Emotional Fleetwood channelling Rose's Olympic vision ahead of 'surreal' Games debut

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Fleetwood, 30, captured British golfing hearts by sinking a memorable hole in one on the 16th at Augusta in April
Fleetwood, 30, captured British golfing hearts by sinking a memorable hole in one on the 16th at Augusta in April

Justin Rose's historic Rio 2016 gold medal helped convince Tokyo-bound Tommy Fleetwood the Olympic Games were more than just any other golf tournament, writes Will Jennings.

And the beaming Southport star admits he couldn’t be happier to follow in his fellow Brit’s footsteps and secure a ‘surreal’ Olympic debut in Tokyo.

Fleetwood, the world No.33, was officially selected in a four-strong Team GB golf squad on Tuesday alongside Paul Casey, Mel Reid and Jodi Ewart Shadoff.

Golf featured as an Olympic sport at Paris 1900 and St. Louis 1904 but did not appear again until Rose, the 2013 US Open champion, dazzled in Brazil to top the podium ahead of Henrik Stenson and Matt Kuchar.

Fleetwood, 30, loved watching Rose sink the winning putt in Barra da Tijuca and says memories of Team GB’s triumph are fuelling his pursuit of glory.

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Fleetwood, a two-time major runner-up, said: “Last time was the first time golfers had the chance to be in the Olympics.

“We’ve always had our majors that you put on a pedestal but what came from it was his [Rose’s] surprise at how proud he was and the amazing emotions he felt from winning it.

“That’s what he spoke to me about a lot and it was really cool seeing his face light up and hearing him talk about how he felt about not only competing in an Olympics but being an Olympic gold medallist.

“It was very, very cool even watching him talk about it. It transcends far bigger than our sport or sport itself.

“Any time [the Olympics] come on, it inspires a world of people to take up sport or do whatever they want to do.

“Even having the kit delivered, the simple act of throwing the kit on was a really surreal feeling and one of the proudest moments I’ve ever had.

“It’s really cool and to do it with these guys will be really special. I’m really excited.”

Fleetwood has endured a rocky ride at this year’s majors and tied for 50th at last month’s US Open.

He failed to make the cut at the PGA Championship in Kiawah Island and was only just able to sneak into the top 50 at the Masters.

The Merseyside star is one of the most popular players on the circuit, however, and captured golfing hearts at Augusta when he struck a scintillating hole-in-one on the par three 16th.

Fleetwood will be joined in Japan by compatriot Casey, currently the world No.20, who tied for seventh at the US Open at Torres Pines last month.

TOKYO 2020 - 'I KNOW WHAT I NEED TO ACHIEVE' - ADAM PEATY TARGETING MORE GOLD FOR TEAM GB
TOKYO 2020 - 'I KNOW WHAT I NEED TO ACHIEVE' - ADAM PEATY TARGETING MORE GOLD FOR TEAM GB

And it’s Reid and Shadoff who will fly the flag on the women’s side, with Charley Hull and Georgia Hall’s high-profile absences owing to scheduling challenges catapulting Yorkshire’s Shadoff, the world No.85, into Tokyo contention.

All four will be bidding to emulate Rose’s storied Brazilian triumph but Fleetwood, a five-time European Tour winner, played down the pressure of defending Team GB’s title in Tokyo.

“You’re not just playing as an individual, you’re playing for the nation, which again is something I don’t think we see as pressure,” added Fleetwood, whose exploits in Japan will be broadcast live on Eurosport and discovery+.

“We see it as a proud moment and something we’re really excited about. It was fantastic that we’ve had a gold medallist for our sport and I’m sure we’d all love to keep that going. 

“I don’t think we feel extra pressure – right now I think it’s excitement and pride. We are all just looking forward to going and competing and we have four chances of doing it.”

Stream every unmissable moment of Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 live on discovery+

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