Dubai offers Fleetwood last chance to make Augusta Masters cut

What he did not know yesterday is where he needs to finish to ensure his ranking rises sufficiently. He needs to finish in the top 16 on Sunday.
Tommy Fleetwood made a late charge at the DP World Tour Championship but not enough to improve his world ranking by much last month. Kumar Shyam / The National
Tommy Fleetwood made a late charge at the DP World Tour Championship but not enough to improve his world ranking by much last month. Kumar Shyam / The National

DUBAI // Mathematics might not be Tommy Fleetwood’s forte, but the world No 52 golfer is intent on ignoring the integers until after this weekend’s inaugural Dubai Open at the Els Club.

Englishman Fleetwood knows that if he finishes the season on Sunday inside the world’s top 50, he qualifies for next year’s Masters at Augusta National.

What he does not know – or, at least, did not know yesterday – is where he needs to finish at Dubai Sports City to ensure his ranking rises sufficiently.

“I keep hearing people give me all sorts of answers, so I don’t actually know what I have to do,” said Fleetwood, the highest-ranked player in Dubai’s 114-man field.

“At the end of the day, you’ve just got to play the best you can and try to win the tournament. I’ve got a rough idea of what I need to do, but trying to keep that to the back of my mind is going to be the important thing.”

Fleetwood, playing alongside Lee Westwood, finished fourth at last week’s Thailand Golf Championship. That raised his rank from 60th to 52nd.

Now, so long as he finishes inside the top 16 on Sunday in Dubai, his mission is accomplished. However, should he finish tied for 16th or lower, he will watch the April showpiece in Georgia from the sidelines again.

“I actually went to the Masters to watch this year,” he said. “I wanted to [learn] and see what it’s all about, so obviously having to watch it the year before, if I could be playing the next year, it would be great. Hopefully this week can secure it.”

Fleetwood, 23, is not an Asian Tour member, but, alongside the likes of Darren Clarke and David Howell, is one of 15 international players handed sponsor invitations for the Dubai Open. His best finish this season came in Guangdong, where he finished second at the European Tour’s China Open.

“One of my main goals at the start of the year was to finish in the top 50 in the world, and it’s came down to the last event and I’ve obviously got a chance to do it,” said Fleetwood, who started the season ranked 89th. “I was trying to do it last week, so have got one more chance.”

Fleetwood watched from close quarters in Thailand as Westwood rallied from a pair of bogeys on the opening two holes on the Sunday to win his first title since April’s Malaysian Open.

The experience of playing alongside the former World No 1 could help him this weekend.

“I walked off disappointed that I didn’t do better,” Fleetwood said. “But, definitely, the next time I’m in contention, I’ll take something from the way Lee was, how calm he was and the way he kept his head down and focused on what he was doing and got the job done. He was impressive to watch.”

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae

Follow us on Twitter at SprtNationalUAE

Published: December 16, 2014 04:00 AM

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