PGA Tour

“The genie’s out of the bag now” – Tiger Woods

Press conference with Tiger Woods:

Q: What’s your plan after the ZOZO Championship?
TW: “I don’t know if I’m going to play Houston or not. I’m not playing next week, and we’ll see how this week goes and make a decision from there.”

Q: What do you make out of the distance chase going on in professional golf right now?
TW: “Distance has always been an advantage. Now that we have the tools, that being the launch monitor, the fitting of the golf clubs, the adjustability. I think all that plays into the fact that you’re able to maximize the capabilities of a driver.
There’s no reason why you can’t pick up more yardage, and guys have done that. They’ve changed shafts, they’ve changed lofts, they’ve changed weights on their heads and length of clubs. Driving is such a huge part of the game and it’s so advantageous if you’re able to get the ball out there. It just makes the game so much easier.”
“They should have been worried a long time ago, but the genie’s out of the bag now. It’s about what do we do going forward, and how soon can they do it. I don’t know if they’re going—you’re not going to stop the guys who are there right now. Guys are figuring out how to carry the ball 320-plus yards, and it’s not just a few of them. There’s a lot of guys can do it. That’s where the game’s going.
There’s only going to be a small amount of property that we can do, we can alter golf courses. I just don’t see how they can roll everything back. I would like to be able to see that, as far as our game, but then we go back down the road of what do you bifurcate, at what level? So that’s a long discussion we’ve had for a number of years, for 20-plus years now, and I think it’s only going to continue.” 

Q: Where is your game right now?
TW: “My game’s definitely better than it was at the U.S. Open,” “I feel a little bit more prepared, a little bit better, and hopefully that translates into playing the golf course.”

Q: Can you think of one significant moment that would illustrate what it’s like to play at Augusta, one big cheer that you remember the most?
TW: “Davis and I were paired together the final round of ’98 and Jack made a run. We were the group ahead. We knew it was Jack behind us, but the roars were so much louder than — those were Nicklaus roars.”

Q: Is it hard to maintain your focus when people are loud?
TW: “You hear the roars, yes, but everyone settles back down. That’s one of the neat things about playing at Augusta, is that you don’t have people yelling, you know, ‘Congrats, you got the ball in the air,’ or whatever it is. It’s so different.”

European Tour

Joburg Open to return to the European Tour

The co-sanctioned tournament with the Sunshine Tour, which will feature a prize fund of R19.5 million, will be played at Randpark Golf Club with support from the City of Johannesburg, and will be the first international men’s golf tournament on South African fairways in nine months. It will also be the first of a run of tournaments co-sanctioned by the European Tour and the Sunshine Tour, with further announcements to come.

The Joburg Open was first contested in 2007 and boasts an impressive array of past winners such as Major champion Charl Schwartzel and multiple European Tour champions including: George Coetzee, Darren Fichardt, Branden Grace, Haydn Porteous, Richard Sterne and Andy Sullivan.

It last featured on the European Tour International Schedule in December 2017, when it formed part of the early 2018 season, and was won by India’s Shubhankar Sharma.

European Tour Chief Executive Keith Pelley said: “I am delighted to see the Joburg Open back on our schedule this year. We have a wonderful relationship with the Sunshine Tour stretching back over many years and this co-sanctioned tournament is another example of that.

“I want to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to Johann Rupert, Thomas Abt, Selwyn Nathan and everyone at the Sunshine Tour for their commitment in making this happen, in addition to the Executive Mayor and the City of Johannesburg for their help and support.”

Councillor Moloantoa Geoffrey Makhubo, the Executive Mayor of the City of Johannesburg, said: “We are delighted to announce the return of this world-class golf tournament to our world-class African city. Since the inception of this tournament in 2007, our vision has been that the Joburg Open must benefit all the residents of Johannesburg.

“Now more than ever, as our economy requires a boost following the COVID-19 lockdown and with our President publicly calling for a new business stimulus, the return of the Joburg Open is perfectly-timed to contribute significantly towards this cause as it brings a major international event to our city once again.”

Thomas Abt, Commissioner of the Sunshine Tour, said: “We are extremely pleased to welcome back the Joburg Open to our schedule in what is also a momentous moment for South African professional golf as we also welcome back international competition to our fairways after a lengthy break.

“I’d like to the thank the Mayor and the City of Johannesburg for so graciously supporting us for the duration of the South African Open’s hosting in Johannesburg, and we are delighted that we can announce the return of a much-loved tournament amongst the residents of Johannesburg.”

(Text: European Tour)



DUBAI, 19 OCTOBER: Golfing superstars are not usually associated with acts of courage and determination but this year’s OMEGA Dubai Moonlight Classic will feature a line-up of golfers who have played an extraordinary role in terms of setting a sporting example, particularly when it comes to female empowerment.

In what has been a difficult and uncertain year for women’s sport due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s three-day tournament, which will take place from 4-6 November, is the latest event aimed at inspiring the next generation of young girls to set out in pursuit of their dreams and to overcome perceived barriers. The tournament will mark the return of sporting events to Dubai and take place under the appropriately named theme “Time To Shine”.

With the OMEGA Dubai Moonlight Classic’s unique day and night event format taking women’s golf to a whole new frontier, now seems the perfect time to introduce three of the awe-inspiring women heading out to Dubai to compete for the $285,000 prize fund at the iconic Faldo Course at Emirates Golf Club.

Amy Boulden

The first is Welsh professional Amy Boulden who from a young age was touted as a future superstar of the game. From the age of 13, Boulden had one of the most successful amateur careers in golfing history, winning three Home Internationals, representing Europe in the PING Junior Solheim Cup and being named BBC Wales Young Sportswoman of the Year. Boulden’s breakout potential seemed to be coming together as she turned professional at the age of 21. In her first season in 2014, she won her first tournament at the Association Suisse de Golf Ladies Open and went onto become the LET Rookie of the Year, after she made 12 cuts in 16 tournaments.

However, as the years progressed a first tournament victory on the Ladies European Tour continued to elude her as well as an unsuccessful attempt to secure playing rights on the LPGA tour. This slump in form resulted in the loss of her tour card in 2019 and it was at this point that Boulden re-evaluated her own place in the game. However, after showing serious resolve, Boulden took an important first step, regaining her place on the 2020 Ladies European Tour with victory at Qualifying School at La Manga Club in Spain, earlier this year in January.

