Ryder Cup star Tommy Fleetwood forces BBC to apologise after Luke Donald joke

Ryder Cup star Tommy Fleetwood was forced into a hasty apology after letting an expletive slip whilst making a joke about team captain Luke Donald. World No. 14 Fleetwood slipped out of Team Europe’s automatic qualification places for the biannual event when Matt Fitzpatrick finished third at last weekend’s European Masters.

But the Southport-born star was a shoo-in for Donald’s team regardless and received the first of the six captain’s picks when they were announced on Monday.

Fleetwood was selected by Donald, alongside former Open winner Shane Lowry, Justin Rose and rookies Sepp Straka, Nicolai Hojgaard and Ludvig Aberg.

Having finished tied for sixth in the FedEX Cup standings, Fleetwood has enjoyed one of his best seasons on the PGA Tour and was an easy choice for Donald. The Merseysider will be making his third consecutive Ryder Cup appearance following his stunning debut in 2018 when he won four points out of five.

After his selection was confirmed, the 32-year-old gave an interview to BBC Radio Five Live to discuss the forthcoming Ryder Cup, but it wasn’t too long before the broadcast turned into something of a car crash.

Fleetwood was asked what kind of captain close friend Donald would be in Rome, to which he spontaneously replied: “S***.”

Rattled presenter Rick Edwards quickly composed himself before issuing an apology to listeners for the bad language. Fleetwood himself soon realised his mistake live on air and made his own apology. “Sorry, sorry, I lost track of where I am. I take that back,” he said.

After drawing a line under his ill-judged joke, Fleetwood gave a glowing account of Donald’s credentials as a captain for one of the biggest events in world golf that captures the imagination of a wider audience.

Fleetwood said: “Luke will be amazing. He’s somebody I am very close to. He’s a calm figure, a confident figure, he’s handled the biggest moment in the sport unbelievably well.

“To have someone leading from the front like that has been great. He’s definitely brought his personality to the captaincy. I do feel very honoured, as a friend as well but to play under a European legend, I am looking forward to experiencing his captaincy.”

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The feeling appears to be mutual between Donald and Fleetwood, with the former praising the attributes of his first Ryder Cup pick during an announcement broadcast live on Sky Sports.

Donald said: “He has experience, which is important but my nickname for Tommy is the ‘Flusher’. He is a ball-striking machine. We have just seen that in some of his results, fifth at the US Open, tenth at The Open Championship.

“I think he’s the only man in the history of golf to have more than two 63s in the final round of a US Open. We know his pedigree of golf, and obviously he’s a very versatile player. He can play with anyone. He gets along with anyone and he’s great in the team room.”

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