Tommy Fleetwood has admitted pulling on the England Golf kit as an amateur remains a career highlight and an experience which has helped make him the player he is today.
The 29-year-old became the latest former England Golf graduate to give up his time to field questions from the current national squads and coaches during a frank and honest online Q&A session.
Fleetwood detailed his rise from the Lancashire county scene, through the England set-up, Challenge Tour and then onto the European Tour.
He admitted his career has been fuelled by two main goals – becoming world number one and winning The Open Championship – and detailed the work ethic, strategy and techniques that drive him towards more successes.
Now ranked number 10 in the world and spurred on by his second place finish in last year’s Open at Royal Portrush, Fleetwood still has his sights set firmly on those twin career targets.
But he freely admits that the apprenticeship he served in his amateur career, the coaching he received and the connections he made in the England Golf ranks are stlll having an impact on his golfing journey ten years after he turned pro.
Fleetwood said: “I remember as a really young kid there was a British Amateur played at Southport and Ainsdale and Birkdale. Taking part was a group of players wearing that England shirt and with the rose emblem on their shoes.
“The rose was a quite a powerful symbol to me and I looked and said to myself that one day I wanted to wear those shoes and that shirt.
“My first England call up was to play an event in Holland and I remember getting my kit delivered and being proud to pull it on.
“There is a pressure as you represent your country. Throughout my amateur life I always respected my country and I still have that appreciation and respect for the amateur game.
“I couldn’t have had a better apprenticeship. There is always the debate about US college or staying in the England system.
“I travelled the world playing the game I love with great players and fantastic coaching.
“When you learn your game and craft that’s all you want. There’s nothing I would have done differently and I couldn’t have got any more out of the system.
“I’m grateful for what England gave me as an amateur and passionate about the experience. I have only fond memories and I want to give back.”
In 2010 and aged just 19, Fleetwood won the English Amateur Championship at Little Aston.
Recalling the win he said: “Any amateur event or team event I won I still think how amazing it was and I’d do it all again.
“I don’t put the English Amateur beneath anything I’ve achieved since. All my wins mean so much. Any old pics that I see bring back that butterflies feeling in your stomach.”
One of Fleetwood’s coaches as a teenager with England was Graham Walker. The Yorkshireman is now on Fleetwood’s team as short-game coach.
And it’s this connection from his England amateur days that Fleetwood credits with taking his game to a new level.
On the influence of Walker, named as England Golf coach of the year in 2019, Fleetwood said: “I wanted to improve my short game in 2016 and the first person that came to mind was Graham.
“As the relationship has blossomed, he has taken me from someone who didn’t have a great short game to the point where I was leading scrambling stas on the PGA Tour.
“I love his knowledge and passion and when you enjoy working with a coach it makes a massive difference to how you learn.
“I still live my England life through Graham by asking him about the current group of players and England events. I’m always supportive of what the guys are doing. If there are Home Internationals or Europeans on the go, I’m an England fan.”
One lad coming through the England ranks is Dubai-based Josh Hill who last year became the youngest ever winner of a world ranking professional golf event aged just 15.
Fleetwood presented England boys’ squad member Hill with his Guinness World Record certificate at the Abu Dhabi Championships in January and was happy to see another emerging English talent make headlines.
He said: “It’s amazing really for a 15-year-old. To be fair, he’s a big lad and he didn’t look out of place at the tournament.
“It’s great to see stuff like that. My dad was always keen for me to get into things as soon as possible. Josh has a great future and what he experienced at the age of 15 will do him the world of good.”
Fleetwood followed on from Matt Wallace, Matt Fitzpatrick and Meg MacLaren in speaking to the squads. Danny Willett, Bronte Law, Chris Wood and Mel Reid are next in line to pass on their experience and wisdom.