Despite the pandemic and ongoing lockdown, Boulden was not yet done with 2020, as she stormed to victory in the VP Bank Swiss Ladies Open, her Maiden Ladies European Tour Win. Boulden’s victory in Switzerland was reminiscent of the sort of golf that saw Boulden originally first burst onto the scene in 2014 and means she now sits in fifth place on the Race to Costa del Sol European rankings, ahead of next month’s OMEGA Dubai Moonlight Classic.

Commenting on her reversal of fortune in 2020 and the adversity that she has had to overcome Boulden said:

“It’s obviously been a few tough years but since regaining my tour card, I’ve been focused in 2020 on just ensuring at each and every tournament that I put myself in contention, I am really happy with how I’ve handled the pressure so far this year and how I’ve shown killer instinct when I’ve needed to. I’m looking forward to playing in Dubai next month and putting myself in these positions more often, as this is where I want my game to be.”

Diksha Dagar

The second young tough competitor is Diksha Dagar, the youngest Indian woman to win on the distinguished Ladies European Tour when she claimed victory in 2019’s South African Women’s Open aged just 18-years-old. A phenomenal achievement in itself – made all the more incredible with Diksha being born deaf.

Commenting on the similarities between 2020 and facing adversity, Dagar said:

“In such a difficult year as 2020, just being able to play in tournaments such as the OMEGA Dubai Moonlight Classic make me incredibly lucky. To be able to play professional golf is all thanks to my family and the people around me for offering me guidance, support and encouragement. Being born deaf, I never knew what it was like to hear or that I was missing anything. It’s this attitude that has allowed me to turn pro and compete with the attitude that I can play with the best.

“Golf has been an anchor in my life, bringing me great joy and happiness. To those suffering with their own problems, particularly young girls and women, I recommend accepting your respective situation and learning that whatever the difficulty it is likely to only form a small part of your overall life. It’s important to work hard and take advantage of the chances we’re offered. There is always opportunity in adversity, so use it.

“The fact that the tournament organisers have taken the decision to host this event behind closed doors in Dubai, is testament to our game’s resilience. Even if unable to watch in-person, golf brings excitement and joy to those watching and my goal for the end of this year is to play as well as I possibly can for those stuck at home and perhaps inspire those who thought golf might not be for them.”

Julia Engstöm

Swede Julia Engström, aged just 19-years-old, has had a fantastic 2020, winning her maiden LET golf title with a sensational victory in Australia at the Women’s NSW Open. Engström continued her fine form, quickly following up her first victory with a second at the Lacoste Ladies Open de France in September last month, after carding a hole-in-one en route to a second round 64 (−7).With that win she is currently top of the LET 2021 Solheim Cup Points leaderboard and second on the Race to Costa Del Sol, a remarkable achievement in just her third year as a professional.

However little known, is that throughout her early golf career, whilst she’s been climbing the rankings and making a name for herself on Tour, Engström has also been studying to complete her education.

“I only turned professional three years ago at the age of 16, which at such young age gave me little choice but to continue with my studies. However, I felt it was important to continue this process and ensure I have a life outside of golf. I bring my computer and books with me wherever I’ve had to travel for tournaments! I use any downtime to study and ensure my grades remain high. Of course, it’s difficult and sometimes hard to find the energy to do both, luckily though my school have been very understanding and I have been fortunate that a lot of my fellow pupils are athletes too, which is helpful.

“Being able to inspire other girls to pursue their dreams is very exciting. If that remains the case I want to keep working hard and improve my game in all areas, so that others watching me play in Dubai are excited by what I’ve been able to achieve at a young age and consider to take up the game themselves. We’re very lucky to play golf alongside so many other inspiring women and to be able to travel to places such as Dubai to compete makes us very fortunate. My advice to any young girls watching us play this November is to just keep playing the game and to have fun whilst doing so. If you enjoy what you are doing the results will come.”

Formerly known as the OMEGA Dubai Ladies Masters, the inaugural tournament was played in 2006, with a strong rollcall of previous winners, including two-time winner, Annika Sorenstam, and four-time champion, Shanshan Feng. Sorenstam won the first two events back to back in 2006 and 2007, while Chinese former world no.1, Feng, dominated from 2014-2016, winning the tournament three times in-a-row. 

The newly named and scheduled tournament has been switched from May to November after its first staging in spring 2019, when it achieved global recognition as the world’s first professional day-night tour event.

For more information on the OMEGA Dubai Moonlight Classic, visit:

Top Tours

European Tour: Major surge in viewing figures for Rolex Series events

The European Tour’s consecutive autumn Rolex Series events recorded a significant increase in viewing figures and engagement, continuing the recent surge in consumption of live golf in 2020.  

Sky Sports, the European Tour’s UK broadcast partner, reported the highest recorded viewing figures for European Tour events since data collection began, with the tournament average figures for the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open and last week’s BMW PGA Championship up 81 per cent compared to 2019.   

Englishman Aaron Rai defeated Ryder Cup star Tommy Fleetwood in a play-off at The Renaissance Club to win his first Rolex Series title at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open and a week later Tyrrell Hatton claimed his third Rolex Series victory, finishing four shots clear of Frenchman Victor Perez at Wentworth Club.  

Both tournaments were played without spectators as the European Tour continues to operate a tournament bubble as part of the Tour’s health strategy based on UK government guidelines.

Instead, fans have been turning to their TVs and digital devices to stay in touch with the European Tour’s events, with the back-to-back Rolex Series events providing a premium viewer experience through enhanced broadcast and digital coverage.

Innovations included the introduction of TopTracer4K, an overall increase in the use of TopTracer to a total of nine tees, alongside the popular TopTracer fairway, enhanced augmented graphics, integrated aerial coverage from drones and the plane cam, shot by shot live statistics and enhanced audio from players and caddies. Viewers also continued to be brought closer to the action through the Sky Cart, in-round interviews and tournament winners celebrating their victories with their family via greenside video calls.

Live Golf is booming

Furthermore, highlights of the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open and BMW PGA Championship also proved popular on terrestrial television in the UK, with peak figures of more than 750,000 on the BBC.

In addition to bumper viewing figures, the fortnight of Rolex Series events also recorded the 2020 season’s highest social media impressions, collectively exceeding the totals from their respective 2019 editions by five per cent. 

The success of the two Rolex Series events further demonstrated the sustained boom in demand for live golf since the resumption of the 2020 European Tour season, with viewing figures for the six-tournament UK Swing in July and August 64 per cent higher than the Sky Sports 2019 average for European Tour events. 

