Fleetwood focused on the big prizes

Tommy Fleetwood may be starting his European Tour season at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA but he already has one eye on lifting the Harry Vardon Trophy at the end of it.

Tommy Fleetwood

The Englishman's victory at this event in 2017 proved to be the springboard to him winning the Race to Dubai in the same season that he claimed his maiden Rolex Series triumph at the Open de France.

Since being crowned Europe's Number One, he has finished third and second on the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex, each time heading into the final event of the season with a chance to win the big prize.

A third victory at Abu Dhabi Golf Club would make Fleetwood a three time Rolex Series winner, and he knows the blue riband events will be key if he is to be Europe's best again.

"Race to Dubai is always going to be something that we strive for," he said. "I think playing sort of both sides, PGA and European Tour, you know straightaway that the only way you can win the Race to Dubai is by competing in the biggest events and doing well in those events.

Tommy Fleetwood

"So that's what I've got to do. The last three years, coming into that last event with a chance of winning it all, I think is very special.

"It's something that I've been very grateful for and I've loved every minute of it when it gets to the last event. So fingers crossed, work hard, play well and do it again."

Fleetwood's win at the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player in November was his first triumph since he lifted the trophy here in Abu Dhabi for the second consecutive year in 2018.

And while he was happy to get over the line again, he was pleased with his play and what he learned in the nearly two years between those wins.

"You put so much emphasis on what you don't have, and I hadn't won a tournament for however long it had been," he said. "It was like a weight off my shoulders but I knew it shouldn't have been in a way.

Tommy Fleetwood

"I had done so many good things but at times people had played better than me, or maybe a couple of times I may have given it away, and that played a big part in winning because I had learned from the bad experiences."

He has had very few bad experiences in Abu Dhabi in recent years and Fleetwood feels the start of the Desert Swing on a happy hunting ground is the perfect way to kick off his year.

"I think as an event, when so many people are starting the year out, it is pretty much the best way to start the year," he said. "I've always enjoyed it. I've always thought it throws you in at the deep end, a really tough test. 

"If you've been home for a few months and you come out here - the hotel is amazing, you feel great.

"Any time you win, there's always a bit of luck involved. I've been lucky enough to have a couple of really good years here and I think it's started, those two years in particular, the ones that I did win here, sort of catapulted me on for the rest of the year."

Read next