‘We picked the right shot’: Tommy Fleetwood stands by decision that led to disastrous 18th-hole water ball

March 2, 2020

Tommy Fleetwood owned up afterwards, but that doesn’t mean it stings any less.

“I think we picked the right shot, 100 percent,” he said. “I just didn’t pull it off.”

Fleetwood was the 54-hole leader at the Honda Classic and led almost the entire front nine on Sunday, but he was battling Sungjae Im, Brendan Steele and Mackenzie Hughes throughout the back nine at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

After Im signed for a four-under 66 three pairings ahead of Fleetwood, the 29-year-old Englishman needed to play the final two holes in two under to match Im’s total of six under. Fleetwood made a 24-footer for birdie on the par-3 17th to get within one with one to play, and on the par-5 18th he put himself in position with a 305-yard drive down the fairway. With 235 yards remaining to the hole, Fleetwood and his caddie, Ian Finnis, had a lengthy chat before hitting their second shot. The 18th green is guarded with several bunkers and has water right, and the pin was stuffed in its usual diabolical right-side location for the Honda’s final round.

“I had 239 to the pin today, but the wind was off the right,” Fleetwood told reporters afterward. “I felt like it was playing shorter, wasn’t hurting today. But there was only one shot really. Honestly, maybe at the time, you think, I had the world left and could have got up and down, but playing for that, I could have easily bailed left, not got up and down and then said, Why did I bail out left? So you pick your shot and you hit it, and that’s it.”

Fleetwood hit a five-wood but over-cut it, and it found the water right of the green. He dropped, wedged on and made bogey for 71, which dropped him into solo third place, two behind Im. Fleetwood will jump from 12th to 10th in the Official World Golf Ranking after the Honda, although he’s still looking for his first PGA Tour victory. He’s won five times on the European Tour, but he’s now 0 for 64 on the PGA Tour.

“I hit a bad shot,” he said. “Could have been a great shot, but actually as bad as it was, it could have landed three yards left and been on the edge of the green and I’d have had a chance. It is what it is. I was really enjoying the moment coming down there with a chance to win. I still had a chance to actually eagle it or birdie it and get in a playoff, and it just didn’t happen. But one bad shot, and that’s it.”

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