Rufus Hack, the European Tour’s Chief Operating Officer and Managing Director of European Tour Productions, said: “It has undoubtedly been a significant operational accomplishment to stage these events in the current circumstances and we have made a substantial investment in our health strategy to create the safest possible environment to continue providing live golf. We are therefore delighted with the response from fans on our broadcast and digital platforms, both across the two Rolex Series events which have created a real festival fortnight of golf, but also since our resumption in July. 

“We all badly missed live golf when it was suspended in April and May and these figures certainly underline the demand that exists to watch and enjoy live coverage of our sport.  Although we dearly miss fans being able to attend our events in person, through the latest innovations and with the support of our key broadcasters and partners, we are able to offer the most insightful viewer experience possible.”

Jason Wessely, Sky Sports Director of Golf said: “We’re delighted to see the continued interest in Sky Sports Golf coverage and it’s fantastic to see how many people enjoyed the two recent Rolex Series events. 

“Our team continues to work hard in testing times to bring the best golf coverage to Sky Sports subscribers and we look forward to bringing our customers plenty more world class golf in the coming weeks.”

Following the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA won by Lee Westwood in January, the Rolex Series concludes with the European Tour’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai at Jumeirah Golf Estates from December 10-13. 

Alongside broadcast and digital innovations, the European Tour’s 2020 season will also continue to be underpinned by its #GolfforGood initiative, which has been raising money for charities and rewarding the true heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last week, David Howell’s hole-in-one at the BMW PGA Championship secured a donation of £71,675 for the tournament’s official charity, the Alzheimer’s Society, from tournament title sponsor BMW. That took the overall amount raised by #GolfforGood so far to £902,091. 

(Text: European Tour)

Highlights Tours

Sophia Popov on her attempt at KPMG Women’s PGA Championship 2020

THE MODERATOR: We are back with Rolex Rankings No. 25 Sophia Popov. Sophia is competing in her third KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and her first since 2018. This is her fifth start of the 2020 season and has a breakthrough win at the AIG Women’s Open several weeks ago. What have the last six, seven weeks been like for you since that blustery day at Troon when your life just changed?

SOPHIA POPOV: Yeah, it’s been crazy. You know, it’s been probably the coolest five weeks of my life. For me obviously it was an unexpected win, too, and I got to enjoy that with my family and my friends, and so it’s been a little bit of a whirlwind with all the media and everything, but it’s obviously been awesome, and I wouldn’t want to change it for anything.

It gave me a big confidence boost going into Portland and ShopRite, also, so I feel like I’ve been playing some solid golf since then, and it’s nice to see that pay off now.

THE MODERATOR: You definitely have been playing some solid golf. Thinking back to Troon, how much inspiration do you take from that? You want to win and you need to move on at some point, but how much inspiration do you take back from that week at Troon as you move into the rest of this week?

SOPHIA POPOV: Yeah, a win is a win. I felt like even when I won mini-Tour events before, it gives you a lot of confidence going into the next few weeks, and for me that win was — gave me all the confidence in the world. It kind of proved to me that I knew my game — I always knew my game was there, it was just a matter of being able to play well during the right weeks and keeping my card for the most part, and then I finally had the breakthrough win, and ever since it’s been kind of nice because I can kind of relax a little bit. On the course I think it’s changed my attitude even more, just being a little bit more calm on the golf course and letting it come to me instead of pushing for it or having to play super aggressive.

It’s just been really working in my favor, and that’s another part that I’m really enjoying since that win.

THE MODERATOR: We’re at your next major playing as a major champion where you get announced as “major champion Sophia Popov” and we’re at Aronimink. What are your thoughts on this golf course?

SOPHIA POPOV: Yeah, I actually saw all 18 today for the first time, and it was super chilly this morning. I needed everything, mittens, beanie. I was like, I’m right back at Troon, which felt pretty good to me, but except for the fact that I was hitting like 3-hybrids into every green, and I was like, this is a little bit exhausting, so I hope they might put up some tee boxes.

But overall I think it’s an amazing golf course. It sets up well I think for my game. I hit it decently long, so I think that plays in my favor, and some good greens — huge greens. I feel like you can have about 300 different kinds of putts on there.

You know, you try to practice around them and see whether you can get any kind of lie you can possibly get in a tournament, but you’re always going to be somewhere else. It was nice. It’s just in amazing shape, and I’m really excited about going out there on Thursday.

THE MODERATOR: One of the fun things about this event is you go to a different place every year, someplace you’ve never been. What’s your practice of how do you practice for a place you’ve never been?

SOPHIA POPOV: Yeah, it’s interesting, you go by the yardage book. You just kind of check, where do I want to hit this tee shot, pick some targets, pretty much can hit driver on almost every hole here, which is great, and then you kind of have to — like I said, you play by the yardage book so you see some of the plateaus on the greens and you try to play to a couple different ones and see how the ball reacts, and then on the back nine honestly I just played a game against myself or with my caddie, and I played my score and just tried to see was it scorable, what can you get out of the course. So that’s kind of been a nice preparation.

Q.  I believe you went home after your victory at Troon; is that right?


Q.  How long does it take to really sink in?

SOPHIA POPOV: You know, I feel like it’s never going to quite sink in. I mean, eventually it will, but not this year. I mean, this is just my birthday present, my Christmas present, everything to myself. And I also — from talking to a lot of different players, men’s and women’s side, they all said to me, you know what, sit back, kind of relax. I know you want to get out there and play but really enjoy it. You’re not going to get that time again. Come next year it’s going to be crazy and you’re going to want to — you’re looking forward to every next tournament and you forget about what happened in the past and you want to really just enjoy it and take some time and spend it with your family. I took that time, I took three weeks, I celebrated with my family, with my friends, and I’m ready to celebrate a little bit more towards the end of the year, but it hasn’t quite sunk in yet.

Q.  You said it was five weeks, the best five weeks of your life.

SOPHIA POPOV: Yeah. Is that how long it was ago? Whatever it was since the tournament.

Q.  Tell me what you did outside of playing tournament golf. What did you do?

SOPHIA POPOV: I went home to Germany first, saw some of my family, some of my friends there. I honestly didn’t play a lot of golf this week. Then I went back to Arizona to my immediate family and celebrated with my brothers. They were over the moon. They’ve been kind of waiting for this moment for a long time, and they were probably more proud than anyone else was.

I got to spend the whole week with my nieces and my family and just — played a little bit of golf, got back into it as far as my — seeing my trainer, my physio and everything, so I was ready to go. That third week off I started practicing full-time again and getting back into things, but those two weeks went by fast because it felt like you were kind of celebrating with everyone so it all kind of merged into one big celebration over two weeks. I wish it was a little bit longer to be honest, but I was ready to get going again. I saw everyone play at the ANA and I was really bummed, and I was like, now I’m ready, I want to go. Going to Portland was really nice. I was very excited about that.

