Fleming set for BMW PGA debut

17/05/2013

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Oxfordshire’s Tom Fleming will be up against the might of Europe’s victorious Ryder Cup team when he makes his debut in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth from May 23-26.

The Frilford Heath-based 31-year-old is one of the 10 PGA Professionals to have secured his place in the European Tour’s blue riband event which carries total prize money of €4,750,000.

Fleming, assistant to head professional Derek Craik revealed it was a dream come true to qualify where the heroes of the Miracle at Medinah, including fellow PGA Professionals Ian Poulter and Paul Lawrie, will be the centre of attention.

The 31-year-old still harbours hopes of a life on tour but concedes his appearance over the famed West Course may well be a career highlight.

“I’m a bit of a dreamer and on the one hand I would love to emulate my fellow PGA pros David Higgins and Paul Streeter who did so well last year and do something similar but I’m quite prepared that is going to be the highlight of my playing career,” he said.

“We’ve all got designs on being in tournaments like this, that’s why we got into the game in the first place but there is a financial element to chasing a place on tour that is difficult.”

Fleming earned his start via the Titleist PGA Play-Offs last December where he had to birdie two of the last three holes to sneak into the top 10 and his impending appearance has created a flood of interest among members at his club, many of whom will descend on leafy Surrey to follow his exploits.

“The club has been really good and everyone that comes into the shop is asking about it and can I get them a ticket so there is a going to be a large gallery following me – my own ball spotters!”

Like thousands of PGA pros across the UK he utilises his expert knowledge and coaching skills to help others improve.

Fleming is a late starter by most standards in golf, having initially had dreams of being a fly-half.

“I wanted to be a rugby player but that was going to materialise and I fell into golf more than anything at about 14,” he added.

“I got down to plus two and someone said have you ever thought of turning pro, well I hadn’t really so I tried on the Europro Tour and didn’t really do to well so I thought I might be better getting something behind me and decided to do my PGA training which has been really good to be honest.

“It’s also been good for my playing too because of learning about things like impact factors and ball flight and as a result really understanding what is going on in the swing.”

Ahead of his Wentworth bow he had been hoping to get a practice round with Padraig Harrington as he is friends with his brother but sadly the Irishman has pulled out.

Ernie Els, his favourite player as a teenager, would be an ideal replacement in the warm up but in reality Fleming is happy just to be there and won’t be fazed by the much vaunted West Course that the South African helped redesign a few years ago.

“The West Course is not too dissimilar to Frilford, obviously it’s a bit more of a monster but if you can drive and miss the fairway bunkers the golf course is not going to be a problem. It is just the occasion and nerves that are the key thing. As long as I don’t nobble one of the first I’ll be fine.”

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