Tommy Fleetwood’s enraged response to US commentator’s belittling European golf: ‘Harsh!’

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The 30-year-old is currently battling to help Europe in its quest to retain the Ryder Cup against the USA. Today is the final day of the tournament — one of golf’s biggest. The US has, however, taken a big lead, with Europe currently trailing 5-11.

Fleetwood, born in Southport, is ranked ninth in the world.

Known for his talent on the turf, he’s also become outspoken outside the competition.

Last year, he hit out at a US commentator who claimed golfers must first win in the US to prove themselves.

With five wins in Europe and the European Tour in general under his belt, commentators have noted that he will likely go down in golfing history.

Yet, to American Paul Azinger, the 2008 US Ryder Cup captain, his illustrious career isn’t enough, after claiming golfers had to play in the US to “prove themselves” as real players.

Speaking to Sportsmail, Fleetwood warned Azinger that his words could have a negative effect on players’ mental health.

He said: “There’s a few layers to this and one that should be considered is the effect such comments can have on a player’s mental health.

“It won’t bother me, but some players could see it in a very bad light.

“Imagine if you’re doing great in your career, you’ve won a few times and getting closer and closer to the winning line in America, and then you’re faced with a harsh statement like that?

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“It was a disappointing two minutes of conversation.

“I get that he’s now a commentator on American television and trying to promote the PGA Tour, and yes, it’s true we do all want to play here at some point.

“I just thought he was being particularly disrespectful to the likes of Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood.

“I mean, how much more could they have done?

“Then he tries to backtrack and says that players choke because of the amount of cash at stake in America.

“Well, I’ve just won a tournament in South Africa with a $2million (£1.5m) first prize, so that’s not right either.”

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[ANALYSIS] 

Azinger, speaking during the PGA Tour, took direct aim at Fleetwood.

During a segment of the PGA Tour, he said: “There’s a lot of pressure you know, you’re trying to prove to everybody you’ve got what it takes and these guys know you can win all you want on that European Tour, the international game and all that, but you have to win on the PGA Tour

“Westwood took offence to that actually yesterday when asked about that.

“Two wins on the PGA Tour but he’s all, ‘Oh I’ve won 44 times all over the world,’ but it’s not the PGA Tour, though.

“And they know that and I think Tommy knows that.

“It puts a little pressure on Tommy — but this is where they want to be, isn’t it?

“They want to come here, they want to prove that they can win at this level.”

Fans of Fleetwood immediately came to his and European golf’s defence.

The Telegraph’s James Corrigan called Azinger an “ignorant tool”, while RTE’s Greg Allen described it as “crass analysis”.

One of the biggest voices calling out Azinger’s tone was longtime European Ryder Cup stalwart, Ian Poulter.

He wrote on Twitter: “I like Paul Azinger a lot.

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“And get on with him great.

“But Paul please do not condescend or disrespect the European Tour and our players like that.

“We have slapped your arse in the Ryder Cup for so long, I know you captained a win but seriously that was embarrassing today.”

The Ryder Cup concludes today.

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