SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Tommy Fleetwood delayed restarting his season after the COVID-19 outbreak for logistical purposes and the lack of competitive rounds as a result have done no harm as the Englishman soared up the PGA Championship leaderboard on Friday.
Fleetwood, who only returned to competition on the PGA Tour two weeks ago, fired a superb six-under-par 64 in the second round at TPC Harding Park to put him firmly in striking distance as he chases a maiden major title this weekend.
Due to the possibility of lengthy quarantines on both sides of the Atlantic, world number 13 Fleetwood wanted to schedule his arrival in the United States just right.
He ultimately decided to time his arrival so that he could focus on a nine-week stretch that includes the FedExCup playoffs and Sept. 17-20 U.S. Open while his family remain in England.
“With the quarantine it made it not impossible but very close to that where I would come and travel over and then go home and come back again,” said Fleetwood.
“I was leaving it as late as possible to start playing just because then it would be a straight stretch in America.”
Fleetwood, who many consider one of the best players without major, went out early on Friday and walked off the course having shot the low round of the tournament after mixing seven birdies with a lone bogey.
Despite limited tournament reps ahead of the year’s first major championship, Fleetwood did not lack for confidence.
“Expected to play this well first week back out,” said Fleetwood, whose last two starts resulted in a missed cut at the 3M Open and share of 35th place at last week’s World Golf Championships event in Memphis.
“It’s funny really, like when you’ve played poorly, you feel a long way off, and then you have a day like today and you obviously feel a lot better about it.”
Fleetwood finished runner-up at the 2018 U.S. Open and 2019 British Open and said both experiences will go a long way to helping him this weekend as he goes hunting for an elusive major title.
“Majors are the toughest tests in general, and when you’re playing up against the best players in the world and on the hardest golf courses, hopefully it’s going to bring the best out of you,” said Fleetwood.
“But it tests every single aspect of your game mentally and physically, and I’ve always enjoyed that.”
Reporting by Rory Carroll; Writing by Frank Pingue
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