since 2017. For greens in regulation, he has been equally formidable, sitting first, first, fourth and fourth on the stats sheet over the last four seasons.

His sharp iron play is also improving and some more time on the putting green should propel him to more elevated heights on the big stage.

He is one of the favourites to enjoy his major breakthrough soon. It won’t be easy, though. If it was, every player would be atop the podium holding those four coveted trophies. But that talent is there, that mental game and those immense ball-striking skills to be contending on the final day of big tournaments.

Another strong performance in Dubai this weekend should hopefully keep building on what will be a tantalising 2020 campaign, and one that could potentially write his name into the record books.

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