Tommy Fleetwood was able to learn plenty during the enforced break from golf and says his game is getting better and better after firing himself into contention at the US PGA Championship.
After a steady but largely sedate level-par opening round, Fleetwood carded a brilliant six-under-par 64 at TPC Harding Park on Friday to sit two shots back of leader Li Haotong.
This weekend is golf's first major of 2020 with the season having been suspended for three months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Fleetwood, who has runners-up finishes as the 2018 U.S. Open and last year's Open Championship on his resume, appreciates what he missed during the time away from course and feels his game is in decent nick.
"It really is different. I like playing golf, and I played golf over the break, but it's not the same," he said.
"Tournament golf, even on a course that's scoreable – the margins for error are so much smaller than leisurely golf. You play at a different pace and the setups are very different.
"So I've learned a lot from going away and coming back. When you're playing 30 times a year, you don't realise what a groove you're getting in or how sharp you really are – even when you're not playing at your best.
"Like I said, I feel like my game is getting better and better. I'm not gonna say I'm playing the best I've ever played, or I'm feeling as sharp as I've ever felt, but it's definitely coming back, and days like today – a major championship and I've shot a great score – shows I'm hopefully not too far off."
The Englishman feels his ability to find fairways was the difference between his first and second round scores.
"I had that bad couple of holes on 12 and 13, which, you know, on a tough day you don't want to give too much away, and that kind of halted progress," Fleetwood added.
"Level par wasn't a bad score. I was disappointed when I came in because I felt like I had a round going at a certain time, but it was fine.
"And today [Friday], just the same – I feel like my game is improving day by day really since I've come back to playing a little bit.
"I think I hit a lot of good golf shots. In the wind, it puts such an emphasis on ball control and I think sometimes what looks like an average golf shot is a very, very good golf shot. And you have to remind yourself of that.
"I hit a lot of fairways and that clearly makes it easier from there around this golf course."