Tennis pro Mardy Fish makes TOUR debut at 3M Open
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Written by Kevin Prise @PGATOURKevin
Mardy Fish on receiving advice from Stephen Curry before 3M Open
BLAINE, Minn. – Mardy Fish has an affinity for history.
The accomplished tennis pro understands no professional athlete has competed in both an ATP event and a PGA TOUR event.
Fish, winner of six ATP singles and eight doubles titles, is set to change that.
The 40-year-old Minnesota native will compete in this week’s 3M Open on a sponsor exemption, making not only his TOUR debut, but marking the Association of Tennis Professionals’ debut on this stage.
Professional golf has long drawn similarities to tennis for its meritocratic landscape, the concept of earning one’s success on a week-to-week basis.
“It’s just like tennis,” Tiger Woods said of golf at last year’s Hero World Challenge. “You have to go out there and earn it.”
Fish embraces the chance to earn success at TPC Twin Cities, as he follows the likes of high-level professional athletes like Stephen Curry and Tony Romo who have competed on the Korn Ferry Tour in recent years. Neither has been able to make a cut, although Curry sent shockwaves through the sporting world with an opening-round 71 at the 2018 Ellie Mae Classic at TPC Stonebrae.
Fish has proven he can succeed in a competitive golf setting – he won the 2020 American Century Championship, a celebrity golf tournament that is nationally televised. He knows that a PGA TOUR event is a new stage, though, with new challenges.
He looks forward to that challenge.
“Steph (Curry) and I are real close, and so he was texting me out here,” Fish said on Tuesday. “He just said, look, do what you do, do you. He's a really good golfer. We just sort of root for each other in these scenarios as well.
“I certainly don't expect to compete to win the tournament necessarily, but making the cut is something that I'm eyeing big-time. I’ve worked really hard during the last couple of months to get myself into this type of golf shape, long irons into par-4s and long holes and stuff like that. I've played golf my whole life, ever since I could stand, and so you're just hitting a little white ball around.
“Like how do you enjoy it and not play well, or how do you enjoy it and play great? It's difficult to kind of compartmentalize like that. I hope I do. I know I do leading up to it, for sure, but once the tournament starts, you'll kind of jump back into that mode and think that you're as good as these guys out here, and I'm sure that's what I'll do.”
Fish has deep roots in Minnesota – he spent the first five years of his life in the Minneapolis area, and his dad is an alum of the nearby University of Minnesota. He’s a Minnesota sports fan – Vikings, Twins and Timberwolves. He threw the ceremonial first pitch at a Twins game last month, describing it as a bucket-list activity. He has cultivated friendships with Vikings players like Kyle Rudolph and Adam Thielen.
“They’re all Minnesota nice,” laughed Fish.
Fish played competitive tennis, golf and baseball throughout his childhood. He stopped playing golf tournaments at age 14 as he turned his attention to tennis, but he never lost the bug.
He enjoyed a Tuesday practice round at TPC Twin Cities with Rickie Fowler and Camilo Villegas, soaking in how the multi-time TOUR winners approach their preparations for a tournament. He played Wednesday’s pro-am alongside country singer-songwriter Jake Owen, who has also competed at the Korn Ferry Tour level.
The stage now clears for Fish. He tees off at 9:02 a.m. CT Thursday, alongside Chase Seiffert and Seth Reeves.
Two rounds are guaranteed, with the objective of earning a tee time on the weekend.
“Excitement,” Fish said. “Humbleness. It’s special. It really is.”
Kevin Prise is an associate editor for PGATOUR.COM. He is on a lifelong quest to break 80 on a course that exceeds 6,000 yards and to see the Buffalo Bills win a Super Bowl. Follow Kevin Prise on Twitter.