Rolex Series

A day makes all the difference for Fleetwood

Two time champion Tommy Fleetwood staged a remarkable recovery on the second day of the 2021 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship to propel himself into contention.

Tommy Fleetwood

The Englishman got off to a slow start in testing afternoon conditions on Thursday, carding two bogeys, one double bogey and a solitary birdie in his first ten holes before play was suspended due to fading light in the evening.

But it was a completely different story on Friday morning as the 2017 and 2018 champion closed his first round of the 2021 Race to Dubai season with four birdies in his last seven holes to get to one under par, before producing a bogey free 67 in round two to head into the weekend on six under par.

After beginning his second round with a birdie at the long tenth, Fleetwood picked up further shots at the 12th and 18th to turn in 33.

Fleetwood then holed his nine foot birdie putt at the par five second to move to five under for the tournament before pulling off a good par save from the fringe at the eighth.

He closed his round with a close range birdie putt on the ninth to move to six under and give himself a great chance over the weekend.

Tommy Fleetwood

This is not the first time Fleetwood has bounced back from a tough start to feature prominently at a Rolex Series event, as he opened his first round at the 2020 Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open with back to back bogeys before going on to shoot four rounds in the 60s and make the play-off, where he was narrowly beaten by Aaron Rai.

Ryder Cup star Fleetwood's performance on Friday further enhances his reputation as a Rolex Series specialist, having produced top ten finishes in five of his last six starts at the European Tour's premier events.

The 30-year-old is also the most under par player in Rolex Series history, playing 80 rounds in 181 under par prior to this week's tournament.

Speaking about the difference between the first two days, Fleetwood said: "I slept on it and that clearly made a difference.

"Yesterday I struggled. I walked off and sat there last night, talked to Fino (caddie Ian Finnis) and Thommo (coach Alan Thompson), and I think I just forced it a little bit.

"It was really windy. You're going out there in tough conditions and I think I tried to force a few golf shots, played in the wind, tried too hard to hit good shots and didn't do the things that we work on, really.

"So that was just something that we spoke about - missing putts, hit a few bad wedges, it was like an all-round bad ten holes.

"Last night I had that five footer for par on the 11th and the hooter went, and I looked at it and looked at Fino and we both just thought 'we'll cut our losses for today, save it and come back tomorrow'.

"And that was probably the best thing we did really. I'll be honest, that probably wasn't going to go in last night - I have a feeling I might have missed it. 

"I slept on it, hit a good putt this morning and then stiffed one on the 12th, and got playing again and got going.

"Today I did things a lot better, did what we discussed in my golf swing and drove it really, really well this afternoon - and that makes such a big difference in the wind.

"I had a really strong flight on my driver and I was driving it really well, hit some great irons, holed out really well and didn't really give anything away, so it was a much better day really."

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