Motivation is rarely a problem for professional golfers when they tee off their competitive year, but for Tommy Fleetwood in the Arabian Desert this week it is fair to presume his mouth will be dry with excitement as he tries to join the legends of the game.
Only four players have ever won the same European Tour event three times in succession and as their identities happen to be Tiger Woods, Sir Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomerie and Ernie Els it is understandable why the Englishman is so keen to make it a hat-trick of Abu Dhabi Championship titles this weekend.
“Yeah, that would be cool wouldn’t it? You’re talking about the cream of the sport, there, players I’ve always looked up to,” Fleetwood said.
“Obviously, you never want to get ahead of yourself, but any time you are being mentioned with names of that caliber you know it could be very special. Tyrrell [Hatton] came close at the Dunhill [Links] to emulating them and that shows how hard it is. Well, it’s no surprise is it? Winning any Tour event once is hard enough.”
Hatton actually held a five-shot lead in that final round at St Andrews last October, before four bogeys saw him bypassed by Lucas Bjerregaard. If the weight of history became a burden to Hatton on that occasion, his fellow 27-year-old is determined not to put any extra pressure on himself in Wednesday’s first round in the $7m opener that concludes on Saturday.