Something unexpected happened to professional golfer Jeff Overton on Sunday on the way from his Florida home to a Korn Ferry Tour event in Springfield, Mo.

He ended up in Blaine at the PGA Tour's 3M Open — aimed at his first start on any tour, anywhere since the 2017 Honda Open — instead.

So, too, did his wife, Christina, two young daughters, their car seats, everybody's bags and his golf clubs.

He told the airline to take their luggage off one plane and rebook them all on another bound for Minnesota after 3M Open tournament director Hollis Cavner called and offered an 11th-hour sponsor's exemption.

"It has been a long road back," Overton said Monday about his return at a PGA Tour tournament that didn't exist when he played his last one.

A 2010 U.S. Ryder Cup member who has made nearly 200 cuts and earned nearly $13 million, Overton hasn't competed for 5 ½ years because of a spinal infection that hospitalized him for weeks and left him unable to move without a walker for several weeks more.

He called the turnabout "pretty emotional" and "surreal" before he hugged his 3-year-old daughter, Paulina, in the TPC Twin Cities media tent on Monday and took his first look at the course where he'll tee off Thursday.

"I was thinking she might never get to see her daddy play golf," he said. "It's pretty neat to have her here. At least she'll be able to see me tee off on the first hole and see what Daddy does."

Cavner knows what Overton once did. He has never won a PGA Tour event but has had 32 career top-10 finishes. He also has finished tied for 13th and tied for 11th in British Opens starting in 2009. "He had a helluva career," Cavner said. "He was a money machine. He was a birdie machine. He made birdies all the time."

Overton, 39, hasn't played an event all this time, not since a procedure intended to help a herniated disc turned into what Christina in a May 2017 Facebook post called a "life-threatening infection" that was filled with pain, antibiotics and home health care.

He declined to answer specifics about the infection, citing legal reasons.

Overton said he didn't touch a golf club for two years or more. About six months ago, he started swinging his driver and 6-iron because it was harder to swing shorter clubs. He started playing nine holes every couple weeks, then played 18 holes. Then he started playing and walking 18 holes before he did so four consecutive days.

"I've been working hard at it," Overton said.

He attempted to Monday qualify for the recent John Deere Classic, but didn't.

Cavner and Overton live near each other in Florida and Cavner said mutual friends who play on the PGA Tour told him Overton is hitting the ball with movement and distance as he once did and is ready to return.

"He didn't get tired of the game — he got hurt," Cavner said. "It has taken him many years until he's healthy enough. I'm happy to help a guy. We always like to go to the young guys and help them. To get a guy who has been that good on tour and had an injury, it'd be great to see him come back.

"It won't be lightning in a bottle because he hasn't had a scorecard and a pencil in his hand in a long time. But I hope he can start playing good again."


  • Nine players, including Charles Howell III, Lanto Griffin and former Gopher Erik van Rooyen, withdrew Monday. Van Rooyen also withdrew from last weekend's British Open because of a neck injury. Brandt Snedeker withdrew on Sunday. Three of the withdrawals got PGA Tour Champions players John Huston, Duffy Waldorf and Paul Goydos into the field.
  • Plymouth's Van Holmgren missed out in a four-way playoff for one of four Monday qualifying spots. Daniel Gale from Castle Hill, Ga., and Nashville's Rick Lamb earned the first two spots after each shot 8-under-par 63s at Victory Links in Blaine. Chris Naegel from Wildwood, Mo., and Andre Metzger from Sioux Falls won the two remaining spots in the playoff with Holmgren and Hayden Shieh from Fremont, Calif. All four shot 67s. Holmgren played collegiately most recently at Florida Gulf Coast and joined PGA Tour Canada this season.