MEMPHIS — Tommy Fleetwood could only smile as the memories of his mother’s daily encouraging messages flashed through his head.
It has been a little more than a year since Fleetwood’s mother, Sue, passed away at the age of 60. He still knows what she would have texted him Friday after he sat tied for third on the leaderboard through two rounds of the 2023 FedEx St. Jude Championship at TPC Southwind.
“She would have sent her usual text saying well played,” Fleetwood said.
Fleetwood didn’t participate in last year’s FedEx Cup Playoffs. He missed the Memphis trip after playing at TPC Southwind in each of the previous three years.
Fleetwood is on pace to have one of his best finishes at the course in his career through Friday. He’s 8 under, two shots behind the lead of Lucas Glover, after carding a 66 in the second round.
His best finish at TPC Southwind was a tie for fourth in 2019. He followed that up with a 35th place finish in 2020 and 46th in 2021.
All of those experiences can help Fleetwood as he deals with a course that could play drastically different in the next two days. The tournament started with a three-hour delay Thursday as rain poured onto the course. Friday’s hot and sunny day was just the beginning of the scorching heat expected on Saturday and Sunday.
“I’m interested to see the weather over the next few days because in general, in the times I’ve played, it firms up so much,” Fleetwood said. “The course gets firmer, faster, rough gets dryer, plays very different than Thursday and Friday morning.”
When his mother passed away last July, he didn’t return to golf until October. Since then, he has recorded six top-10 finishes. Two of those came at majors: fifth at the U.S. Open and a tie for 10th at the Open Championship. He’s currently projected 15th in the FedEx standings.
Maybe it’s a coincidence that Fleetwood’s best play is coming right now, but he’s valuing the golf and life lessons his mother taught him as he reflects on the past year.
“Up until the day she passed, she was still texting me everyday every time I played golf,” Fleetwood said. “I think (my parents) gave me a lot of lessons on how to be a parent.”