Q.  As the Women’s British Open champion, what gets you excited if it’s not on the golf course?

SOPHIA POPOV: A lot of things. I mean, I’m into anything sports. I was glad sports on TV was on again, so I was watching a little bit of that and kind of planning a couple trips for Christmas. I love skiing, so that’s going to be fun.

I like a lot of things. I like hiking, I like running, I like biking, road biking. I did everything during those two weeks, kind of everything that I can’t do normally when I’m on Tour. Yeah, I don’t know, just hang out with my family. I love that. That’s the most fun I have.

Q.  A big check came with that win; did you splurge on anything or do you have any plans to splurge?

SOPHIA POPOV: No, it’s been like five weeks, and you’re like, I’m sure you’ve spent it on something. You know what, I bought myself a TrackMan. That was a dream of mine, and I couldn’t really afford it before. I was like, I really want one, and I always had to go see my coach to go get some numbers, and now I finally have one, so I’m really excited about that. All the other stuff I kind of let it come to me. I’m not typically someone who just goes out — I’m not a big shopper, so I don’t even know, I have to see — there’s some bigger things, some bigger projects I have in mind. Like I said, I’ll just let it come to me, and eventually — I’m kind of a — German people save all their money and then one day they pass it on to their kids or something. That’s probably what’s going to end up happening. Save for college funds and everything.

Q.  What would you say is the biggest difference in your life since winning the British, and then also how many congratulatory text messages would you say you got?

SOPHIA POPOV: The biggest thing that’s changed since the British for me as a player or just as a person in general?

Q.  Both.

SOPHIA POPOV: I think the biggest thing has just been my confidence. You know, it’s funny, I’m a pretty confident person off the golf course and then when I’m on the golf course and it seems like I just — it’s not like — I know what I’m capable of, but it was just kind of believing in the fact that I can go out and shoot low, and no matter on what day, and I think that changed a lot, that I go out and I feel more like a sense of belonging and I can just go out and shoot low any day and be in the mix at any tournament now. So I think that’s changed a lot for me.

And then what was the second question?

Q.  How many text messages?

SOPHIA POPOV: How many text messages? WhatsApp and messages and Facebook all together? It was crazy. I think the morning after I had close to 415 just text messages, which I still have not even replied to. So if you’re in the — I’m sorry. I’m slowly getting back to everyone. Probably a good 600 total. Obviously a lot of people that I don’t talk to all the time, and then a lot of people I do talk to all the time. It was a lot for sure.

Q.  So I guess you didn’t get my text then?

SOPHIA POPOV: Or I didn’t get back to you.

Q.  You were, I think, 304 in the world when you won. There was some extenuating circumstances with health and whatnot, but we’ve also had Mirim Lee win at No. 94 and Hannah was 114 when she won this last year. My question is should anyone, given the state of women’s golf, should anyone be surprised when that happens?

SOPHIA POPOV: You know, I mean, I think it’s always a surprise because you just don’t see it coming. But you know, it kind of speaks for the depth of talent out there. I think on any given week a girl that’s ranked 200 or 300 can play her best golf and win.

I think it’s like that on the — I wouldn’t say it’s not like that on the men’s Tour. I think every now and then you have a breakout winner, you have a surprise winner that no one was talking about previously.

So yeah, it’s always a surprise. It’s just kind of knowing that any girl out here this week can win because we’re all capable of playing some really good golf. I don’t know — of course the surprise factor is always going to be there, but I’m not surprised about any of the girls winning this week.

Q.  Kind of as a follow-up to that, there was a time 20 years ago, and I don’t want to throw a bunch of numbers at you, but there was like 18 majors played and only one first-time major winner in that whole group. It was Annika and Juli and Seri, Karrie, the whole lot of it. Do you think we’ll ever see an era like that again?

SOPHIA POPOV: You never know. I mean, I just think it’s similar to the men’s game where we have a lot of good players out there now. The top 10 in the World Ranking for the women, everyone is up there every week. I think it just, again, speaks to the depth of the field and how good everyone is now, and everyone is capable of winning. That’s why not the same person wins every week. But you’ve still got your favorites every week, and I think that’s not going to change. It’s just that there are so many good players out there so you just never know, and I think that’s just the golf game today in general is like that. I think you’re just — it’s the same as Tiger Woods that won everything, you hardly find a guy out there now winning the same amount that he’s won.

We’ll see; maybe there will be. But I honestly don’t think so. I think more girls are going to win multiple events.

Q.  I’m sure you replayed the final day at Troon here and there and think about it. When you get on the other side of that, is it about the shots that you physically hit or is it more about how mentally you handled the challenge of the day?

SOPHIA POPOV: I think a little bit of both. You know, I love to look back and I look at certain shots that I hit, and you know, it’s also great for me mentally to go back and look at those and remind myself of how well I was playing under pressure, and I think mentally it was a huge breakthrough for myself.

I think I’ve always battled the game between the ears more than anything else my whole golf career, and I think for me that was the most important thing. But I still had to execute.

So I think I look back a lot and I look at certain shots and I go, you know, I’m just — I think it’s a lot of self-pride in that moment that I was aggressive and I didn’t back off of any of the shots, and I just played — I went for most of them and went right at the pin and stuff like that.

I think it’s a little bit of both, but I think obviously proud of the execution just as much as the mental part.

Q.  How does money like that hit your account on the LPGA Tour and how often do you go back to look to confirm that it actually was the right amount?

SOPHIA POPOV: I mean, it just hits my bank account like every week.

Q.  On a Monday —

SOPHIA POPOV: No, not on a Monday, somewhere end of the — I don’t even know, end of the week sometime. I never even pay attention. At some point it’s there, and I’m like, oh, yes, I can go shop, which I don’t like, though. But I can — I don’t know, it came towards the end of the week, and of course you look at it and you’re going, man — it just feels like something illegal is happening on your account. And it still does. I still look at it and I go, oh, my.

But I’m kind of a very pragmatic person. Like immediately I would put half of it away, and I don’t look at it all the time, to be honest. I was doing — I just keep doing my taxes, do all my stuff that I’ve been doing the same way I did before, and of course it’s with a bigger amount now. I think the more often I look at it, the more I get used to it, but it’s definitely still weird.

You know, I think after a while you get used to it, and of course there’s been more coming in after, so I think that’s just something that — I mean, hopefully at some point I can just get used to and don’t have to keep looking at it. I try to ignore it, to be honest.

