Tommy Fleetwood’s response after Rory McIlroy challenged players with career remark

The Open: Tommy Fleetwood describes himself in three words

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The 30-year-old is currently playing his part in Europe’s quest to retain the Ryder Cup against the USA as golf’s premier tournament continues at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. Team USA currently hold a six point to two lead over Europe, after securing points in the foursomes and fourballs yesterday, claiming three to one wins in each session. Fleetwood provided Europe some relief on a torrid day, by claiming half a point for his side in the final foursome on Friday, alongside partner Viktor Hovland.

The Southport-born golfer, who is currently ranked ninth in the world, was not selected for Saturday’s foursomes, but will likely return later in the afternoon when the foursomes return.

He will also be expected to clinch a point in his singles match on Sunday, which pits 12 golfers from both sides against each other.

Fleetwood’s teammate McIlroy – a four-time major winner – endured a frustrating day on the course, as he was unable to collect any points for Team Europe.

Europe’s captain Padraig Harrington spoke of his side’s team spirit and unity, and in one incident Fleetwood was questioned about remarks McIlroy made that appeared to be aimed at players like himself.

Last year, Fleetwood was among the British-based golfers who decided to stay in the UK after the PGA Tour – the US’ tour – returned to action.

The PGA Tour, like all events across the globe including the Ryder Cup, was severely impacted as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

As part of the restrictions, players opting to join the PGA Tour would be forced into a 14-day self-quarantine on arrival in the country before being able to take part.

McIlroy spoke at the time and questioned why some would opt not to join the tour, claiming players like Fleetwood should “if they cared about their careers”.

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But Fleetwood responded to say he wasn’t fussed about McIlroy’s comments, and understood why they had been made.

Speaking to Sky Sports last year, Fleetwood said: “Someone like Rory gets asked a lot of questions all the time and he clearly just gave his opinion.

“There’s no hard feelings about that, as that’s just what makes the world go around.

“I can answer in terms of myself, I obviously feel like I take my career seriously, but it’s just one of those things. He said what he felt and that’s absolutely fine and we will be just the same when we see each other.

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“I think he does an amazing job at always giving answers and showing his side of things, and that was just his version of it.”

Ryder Cup action returns from 1pm today, with Europe hoping they can turn the tide of USA dominance.

Harrington said his side’s performance on Friday that their “ball striking was good, we just didn’t hole the puts”.

He added: “No doubt it was a tough day. It isn’t a good start, but there’s still 20 points to play for.”

USA captain Steve Stricker told his side, however, they must not get complacent.

He said: “We’ve had some things that came up and bit us in the rear in other Ryder Cups.

“These guys know that, and they are focused on coming out strong again.

“My message to the guys before I left was to try to win that first session again and pretend [Friday] never happened,”

The Ryder Cup continues today and concludes on Sunday.

Highlights are available on the BBC, with full coverage on Sky Sports.

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