By now, PGA Tour winner Andrew Putnam should have already enjoyed his first trip down Magnolia Lane for the Masters Tournament – and survived last week’s grueling U.S. Open ordeal at Winged Foot Golf Club.
That is how wacky the 2019-20 season has turned out so far because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
As the former three-time WIAA state golf champion from Life Christian Academy tries to rediscover his groove in the restart of the PGA Tour season, it is about adapting to new guidelines, and overcoming a lot of adversity.
“There is only so much you can control,” said Putnam, 31, who decided to take this week off from the Travelers Championship to do some equipment testing near home in University Place. “The PGA Tour is doing everything they can to ensure people’s safety. That is all we can ask.
“Everyone has to hold themselves accountable.”
Putnam clearly recalls the moment he got notice the PGA Tour season was officially on hold. He had just returned to the hotel after finishing a late-afternoon first round at The Players Championship in mid-March.
“I got a text at 10 p.m. saying it was canceled,” Putnam said. “That was pretty strange. Then everyone was trying to get out of there as fast as they could.”
It began a 91-day hiatus for PGA Tour golfers, including Putnam, who took advantage of the time off to sell the family’s house in Arizona and drive a U-Haul with belongings back to Washington state.
Golf? He practiced a little in Arizona, then played a few rounds when courses opened back up in Washington in early May.
“It was the longest break I’ve had (in tournament golf) since high school when I played basketball during the winter,” Putnam said.
Putnam was in the field at the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial the week of June 8 – the first tournament back after the three-month interruption.
He said golfers picked up their “sanitized” courtesy cars at the airport, and drove directly to a COVID-19 testing center to take a nasal swab.
“They test you before you go (to the course). They test you while you are there. And they test you on the charter (flight). It is a lot,” Putnam said. “They are doing everything possible to keep us safe.”
And yet, even with all the precautions, including no fans allowed to attend the tournaments, a few golfers, including Nick Watney and Cameron Champ, and caddies have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus over the past two weeks.
That prompted PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan this week to announce more on-site testing will be done at events. Also, golfers have been discouraged to go out to restaurants or workout facilities away from the premises.
“If you are caught going out and being loose with your actions, there will be consequences from the (PGA Tour),” Putnam said.
At this time, Putnam – ranked 70th in the world – has decided to tour alone, leaving his wife, Tawny, who is 23 weeks pregnant with the couple’s second child, back in Washington.
“It’s hard to know what to do, and it kind of sucks being out there all alone,” said Putnam, who is in his sixth season on the PGA Tour, totaling $5.5 million in earnings. “You feel kind of quarantined.
“Personally, I am not worried about getting (the virus) myself. We’re athletes. We train. We are healthy. But my worry is bringing it back home to our families – to my wife … and to our parents, and to our grandparents.”