Q.  I don’t know if you have an agent. I’m assuming you do —


Q.  Has there been a lot more interest in Sophia since the win from outside sources?

SOPHIA POPOV: Yeah, for sure. I mean, would be weird if it wasn’t that way, so definitely. But yeah, I let my agent handle that. Derek, do you hear that? Yeah, like everything goes to my agency, so for the most part — of course there’s still coming in, but again, they want me to play golf, I want myself to play golf. I don’t want to have to worry about that stuff, so I let them handle everything.

Q.  A lot of players are kind of overwhelmed by media and attention after a big win like that, but you actually were mic’d up last week. Are you kind of like — is this fueling you, the attention?

SOPHIA POPOV: Well, in some ways maybe. I just have always been the kind of person, I like — anything that I did media related, I really enjoy it. Most of the time, to be honest, I was doing internships where I was working behind the camera. I wasn’t even in front of it. But I like working with the media, so I think for me, it’s something that comes naturally. So I wasn’t really worried about being mic’d up at all because I knew really all I had to do was just be myself out there and maybe throw in a couple of funny comments here and there. I was like, trying to make up for my group. I was like, you’re probably talking more than you usually do. But I really enjoy it.

So I said to them, it’s no problem to me. I don’t get annoyed by the mic or anything hanging out. I don’t know if it fuels me. I just enjoy it. So far. So far.

Q.  What were your internships, out of curiosity?

SOPHIA POPOV: I just did some with German sports channels, and one of them was commentating the Solheim Cup for the Solheim Cup for German TV, so I did a couple weeks with them and a few things with our golf club in Germany when I was younger, like 10th, 11th grade, 12th grade I did some stuff, and then in college, too, I was a communication major. And I wrote some blogs, I worked for the history department in school where I was interviewing people. Just like little things here and there. I like doing that. Eventually that’s something I’m hoping to get into anyways.

Q.  At the British I know you said your swing thought was just to swing aggressively. I was wondering if that’s still a swing thought you lean on or if there’s something new you’ve been employing lately?

SOPHIA POPOV: Definitely still swinging aggressively, but of course since the British I’ve looked at some just technical things, too, in my swing. I obviously don’t want to change a lot. Trying not to change anything to be honest, but I’ve just got the same thing I work on, which is lowering my ball flight a little bit, which I was trying to do for the British anyways, and it just helps my swing in general to have more solid contact, more consistent and hit the ball flight that I like to see, and I still work on exactly the same things. It’s not very technical, it’s just more of a swing thought or a movement thought.

Q.  So how do you flight it down more?

SOPHIA POPOV: Just for me it’s just keep the hands in front. I’ve tried to — I’m someone who gets the hands — I get a little bit scoopy. Scoopy is a big — is not the right word probably because it’s not really scoopy but I try to keep the hands up front and shut the face a little bit more at impact, and that’s how — I try and use my body a little bit, all that together, just get a little bit lower.

Q.  You mentioned the ANA and how you were bummed about not being there, and then obviously you know about the fact that you don’t get a five-year and all that stuff. Were you surprised at the amount of people that seemed to be in support of you when all that came out?

SOPHIA POPOV: Definitely. I mean, it was — honestly I don’t spend a lot of time on Twitter or I didn’t before the British, and then after the British I was like, the whole thing was blowing up more than I honestly wanted it to. It wasn’t my intention at all. I just kind of took it the way it is because midway through a season I know there’s nothing that’s going to change about that, and I’m okay with that, I just — like I said, I just want to go out and play. That’s something that we’re going to deal with towards the end of the season.

But it was really nice to see that pretty much everyone was on my side, and I had a lot of support on our Tour and on the men’s Tour.

I think players in general, they — I think they could put themselves in my position, and I think they felt for me a little bit in that respect. But again, it’s something that I don’t think will be changed right now, and so we’re going to — we’ll see towards the end of the season whether there’s anything that can be done about it, or I just have to go out and play good golf. That’s not going to change.

THE MODERATOR: Troon where you won was a course with a great history on the men’s side, now we’re here at Aronimink and we’re playing so many tournaments with KPMG and PGA of America that have such a great tradition in the men’s game. How does it feel to you and the rest of the Tour as we come to places like here and Atlanta Athletic Club and Olympia Fields a few years ago with such a rich men’s tradition as we continue to promote and grow the women’s game?

SOPHIA POPOV: It means a lot. I’m someone who’s watched a lot of golf my whole life, especially the men’s side, just because when I was in Germany they wouldn’t show the women’s. So I would watch all the majors and I would see tournaments happening on these courses all the time. I think it’s amazing since KPMG has stepped in; the kind of courses they get us on is incredible. We were just out here this morning, we were talking about it, and I said, I love it, it’s so pure, it’s a championship golf course, it’s long, it’s very difficult. And I think that’s what a lot of us want. We want those kind of golf courses, and it’s just really nice to see because you can compare the games side by side, same golf course, and maybe not the same conditions and you’re not playing the same time of year maybe, but in general it’s awesome. Like I love it, and I’m just super excited for the next few years to come, also.

Highlights Tours

Sergio Garcia on his first PGA Tour victory since 2017

DOUG MILNE: We’d like to welcome Sergio Garcia, winner of the 2020 Sanderson Farms Championship. Congratulations on a very convincing victory, your 11th on the PGA TOUR and first since the 2017 Masters. Obviously last shot coming into 18, third shot coming into 18, second shot coming into 18, just a few highlights of the week ending with that 18th hole.

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, obviously the perfect way, the perfect ending for an amazing week. I obviously knew that Pedrito — he finished at 18, so I knew that I needed to birdie one of the last two or three to get ahead. I actually thought I birdied 17. I hit a great putt. I thought I made it. Unfortunately I didn’t.

But then I stood up on 18 and I did what I’ve been doing all week. I trusted myself. I aimed down the right side of the fairway and just hit a hard draw, really, really nice drive, actually went quite long because it was playing a little bit into the wind, and it gave me the ability to have an 8-iron into the green instead of having a 6 or something like that, and then just hit, funny enough, my last win, Augusta — well, my last win on the PGA TOUR at Augusta, the 8-iron on 15, this time it was the 8-iron on 18, and to almost hit the pin again and to hit it that close, obviously it was a dream come true.

DOUG MILNE: With the win you move to No. 4 in the FedExCup standings. You’re making your first start here at the Sanderson Farms Championship, capped it off in great style. Just some thoughts on being here and playing the Sanderson Farms Championship for the first time.

