Tommy Fleetwood credits part of his rise to meditating

Tommy Fleetwood salutes the crowd on the 15th green during the second round of the British Open at Royal Birkdale Golf Club on July 21.(Photo: Steven Flynn-USA TODAY Sports)

AKRON, Ohio — Twelve months ago, England’s Tommy Fleetwood was No. 167 in the official world rankings and just hoping to make cuts to keep his livelihood afloat.

Dire thoughts crept into his mind as he started to question himself, wondering if he would keep his card and keep playing golf for a living. His confidence was in a downward spiral and his future was in doubt.

Then, just like that, after moving into a new home and with his fiancé, Claire, who is expecting the couple’s first child, his golf life found a way. Fleetwood had returned to his old coach, Alan Thompson, and he hired a new caddie, his best friend Ian Finnis. Where once his head was down, he started to turn some heads.

Fleetwood, 26, won the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in January, was second to world No. 1 Dustin Johnson in the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship in March, second in the Shenzhen International in April, fourth in the U.S. Open in June and won the French Open in July.

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Heading into his first WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on the South Course at Firestone Country Club, he’s ranked No. 15 in the world.

“I try not to look back too much. I know where I was,” Fleetwood said Tuesday after a practice round. “But it’s always good to have an appreciation of where you’ve come from. It keeps a sense of perspective, that’s for sure. But I try and focus on what’s going on right now. A big deal for me is to stay in the present at the moment.”

Fleetwood credits Claire, who also is his manager; his coach and caddie for his present state. He also started meditating late last year, which has proven beneficial. But in the end, it’s the guy holding the club that counts the most.

“I’m a lot more level headed and a lot calmer with everything going on,” said Fleetwood, who had won once, the 2013 Johnnie Walker Championship, before his breakout season. “I got into meditation towards the end of last year and a massive part of that is staying in the present. Everyone wants to look to the future and into the past. I stay focused on now. I have the confidence knowing if the game is on I can win the big events. That’s a massive difference. Until you’ve done it and proven it to yourself, you can’t know if you can.

“I know I can make it happen.”

Fleetwood’s rush up the ranks has been accompanied by an ever-growing spotlight, which he’s dealt with admirably. During the British Open, the spotlight was as big as it’s ever been. The tournament was played at Royal Birkdale in Southport, England, where Fleetwood was born.

“That was a different experience but great at the same time,” said Fleetwood, who rebounded from a dreadful 76 in the opening round to finish in a tie for 27th. “Is it added pressure? No. You only see it in a negative light if you think that. I’m playing in the best tournaments in the world with the best players in the world. That’s good stuff. It’s great. The extra attention hasn’t made a difference to me. Believe me, I’d rather have all the attention than when there wasn’t much last year.”

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