Tommy Fleetwood’s return from an extended absence couldn’t have gone much better.
Playing for the first time in six weeks, Fleetwood took advantage of soft, receptive conditions and fired an 8-under 64 to share the early lead at the BMW PGA Championship. It was his lowest opening-round score in eight years.
Fleetwood hadn’t competed since the Open Championship after his mother died July 21. Despite finishing in the top 5 in each of his past two worldwide starts, the Englishman opted to skip the lucrative FedExCup playoffs to spend more time with his family.
Fleetwood played the opening round Thursday at Wentworth alongside two of his closest friends on tour, Justin Rose and Shane Lowry, and with his father watching from outside the ropes.
“It’s not necessarily about the score. I was happy to be playing,” Fleetwood told reporters afterward. “Happy that I was playing with Shane and Justin. Sometimes it’s about more than the score; it’s about the people you spend the journey with. It’s weird, really, but it’s nice being back.”
Fleetwood was greeted by favorable conditions in the first round of the DP World Tour’s flagship event. Intermittent rain, plus preferred lies, made Wentworth ripe for low scoring. Even with the long layoff, Fleetwood made six birdies in his last seven holes to post his best score at this event and the lowest number among the early starters (he was matched in the afternoon by Viktor Hovland and Andy Sullivan).
“Six weeks felt like a really long time – it’s felt like two years,” Fleetwood said. “You never quite know how you’re going to come out and play, no matter how well you might have practiced or anything. Playing in a tournament is very, very different, and I’m always amazed at Tiger Woods just turning up. When he turns up at the Masters for the first time in however long, he cruises around, making the cut, and I think that’s one of the most impressive things. But it was nice to be back.”