SERGIO GARCIA: It’s great. They’ve taken amazing care of it, Joe and everyone around. I mean, I saw — I watched this tournament last year, and I thought — obviously a friend of mine that I was talking with, Juan, and I thought, that looks like a really nice course. This year because of everything, I should be — funny enough — well, the Ryder Cup should have been last week. I probably should have been in Europe if things would have been normal, and because of COVID and everything, it kind of changed my schedule a little bit, and I’m able to play a few tournaments in the fall.

Then it was really, really great to be here, to play the way I played, to believe in myself the way I did, and I’m really, really proud.

Q. It’s been more than a year, just over a year since your last win at the Dutch Open. Is it hard to trust yourself when you need to like you did on 18?

SERGIO GARCIA: Sometimes it can be. But I think that the great thing about it is my mind was very clear throughout the whole week. You know, I knew what I wanted to do pretty much every single shot I hit. The only one that I would love to take back — not even the one on 8 but the tee shot on 15. I should have hit like a strong 3-wood and deal with that. But other than that, like I said, I was very confident throughout the whole week. I was believing in myself the whole week. I obviously hit a bad putt on 6 for par, but I stuck with it, I kept going, I kept believing, I kept telling myself, you’re doing great, just keep doing what you’re doing, it’s great. So you’re not going to make every single putt, and I was able to come up with some great shots and some great key putts on the back nine to win it.

Q. As much as you were yelling at your ball on the 14th when it was in the air, at what point did you realize how close it was?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, obviously when it just carried the bunker I knew that it was going to be fairly close, if it didn’t bounce right and kind of caught the slope. I wasn’t even sure if it was on the green. I was like, well — it looked like it bounced pretty straight, but I knew that there was a little bit of a run-off area there. So until I saw it, I didn’t know it was that close.

I was expecting it to be about 10 feet or so just right of the hole, which was already a great shot, but instead of that it was probably about three feet, which made it a lot easier for sure.

Q. Sergio, what club did you hit there on 14?

SERGIO GARCIA: It was a 5-wood.

Q. How frustrated were you getting having so many people, media, asking you what’s wrong with your game?

SERGIO GARCIA: I really wasn’t that frustrated because nobody was really talking to me. You know, they had other guys to talk to, and I was just working hard and just trying to get better in every aspect of the game, mentally and physically, and I was just doing my own thing, trying to figure out what I needed to do, and that’s what I did.

Q. Also after the round you mentioned dedicating this win to your father and the loss of a couple family members. Can you share a little bit about that?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah. Unfortunately my father has a lot of family in Madrid. He’s one of nine siblings, and unfortunately we lost two of his brothers because of COVID, one at the beginning, Uncle Paco, and one just last Saturday actually, not yesterday but the Saturday before, Uncle Angel.

You know, it’s sad. It’s sad. And I know that a lot of families have lost a lot more people, but you never want to lose anyone like that, and I wanted to win this for them.

Q. What do you think this victory can do for you going forward with a Masters and other events coming up?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, it’s obviously a boost of confidence, there’s no doubt. Every time you play well, even if I would have not won it, it still would have been a massive high for me this week. To be able to do a lot of the things that I did, it meant a lot. It showed me a lot of what I still have and what I still can do.

It’s obviously exciting. I’m finally very happy with the equipment that I have in my bag, with everything that I’m playing. I feel like I’m starting to be the old me, being able to hit shots from every angle, and obviously it’s exciting.

Q. Just a point of clarification. First of all, I saw that you had mentioned previously that you’d been sort of putting with your eyes closed maybe up to three years ago and you did at the Masters. But you don’t do it all the time in these three years; you kind of go back and forth; is that kind of accurate?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah. Most of the times, but then sometimes when it starts feeling really well, really good, I think, maybe I can just do it with my eyes open and kind of do it normal — well, I guess my eyes closed is probably normal for me now.

But then I realize that I get too caught up in trying to make it too perfect instead of just letting myself do it. You don’t have to hit a perfect putt every time to be able to make it, and that’s what I’ve been working on, and that’s what I’m going to keep working on. Don’t worry, I’m still going to be putting with my eyes closed for probably a long time, so you guys probably won’t have to ask me all the time.

Q. Better shot, 14, that 5-wood, or 18? They’re both important, but 14 set up 18 in my mind —

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, it definitely does. I think — I mean, I think obviously if I hit a good shot on 14 and I make birdie and then I birdie 15, which is a birdie hole, then I’m still at 18. Obviously 14 was very important because it gave me the opportunity of only having to birdie one of the last four to win it.

But then 18 you still have to do it. It’s not an easy hole. It’s 500 yards, and you have to hit a great drive. The pin was a good pin on the right side, and if you miss it a little bit right, it’s a very tricky up-and-down. To be able to stand there and hit the kind of 8-iron that I did and then hit the putt that I did, even though it was only two and a half feet or something like that, you still have to gather yourself and trust yourself and do it. So that was really nice.

Q. Is it easier to trust yourself knowing that you’ve been a good ball striker, a great ball striker for your whole career? I mean, this is what you’ve relied on more than anything is being able to hit shots —

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, the great thing for me is that when I’m feeling it, I don’t feel like I even have to putt too well to have a chance at winning, or to win. With an average or just above average kind of putting week, if I’m playing the way I played this week, I can give myself a chance of winning almost every week. Obviously it’s not easy to play the way I played this week every single week because there’s some weeks that you feel a little bit better, some weeks you feel a little bit worse. But my long game, it’s always been a strength, and everyone knows that, and that’s what I rely on, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t work on the short game, too.

Q. You’ve now won at least one time each of the last 10 years. Is that important to you? Is that impressive to you?

SERGIO GARCIA: I didn’t even know. Yeah, obviously it is important. It’s something that you have to be proud of, and I am. But I didn’t even think about it.

You know, I’m not — I’ve been out here for 21 years, so you know that I’m not the kind of records kind of guy. I’ve been able to achieve some of them without even thinking about them, and I’m very proud of them. But that’s not what motivates me.

Q. I mentioned the Dutch Open earlier; did it feel longer than a year since you’ve won? When you struggle, does your last win feel like longer ago than it actually was?

SERGIO GARCIA: A little bit, yes. Without a doubt it does feel — yeah, it does feel like it was a little bit longer.

But you know, I don’t take any wins for granted. It doesn’t matter which Tour, PGA TOUR, European Tour, Asian Tour, it doesn’t matter. To me, winning nowadays anywhere in the world is tough. There’s so many great young guys playing, and they play the game at an unbelievable level. Any win you can get, it’s always something to really have in your heart.

