Then, when Jamie Arnold arrived in Florida for the Korn Ferry Tour’s first tournament back since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the suspension of the season, he had to pass through four drive-thru check-points before the invasive nasal swab “up the back of your brain” to test again for coronavirus.
“It took 10
or 15 seconds but it felt like an hour.”
awaited yet another negative result that would grant him a lanyard indicating
his all-clear status, Arnold was permitted to practise at Dye’s Valley Course
at TPC Sawgrass, but only after subjecting himself to another thermal
hand sanitising stations on the driving range, on the tee box of almost every
hole and food consisted wholly of pre-packaged fare.
It’s a far
cry from the Sydney native’s debut season on the secondary US Tour in 2017 but
he knows such measures are necessary if the roadshow is to continue into The
King and Bear Classic at World Golf Village starting Wednesday and beyond.
definitely very different but at least we’re out there playing,” said Arnold,
who posted the low round of the week – a 7-under 63 in the second round – in
the Korn Ferry Challenge at TPC Sawgrass last week.
that we’re only one outbreak away from the season being done or events not
that. The Tour has stressed so much the No.1 thing is practising social
distancing not only on the golf course but at home or wherever you’re staying.
that if we’re not careful and we start high-fiving and going to eat out and
doing things that we used to do, one person getting it and spreading it can
shut us down as quick as we opened back up.
trying to do our best and be safe, all the little things we can do so hopefully
we can play the rest of the season.”
10th at the Australian Open in December, Arnold missed graduating to the PGA
TOUR last year in heartbreaking fashion and had made a positive start to his
2020 campaign, making the cut in the first four events and posting a tie for
12th at the Country Club de Bogota Championship.
balls on the range following his opening round last Thursday gave Arnold the
confidence to shoot 63 the following day – “I could have shot in the 50s” – and
the belief that an extended wrap-around season that will conclude with the 2021
Korn Ferry Tour finals will work in his favour.
season creates more opportunities for me to win and to play well more
consistently,” said the 36-year-old Cronulla Golf Club product.
possible that by the end of the season we could end up with 49 events so I’m
looking at it as a plus.
season is longer consistent players who play 40-odd events and play well should
be able to finish inside the top 25.
downside is that we’re not going to graduate up onto the PGA TOUR this year but
I thought this was a better option than having only 12 events.
“It makes it
more of a marathon than a sprint.”
be back out playing and planning on teeing it up in five of the first six
events of the season resumption, Arnold revelled in an extended stay at home.
matches at his home club of Druid Hills Golf Club in Atlanta and visits to TPC
Sugarloaf to play in mini tournaments organised by former Open champion Stewart
Cink were mixed in with practice, walks with the dogs and home-schooling his
young son Luke.
“It made me
realise that having the life that we live, you do miss a lot of stuff at home,”
said Arnold, Luke learning to ride a bike a highlight of his COVID-19
“There are a
lot of people who see the glamour of travel and the money that people can make
but there’s something really nice about waking up in your own bed, being with
your family and being able to spend all those moments together.
“I slept the
best I’ve ever slept during this break. There’s always so much pressure in
golf. You’re always thinking about what you can do better. I feel like your
brain’s always on and when I was home and knew we weren’t going to be playing
for a while I slept so good.
“I woke up
every day feeling so refreshed. I feel like I’ve never really had that before,
where I’ve had nothing to worry about.
together as a family was really cool. I enjoyed it.”