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Nick Watney eager to shift focus from COVID-19 back to on-course play

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After finishing his opening round at the 3M Open, Nick Watney was eager to face a line of questions from reporters that focused largely on the scorecard.

"It's really nice to be in here talking about golf and not about other things," Watney said.

Those other things, of course, would be the COVID-19 pandemic that disrupted the PGA Tour's 2020 schedule and continues to loom over each weekly stop. Watney made headlines when he became the first Tour player to test positive for coronavirus, a result that sparked his abrupt withdrawal from the RBC Heritage last month. He spent two weeks in quarantine, which he described as "groundhog day," and returned at the Workday Charity Open where he missed the cut.


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But Thursday in Minnesota he found his form, shooting a bogey-free 65 that left him in a tie for third at 6 under and two shots off the lead.

"I tested positive for the antibodies and negative for the virus, so I'm trying to put that to bed, get past it and hopefully play some nice golf after coming down with that," Watney said.

The 39-year-old has five Tour wins to his credit, but none since 2012. His most recent top-10 finish came more than a year ago at the John Deere Classic, but he's in the mix to end that drought after finding quick results from extra practice last week at home. But either way, he's happy to take another step toward returning the focus to his birdies and bogeys instead of his COVID-19 test results.

"Today was a lot of fun. It's been a very unique season so far," he said. "I'm really happy to play well and I'm looking forward to trying to keep it going."