The weather is warming, birds are chirping, spring has sprung. That can only mean one thing: The Masters is just around the corner. Leading up to the tournament, we are going to be profiling many of the competitors here at Jock MKT and kicking off our coverage today is Tommy Fleetwood.
Fleetwood is one of the more likable players on the PGA Tour and has enjoyed a good bit of success. Despite his generally strong play, surprisingly he has yet to earn a PGA tour win. He turned pro at just 19 years old in Europe and has enjoyed tremendous success across the pond. Fleetwood is a five time European Tour Winner with four of those coming since the start of 2017. He also was a key component of Europe’s 2018 Ryder Cup victory in his first ever appearance in the tournament. With a bountiful trophy case, Fleetwood has earned top 10 status in the world ranking. Yet he is the only member of the top 20 without a PGA Tour victory under his belt.
Not to say he has not been close. In some cases, painfully, excruciatingly close, with two second place finishes in majors. Fleetwood finished the 2018 US Open just one stroke behind winner Brooks Koepka after a furious Sunday surge. Fleetwood tied the championship’s single round scoring record with a 63 on the final day, but to no avail.
Just last week, Fleetwood was once again knocking on the door of his first PGA Tour victory at the Honda Classic. He led by 1 stroke going into Sunday before uneven play knocked him down the leaderboard. Nevertheless, Fleetwood still had an opportunity to force a playoff with a birdie on the 72nd hole. Standing on the fairway of 18, Fleetwood made a bold play and decided to use his 5-wood for the 235 yard approach. Struck too well, the ball sailed into the water beyond the pin, Fleetwood bogeyed, and Sungjae Im took the title beating Fleetwood to his first PGA tour victory.
Fleetwood first competed at the Masters in 2017, disappointing with a 78 in his first round and eventually missing the cut, though he has not missed a cut in a major tournament since. He fared far better each of the last two years, but was hamstrung by a pair of poor Sunday performances. Coincidentally, twin final round 74s sunk his top 10 aspirations placing 17th and 36th in 2018 and 2019 respectively. He finished 11 strokes off the lead each year.
Heading into Augusta for a fourth time, Fleetwood finds himself in very good form. His runner-up finish at Honda was his third consecutive top-5 on the Florida Swing dating back to last year. Historically better off the tee than on the green, Fleetwood has improved his driving accuracy in each of his last three contests. More importantly, his .561 Strokes Gained Putting at the Honda Classic was his highest total since the 2019 Travelers Championship. Hopefully, this will hold at Augusta. DataGolf’s Course Fit tool (screenshot below) tells us that driving distance is more important there than at ‘the average’ PGA course while driving accuracy is substantially less crucial. Luckily Fleetwood sports a top 25 ranking on the PGA tour in driving distance, but ranks only 92nd for driving accuracy, so his shortcomings shouldn’t play as big a role this week.
Fleetwood is gaining momentum and the signs are pointing toward a strong performance at The Masters. It’s only a matter of time before he secures his first PGA victory, so why not at Augusta?