Seven weeks after the PGA Tour returned from its three-month coronavirus shutdown, world 12th-ranked Tommy Fleetwood is restarting himself at this week’s 3M Open in Blaine.
He hasn’t played since the Players Championship was canceled after its first round in March. He chose to remain at home in England with his family until now.
After a two-week quarantine in the Hamptons on Long Island, Fleetwood is back after more than four months away. He’ll spend the next nine weeks resuming his PGA Tour season.
He watched his 2-year-old son, Frankie, grow, tried unsuccessfully to learn how to cook and called it all “beautiful family time.”
“I’ve never spent four months sleeping in the same bed all at once for a very, very long time,” Fleetwood said during a Tuesday videoconference at TPC Twin Cities.
“The time we had together has been something that probably we’ll never get again.”
He timed his return to play the 3M Open before next week’s World Golf Championship in Memphis and the PGA Championship in San Francisco the week after that.
He spent part of his time at home watching the PGA Tour resume.
“Eventually, it was always going to be my turn to come out,” Fleetwood said. “One of the great things about the tour is that no matter how long you’ve been away, everybody says, ‘Hey,’ like they saw you yesterday.”
He finished third at Honda Classic in March and missed the cut at the Arnold Palmer Invitational before the Players was canceled.
He said he has played “quite a lot” of golf without tournament conditions and without trying to post a score.
“It’ll be interesting coming back to see if I can continue that rhythm,” Fleetwood said.
“I’m definitely not going to use time off as any kind of excuse if I don’t play well because I feel like I’ve had a lot of good practice and playing time.”
• Fleetwood’s cooking experiments during his lockdown at home apparently failed.
“I realized first of all, I’m not good at it,” he said, “and second of all, I didn’t really enjoy it. So it was like lose-lose.
“Chicken Milanese, I did a very poor effort on. That was when I decided to leave the career as a chef.”
Pairings to watch
Fleetwood’s featured pairing with Dustin Johnson and Tony Finau tees off 7:30 a.m. Thursday and 12:40 p.m. Friday. Brooks Koepka, Keith Mitchell and Charles Howell III tee off at 7:20 a.m. Thursday.
Bubba Watson, Paul Casey and Pat Perez go off at 12:40 p.m.
There’s a Minnesota connection with Tim Herron, Tom Lehman and former Gopher Erik van Rooyen playing together at 8:10 a.m. Thursday.
Others with that state connection: Troy Merritt, formerly of Spring Lake Park High and Winona State, at 12:40 p.m., two-time Minnesota State Am champ Tom Hoge at noon and Gophers golfer Angus Flanagan at 2 p.m.
PGA Tour players, caddies, officials and staff continue to be tested regularly inside their protective “bubble” for coronavirus.
Koepka was asked Tuesday if he is accustomed to the nasal swabbing yet.
“It depends who does it,” he said. “Gentle Steve, I guess one of them’s got a nickname. So, yeah, you try to find him.”
The PGA Tour last month resumed its suspended season by setting aside an open 8:46 a.m. tee time the first morning in Texas that included a moment of silence for George Floyd, whose killing by Minneapolis police on Memorial Day sparked unrest and protests calling for racial justice worldwide.
On Thursday, the 3M Open will be played 22 miles from where Floyd was killed.
“Well, it’s tragic,” Koepka said. “I mean, it’s pathetic what happened. To see somebody’s life go and then you watch it multiple, multiple times, it’s tough. I get chills right now just even thinking about it. What happened is uncalled for.
“If there’s anything good, we’re starting to see change. As a world, as people, we need to continue to grow and I think we’re at least bringing light to it now.
“Racism is a big issue and I think we’re on our way now.”