TOMMY FLEETWOOD once condemned former US Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger for belittling European golf after he claimed players had to win in the US to “prove themselves”.
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?
“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.”
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. “Brinkwire Summary News”.