Top Tours

Sebastian Munoz: “The energy of this place, I really like it”

Q. How has this week been? Has the week been fun as you come back defending champion?

SEBASTIAN MUNOZ: Yeah, absolutely. I get to see old faces, great memories. I don’t know, the energy of this place, I really like it, and I just kind of grow under it. I just kind of thrive under it.

Q. Were you a little nervous about how you were going to play today? Obviously everybody wants to defend their title, but were you a little nervous starting today?

SEBASTIAN MUNOZ: Not really. I just kind of tricked myself into thinking I was not the defending champion maybe, just kind of thinking it was another tournament at a course that I really like, and it’s been working so far, so I’ll keep doing that.

Q. What is it about this golf course that really fits your eye?

SEBASTIAN MUNOZ: You know, the layout is really good. You have to hit drivers both left to right and right to left, and I like to control my ball, and then the greens are pure, so kind of where you start it it’s going to finish. That’s something I really like about that.

Q. When you see 8-under scores already out there before you even tee off, how does that affect you and what did that — how did that impact you today?

SEBASTIAN MUNOZ: I mean, I knew it was gettable, just seeing the guys get it that low. I knew it was doable, and you just kind of need to get a hue, and I did, I started with a birdie, almost jarred it from 100 yards, so that just kind of gave me the confidence, I got a quick start, 4-under through 5, and it kind of slowed down, but then I matched it again on the back. I don’t know, sometimes I just ride the momentum. One good shot kind of feeds me for two, three holes.

Q. What happened on the shot on 9?

SEBASTIAN MUNOZ: I was in a divot and there was more wind than I thought, so I kind of went down to get it and just spun too much and got kind of hanging in the end and came up short.

Q. And then 13 you got another heater, right?

SEBASTIAN MU�OZ: Yeah, good shot on 13, a baby 7-iron just to get it rolling all the way to the back, and I just kind of fed off of that and birdied 14, 15 and 16.

Q. What do you think was the highlight for you today? Is there a certain shot that sticks out in your mind?

SEBASTIAN MUNOZ: I think probably my wedge on 1. It just kind of like set the tone for the day. Good solid driver and then almost jarred it for an eagle, so I felt pretty good after that.

Q. How would this round compare to the ones you had last year after you won?

SEBASTIAN MUNOZ: You know, it reminded me a lot of when I shot 9-under. I was definitely trying to get to that number again. I felt like this one — I mean, I don’t know. It felt like this — they were pretty similar. I remember the last one was bogey-free, this one I made one bogey. I think that one I played a little better golf. I had a really good chance for eagle on 15, but I parred it. I don’t know, I feel pretty solid in both of them, but I feel that one was a little better.

Q. What did you do with the trophy?

SEBASTIAN MUNOZ: The trophy, I put it on the club I’m a member at for like six months, and recently like the last two months I moved it to my house.

Q. Where in the house?

SEBASTIAN MUNOZ: It was in the gym, now it’s in the front, like as soon as you walk in the house you can see it.

Q. What’s the name of the club?

SEBASTIAN MUNOZ: Maridoe Golf Club.

Top Tours

Tommy Fleetwood: “I’m feeling more optimistic”

Q.Tommy, welcome to a freezing room. Talk about your recent form, great finish in Portugal but disappointing week at Winged Foot?

TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, to be honest, you know, I think since being back out playing again from late summer when I first came back out and after that COVID lockdown, I think I haven’t played great, and again, I think, the way it’s been, the year has been very different. Some guys have had lots of things there. It’s been great to get home to kind of start seeing — even sporadically just getting that kind of guidance, some positive practise sessions after Portugal. Portugal I played great and I chose to play because I knew I had gone home and I was having to work on things. Struggled with a few things. I didn’t putt very well but overall I hit it great on what was a very, very difficult golf course to hit fairways can get into position, which is disappointing. This year, three events — a bit of an asterisk on your career, if you like. That week, Bryson did great.

But again, been home and feel like my game is progressively — I’m feeling a lot more motivated is not the right word but I’m feeling more optimistic about every sort of practise session I’m having and going out there and hitting it this week, which is great. I’m not like, you know, particularly happy with my form, but I feel positive.

Q. Your first Scottish Open since 2016, Castle Stuart?

TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Maybe, yeah. I genuinely love coming to Scotland. I get a great vibe every time I come here, St Andrews, one of my most favorite praises in the world. Staying here, sat in the room last night — but the last few years, I’ve kind of taken the decision where I feel like having a week off before, the way the schedule has worked, I feel like having a week off before majors is giving myself the best chance to prepare. It’s just always fallen that week before The Open, and I remember the first time I missed it, I was — I said this is what I want to do. Kept it like that most of the year. So this year, it’s been nice to get a chance to come back, even if it is a bit later on in the year and a bit colder.

Q. Pictures of you out on the course. What are your impressions of it?

TOMMY FLEETWOOD: I didn’t watch much last year, I was in Ireland at the time, but I know the scoring was really low. I turn up here and I don’t see any low score out there the way conditions are out there. I think for the first few holes, we were talk, me and Tony Finau were saying, it’s great, every hole is a different challenge. I think especially with the wind is pumping the way it is, there were so many crosswind shots, you’re going back and forth a lot. Especially today, I think it’s been a really good test. You have to change what you do on each hole, and given all the different demands of the hole. I enjoyed being out there. Felt like stretching my game a little bit. And again, when you’re working on things, having those kind of conditions on a pretty tough golf course is nice because it challenges you.

Q. The last few years, following a different schedule, how weird is it with all the interruptions and stop pages, Scotland in October, Augusta in November? How difficult is it?

TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, I just think there’s been changes that have been out of our control. I think just getting to play — I could easily get to take it for granted at the point where we are in the year, yeah, the schedule is funky and things have changed, but I think it’s easy when you’ve played for a while now to take it for granted that we are playing all the time. You look at when everything first happened, oh, we’re done and we’re going to be in lockdown for a year, everybody, you always think the worst.

There’s definitely things that I have missed. Again, playing the week before the U.S. Open, something I haven’t done before. I think for sure people have missed having — you don’t have your coach every week, you don’t want to do that, you’re professional golfers and you should be able to figure things out on your own but the truth is you can’t and everybody needs a bit of guidance now and again. Definitely missed that.

