Tommy Fleetwood showed the mettle of a man for the future as he coolly carded a 69 in the final round of the South African Open Championship at Serengeti Golf and Wildlife Estate to secure his full European Tour playing card for 2013.
The young Englishman started the day in a tie for 13th, and, under extraordinary pressures, required a strong finish (in the top 27 as it worked eventually) in the final round to achieve his ultimate goal. However, his ball-striking never faltered, and he wrapped it up quite comfortably in the end by finishing joint sixth to leave him enormously relieved.
“It feels better than a win pretty much! It was probably the most stressful four days of my life I think. But I played great today - I think I hit 17 greens which under any circumstances is pretty good. I’m absolutely made up, honestly. It’s unbelievable,” he said.
Fleetwood served his time on the European Challenge Tour before this year, topping the Rankings in 2011, and is grateful for the experience he gained there. But the 21 year-old is understandably ecstatic to stay on the grand stage.
“Today, it was the difference between going back to the Challenge Tour or staying on the best Tour in the world. It’s a hard, grafting year on the Challenge Tour, as good as it is, it’s very tough. The European Tour is a much better lifestyle I must say. I’m just made up, it’s just great to have a job next year,” he said.
With his livelihood very much on the line, Fleetwood prevailed and ensured that he is right where he wants to be next year.
Earlier in the day Andrew Dodt secured his playing privileges for the new season with a joint 37th place finish in the UBS Hong Kong Open lifting him from 122nd and into 117th place. Richard Bland also did enough to keep his card, his joint 69th place finish earning him €2,913 which was just enough to lift him above Tjaart Van der Walt.
It was an anxious wait for those in the Far East as they waited for the drama to unfold in South Africa and when Fleetwood came through it was the South African Van der Walt who slipped out of those exempt for The 2013 European Tour season and missed out by the narrowest of margins, with Rhys Davies also dropping out of the top 119 over weekend.