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Fleetwood in confident mood in Dubai

SOUTHPORT’S Tommy Fleetwood feels he his sharpening up for another big year ahead.
The Formby Hall player is back in early season action this week at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, where China’s Li Haotong is the defending champion.
Fleetwood, one of the stars of Europe’s Ryder Cup win last year, admitted to being a little rusty in his first outing of the year at last week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA, where he struggled on the greens.
For the first time in five months, he finished outside the top 20 in a European Tour event but says he has been practising hard between events, with a particular emphasis on his putting game.
Fleetwood, who turned 28 on Saturday, is also getting used to new clubs after Nike’s decision to drop out of the golf equipment market, trying out TaylorMade irons bearing Tiger Woods’ initials in Abu Dhabi.
The 2017 Race to Dubai champion said: “I’m enjoying practising more and more now. I’m getting into the swing of things for the year. Last week was a little bit rusty and things weren’t great.”
The world number 14, who is looking to be a winner on Tour for the third successive season, added: “I feel like my game is much better than last week. I came here on Sunday to do some work on my putting, which clearly needed some work, and that’s getting better.”
Fleetwood, who was the defending champion in Abu Dhabi last week, narrowly avoided missing his first cut of the year before finishing 42nd.
He added: “Overall, I feel sharp. Last week, I was a little flat at times but I was trying my hardest. It just could have been better on the golf course.”
Fleetwood is looking forward to a return to a course he enjoys at Emirates GC, having finished tied sixth 12 months ago: “Everybody enjoys coming to Dubai, not just for the golf. As we get to come here so often – two, three times a year – everybody feels at home. When you travel around the world so much, it is nice to have a few comforts that you get used to.”
The golfer, who started his journey at his local municipal course in Southport, saw his stock rise even further during 2018 as he notched up another tournament win and added 11 top ten finishes around the world.
He said: “2017 was a big rise for me. 2018 was still rising but kind of consolidating my position in the world rankings. This year, there’s still things I need to do in my game. If I just focus on areas of my game I want to improve that will make me the golfer I kind of envision of in a few years’ time, then I will stick to that and hopefully that will press me in the right direction.”