Yeah, it is different and it’s a strange year but at the same time, you know, turning up week-in, week-out with a chance to play golf tournaments, to win golf tournaments, to win majors, that’s the way you’ve got to look at it. You kind of nailed that straightaway that yeah, things are different and a bit weird, but it doesn’t actually stop you from having the ability and having the chance to have a great season still.

There’s still plenty of good events to play, and it’s been — I would say, as strange as it’s been, I had a long spell in America which I — again, I’m not going to use terms — say I enjoy it, rather be home rather than seven weeks away or whatever but I feel like I’ve learned a lot from things being taken away from you or things being slightly different and I think I’ll take them with me forever, FOR as long as I’m playing, really, maybe knowing what I missed at certain times or what I didn’t mind about it. It’s just been very, very different.

Q. You’ve got some great Scottish golfing memories. How confident are you that you can add to that collection this week?

TOMMY FLEETWOOD: I always — every week in golf is a blank canvas. Everybody has the opportunity, and I always feel like my good golf is clearly good enough to be there at the end of the week. I am excited about playing here again, and like you say, I do have some great memories in Scotland.

I was thinking of it while I was traveling over actually, was that one of the — just at Archerfield, a match-play event and I got beat by Graeme Storm in the first round. I actually look at that as the turning point when I started coming out of my slump that was for like a year that was well documented. I actually lost that match but I played and drove home and thought, I haven’t played like that for a year. I didn’t miss a shot.

So Archerfield was a turning point where I got things going on again, and that’s a nice little positive and nice memory coming here, which is one people probably wouldn’t think about a lot.

Q. You’re much-loved give Scottish fans. How much are you going to miss them this week?

TOMMY FLEETWOOD: That’s always, I think I turned the golf on the first time they started playing in America when it was the first event back and I kind of watched — I was watching the players, and I said, well, yeah, there’s no fans, but everybody looks like when they are playing, what they are doing is just the same. They are going through — everything is the same. Same routines. Everybody looks really focused. When it comes to winning, it means the same.

When I started playing, again, it’s different, but there’s certain times when it feels more different than others. I think that the majors clearly have that feeling, and certain other points where you’re on the golf course where you might have a good moment or a bad moment, and you think, that could have been very different.

I think playing in front of Scottish fans, because they are such good fans, they know exactly what they are doing. They will be missed. Me personally, I’ll miss the odd dog roaming around on the golf course.

Q. I know when you won at Gleneagles — the dog — pretty special to you, wasn’t?

TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, it was. I actually got asked about it a couple of times. I think it was like two Nike calls to like ambassadors or friends, whatever you call it, and Robin, he asked me about that time, and I was like, I can’t believe it. Yeah, fond memories, Scotland, the country, the golf course, always looked fondly upon me for whatever reason that. Is I’ve always loved coming to Scotland and played. Had some great experiences. That was one of them. That was great.

Q. Apologies if you asked this already because I came in late for the interview. Talk of playing the CJ Championship and ZoZo ahead of Masters, are you committing to those two events ahead of the Masters and what might you want to be playing ahead of Augusta?

TOMMY FLEETWOOD: I haven’t committed to those yet. The guys were very kind. I got invites into those events this year which is great. Yeah, I want to keep playing, obviously. Like I said earlier, part of the reason why I’m playing quite a bit at the moment is because I feel like I’ve been working hard and I feel like I’m progressing in the right direction, and I want to get out on the golf course and I feel golf can change at any given week and hopefully my time will come again and it could be any week from now.

I want to play those events that are clearly great events until world golf and that will be it until the actual Masters which is November.

Q. From one Fleetwood to another, at Ryder Cup, your energy was phenomenal. How easy is it to replicate that energy at all the competitions?

TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Pretty much impossible, I think. The Ryder Cup seems — it’s been my one experience, and it was for sure — it’s definitely like it’s own individual event, and it brings with it emotions that you just don’t seem to be able to get every week. I mean, you don’t really see moments like — that you get at The Ryder Cup on a Friday morning and Friday afternoon, still two days left of the tournament, and you just don’t seem to get that. I think what makes The Ryder Cup, for us golfers, for starters, it’s the biggest sporting occasion in the world when it comes to The Ryder Cup, and we’re lucky enough that we get to play in it, and the fan interaction, seems impossible to replicate. You have 60,000 fans and there’s 16 people on the golf course, it’s not a lot.

For me, that was just — it was, it was an amazing experience. Again — you look at it and I think it’s more — it’s more of a massive motivational factor that you know what you experienced that week and you want to do it again. Everybody just wants to do it again and keep playing in those things and I think week-in, week-out, you’re not going to feel like that all the time but you look at that and it is definitely a motivation for you.

Q. Just for the record, I would like to see Tommy Fleetwood replicate that in a major?


Q. If there is one major where you would like to see Tommy Fleetwood on the trophy, which one, and which golf course?

TOMMY FLEETWOOD: It’s The Open by a long way. I’m not overly picky about the golf course to be honest but I think coming from where I’m from, very, very lucky that I have — I mean, Birkdale is my ultimate. I’m from that town. Hoylake is just down the road and Lytham is just down the road. Those are pretty much as close to home as people ever get to play in their careers, and they are all Open Championship for me, and it’s the Old Course, winning at St Andrews.

If I win all four of them, then great, but take one.

Q. Just to follow up on The Ryder Cup, apologies if this was asked earlier, late in the call, but we haven’t seen Molinari this year, I believe he’s just moved to California. Are you keeping in touch with him? Is he in good spirits, working hard? What is the latest from the Molinari camp?

TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, we speak. I mean, we speak quite regularly, anyway. He’s been a busy man moving home, moving the family and everything. That was something they really wanted to do and they have done that now. I’m sure he’s very happy with it.

I think he’ll be looking forward to coming back. I think they have done that move now, and he can start progressing to where he wants to play again and stuff. I think everybody will be happy to see him, but I think he’s just taking care of things that he knew he wanted to do and the family wanted to do, and then he’ll be back very soon, I’m guessing.

Q. Since Tiger won the Masters, do you think that maybe took him longer than expected to get over that, that mental hurdle that he had to get over?

TOMMY FLEETWOOD: No. I think — I saw him the following week at Harbour Town, I played a practise round with him and he was absolutely fine. Golf, as in life, you go through great spells, and for sure, about, what, six, seven months, he was the best golfer on the planet pretty much, not far off. I think everyone had expectations, huge for somebody like that when he’s playing like that. He’s gone through a slight loss of form, and then this all happened, COVID and everything, and he’s moved house.

I’ve had my good times and poor times in my career so far. I’m sure my poor times will come again like everyone else, but he’s far too good to not win again and start playing well again.