I was amazed by something that Tommy Fleetwood said in January after he ended a wait of more than three years for his second European Tour title at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
Fleetwood revealed that he hadn’t played any golf at all for a month over Christmas. Sometimes that can free your mind and make you go back to basics, though, and it clearly worked well for him.
Since then he has finished runner-up twice, including at the Shenzhen International in China on Sunday, where he lost to Austrian Bernd Wiesberger in a play-off.
Fleetwood will be disappointed to have missed out on the win but there are lots of positives for him to take away.
His final round of 63, which featured seven birdies, an eagle and no bogies, was incredible. Now he knows he is capable of that it will give him greater belief when starting the last day three or four shots behind the leader.
He is up to No29 in the world, having started the year at No99, and is second in the Race To Dubai, only behind Sergio Garcia, who spent Sunday making an appearance at his beloved Real Madrid for their El Clasico fixture against Barcelona.
Fleetwood has always been a great wee player and impressed me when he was on my British and Irish team at the Seve Trophy four years ago. He has all the attributes and just seems to be getting better.
English golf has never been stronger
The Merseysider is one of several players from this country currently making waves. Lee Westwood was the only Englishman in the world’s top 100 as recently as 2001; now there are 12, with Fleetwood among seven in the top 50. Golf in England has never been stronger.
Ross Fisher, at No45, is another. He missed out on joining Fleetwood and Wiesberger in the play-off by bogeying the last, but now has three top-five finishes in his last four events so he looks like one to watch in the run-up to next month’s PGA Championship at Wentworth.
Wiesberger and Chappell on up
It was a big win in the end for Wiesberger, who parred the last 11 holes but came through a play-off for the first time in four attempts, so that’s a monkey off his back.
He’s a big, strong player who seems to have a great attitude and is on the up. A victory of this significance – in prize money and ranking points and against a good field – can only spur him on.
Things are also looking up for Kevin Chappell, who won his first PGA Tour title on his 180th start at the Texas Open at the weekend. He looked like the winner all day and this could open the floodgates.
One Englishman facing tougher times is Ian Poulter after his missed cut in Texas cost him his tour card.
His injury problems have come at a bad time for him but, at 41, he still has time to turn it around. He has the opportunity to rebuild in Europe and it will be interesting to see how he gets on.