Tommy Fleetwood on Thursday said home advantage could help Europe upset the United States in this month’s Ryder Cup, insisting the hosts won’t be intimidated by the likes of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
The Englishman said vociferous crowds and a familiar course at Le Golf National, near Paris, would boost Europe’s bid to regain the trophy after their drubbing at Hazeltine in 2016.
And Fleetwood, a Ryder Cup debutant who is playing his first season on America’s PGA Tour, said there would be little fear factor when it comes to facing Woods and Mickelson, who have 19 major titles between them.
“Most of us guys on the European team play on the same tournaments against Phil and Tiger week in, week out at the moment,” Fleetwood told a teleconference after confirming his appearance at November’s Hong Kong Open.
“You can’t deny that they’re the best golfers ever and they always will be. But when you tee it up you’re just playing another golfer, it doesn’t matter who it is.”
“It will help their team in an experience sense, because they’ve played so many Ryder Cups, but it will make no difference to us,” added the world number 12.
Woods and Mickelson headline a formidable American team which boasts three of this year’s four major victories and six of the world’s top 10.
But Europe include newly crowned world number one Justin Rose, Open champion Francesco Molinari and an in-form Rory McIlroy, who has four majors to his name.
Paul Casey, last year’s Masters winner Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson and Ryder Cup specialist Ian Poulter were captain Thomas Bjorn’s four wildcard picks.
“There’s been a lot of talk how good the American side is and there’s no doubt it, they’ve got an unbelievable team,” said Fleetwood, who was second at this year’s US Open and won the European Tour’s 2017 Race to Dubai.
“But I think at the same time Europe has too. I honestly think it could be one of the best Ryder Cups ever… I fancy our chances, I really do.”
Fleetwood, one of the big names at the November 22-25 Hong Kong Open, also spoke in support of the city’s colonial-era Fanling course, which is under threat of development.
“I think it would be something horrible to happen to a golf course that’s got so much history,” he said.
“There’s so many courses that aren’t really standing the test of time but this golf course holds up. I think it would be a massive blow to golf in general.”
© Agence France-Presse (Additional Edits By Oisin McQueirns)