As if the birth of his son, Franklin, has not brought enough joy to his world, Tommy Fleetwood believes that the “nappy factor” can help him win the Dunhill Links Championship here this week, a victory which would go a long way to ensuring he lifts the European Tour’s order of merit title next month.
Fleetwood, the 26-year-old from Southport, has only played one of the last seven events, but such was his early-season form – which saw him rack up two wins, a second in a World Golf Championship and fourth at the US Open – he still enjoys a lead of almost €1 million over Masters champion Sergio Garcia, with fellow Spaniard Jon Rahm another €330,000 in third.
And he realises that this €676,000 first prize could establish him as the overwhelming favourite to become only the sixth Englishman to win the Harry Vardon Trophy – presented at the conclusion of what is now known as the race to Dubai – since it was first awarded 45 years ago. He is taking inspiration from Danny Willett’s glory at the Masters last year.
“I can't believe after going through that you can win the Masters the next week as Danny did last year, because that's an unbelievable couple of weeks,” Fleetwood said. “But yeah, those kind of things do happen. When you're on a high and when your mind's not fully on golf, it might work in your favour. It's happened to other players hasn’t it and they call it the ‘nappy factor’ don’t they? So why can't it happen to me?
“I don't know how I'm going to feel tomorrow when I tee off. I might feel great and be really into it and I might turn up and be thinking about other things. But my game feels good, and I was always looking forward to coming to this week.”
There is little wonder why. Fleetwood has a great record in this event, with three top-fives here to his name, including second three years ago. There never was any doubt he would fail to turn up to what he calls “one of my favourite events” after Clare, his fiancée, gave birth last Friday, particularly as she also happens to be his manager.
“She told me to get back to work, she wants rid of me now," he said. “It's time to come back. As much as I would love to stay at home and do all them lovely family things, I'm a golfer, so had to come back. It's a massively important time for me and I know what's on the line. I would love to win The Race to Dubai, absolutely love it. I can't get away from that, I can't say I won't think about it and go through my processes and all that because that's the goal now.
“And in my position, the nice thing is we don't really get an off-season these days. So that six, seven weeks, has kind of been that. Sometimes it freshens you up, sometimes you come back really rusty. We’ll see how it goes.’