Surrounded by threesomes, Denny McCarthy played all by himself in the second "pairing" off the 10th tee Saturday morning at the 3M Open and shot a 7-under 64 that he shared with nobody other than his caddie.
He played alone because of the PGA Tour's "timed-out" policy that is part of its protocols for players on their way back from testing positive for COVID-19. That policy allows players or caddies to return to competition with certain restrictions until they are fully cleared.
Those players who have tested positive can only play alone or with others also in the timed-out policy.
That's why McCarthy played alone after he did the same last week at the Memorial. That's why Dylan Frittelli and Harris English — who both had tested positive — played together Saturday and why McCarthy and English will play together Sunday at 12:25 p.m. with identical 11-under scores that could have had them paired anyway. Frittelli will play by himself two hours earlier.
"I was pretty prepared, just because I had done it last week," said McCarthy, 27, who won the 2018 Web.com Tour Championship by beating out Lucas Glover. "Pretty weird situation. We joked about it when the whole thing started a couple weeks ago. It's not that funny, but we joked about possibly having the lead going into Sunday playing as a single."
English called it a "good brotherhood," the players and caddies who tested positives and have been placed under certain conditions, including where they can go on the grounds and with whom they do or don't play.
"It's tough to maintain the rhythm," English said about playing alone. "It's nice sometimes to feed off your partner and to keep the same pace. So I'm happy to play with Denny. I'm good buddies with him and hopefully we can get something rolling tomorrow."
The 2019 Wells Fargo Championship winner, Max Homa, was 11 under in his five starts since the tour's restart in Texas last month. He is 12 under at the 3M Open after a 64 and alone in fifth, three shots back.
"Muirfield was a little harder," he said.
He is also putting better after he went to San Diego to work with Xander Schauffele's putting coach.
"I haven't putted well since the restart," said Homa, who had missed cuts his past three events. "I saw some putts go in today. I've trusted it every day. Out here you need to make putts because you need to make birdies."
Back in contention
Charl Schwartzel's second 66 in three days puts him 13 under and two shots from the lead.
"This 66 was probably better than the first day," said Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters champion who last won at the Valspar in 2016. "I look forward to tomorrow. It has been a while since I've had a chance. That was the goal, at least have a chance to win."
Back to work
The 2002 PGA champ at Hazeltine National, Rich Beem, went back to his day job only Saturday after he both played and did his television commentary for the United Kingdom's Sky Sports the first two days. He missed Friday's cut by a shot in his first event since the Houston Open last fall.
The 3M Open brought him back to Minnesota, which he considers something of a second home.
"I really love this area," said Beem, who lives in Austin, Texas. "Certain reasons because of the PGA, but I think I'd love it anyway. I'm going home Monday and I don't want to leave yet. It's a great place to be, at least in the summertime."
• Fargo's Tom Hoge shot 1 under and is tied for 33rd.
• Five-time tour winner Ryan Moore has Brett Swedberg of Alexandria, Minn., on the bag for him this week. Moore shot 67 Saturday and is one of seven players tied for sixth.
• Fox Sports' Shane Bacon will co-host an interactive look at the 3M Open's final round at 2 p.m. Sunday on the PGA Tour's experimental app Venture with Facebook. It includes interactive polls and a dedicated fan chat as well.