'I'm Pretty Sure You'll See Us Teaming Up Again' - Tommy Fleetwood Hopes McIlroy Ryder Cup Pairing Wasn't A One-Off

Tommy Fleetwood has spoken to Golf Monthly about his pairing with Rory McIlroy at the 2023 Ryder Cup - and his hopes for teaming up again at Bethpage Black

Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy during their Ryder Cup Saturday foursomes match
Tommy Fleetwood has opened up on his successful pairing with Rory McIlroy at the 2023 Ryder Cup
(Image credit: Getty Images)

There were many highlights in Team Europe’s 16.5 to 11.5 win over Team USA at the 2023 Ryder Cup, one of which was a pairing that had never been tried before.

The team put a marker down early at Marco Simone as it became the first European side in history to open up a 4-0 lead after the Friday morning foursomes.

One of those winning matches saw Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy beat Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay, and a new favorite pairing was born, with the duo quickly being dubbed “Fleetwood Mac” by fans and the media.

The pair were at it again a day later in the Saturday morning foursomes, closing out another 2&1 win, this time against Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. But how had it come together? According to Fleetwood in an exclusive interview with Golf Monthly, contrary to popular opinion, it hadn’t been a last-minute decision.

He said: “I think the whole ‘Fleetwood Mac’ thing took a few people by surprise, and there was a perception that it was a bit of a last-minute combination. But that wasn’t the case at all. It was planned for quite a while, and Rory and I knew about it at least three months before we landed in Rome.”

Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy celebrate victory in their Friday foursomes Ryder Cup match

Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy won both their foursomes matches at Marco Simone

(Image credit: Getty Images)

So, what are the crucial elements of a successful foursomes partnership? Fleetwood admitted that while complementary personalities helped, there is another, more practical factor given that the format sees each teammate play the same ball.

He explained: “Our personalities and games match up pretty well - although it would be hard for anyone not to match up with Rory and profit from it - and we use a very similar TaylorMade golf ball. So there were a lot of things going for us. We have been close to playing together before, particularly in foursomes, but it just didn’t work out.”

It wasn’t the first time Fleetwood had enjoyed a successful Ryder Cup partnership that gave rise to memorable nickname.

At the 2018 match in Paris, Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari defeated Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed 3&1 in the Friday morning fourball before beating Thomas and Spieth 5&4 in the foursomes that afternoon.

The pair then got the better of Woods and Reed again in the Saturday morning fourball, before Woods came a cropper for a third time to Molinari and Fleetwood in that afternoon’s foursomes, this time alongside Bryson DeChambeau.

Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari at the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National

Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari proved unstoppable at the 2018 Ryder Cup

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The similarities between 2018 and 2023 are not lost on Fleetwood either. He said: “Obviously in Paris we had the whole Moliwood thing with Francesco Molinari, and they didn’t want to split up me and Frankie - and quite rightly as it turned out since we won four out of four.

“I have always been lucky enough to have great partners, and I definitely hope the pairing with Rory is not a one-off. And I know he feels the same way. We were both very happy with how well it went.”

So, could “Fleetwood Mac” eventually stand alongside legendary Ryder Cup pairings like Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal, and Nick Faldo and Ian Woosnam? It’s too early to say, although Fleetwood thinks there’s every chance the band will get back together at Bethpage Black next year.

“We’re going to have to continue playing great golf just to make the team again next year,” he began. “But if we’re both there at Bethpage, I’m pretty sure you’ll see us teaming up again.”

Mike Hall
News Writer

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 

He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 

Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 

Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.