3M Open: Make it Clark in Minnesota

American Wyndham Clark
American Wyndham Clark has some good credentials

Dave Tindall has three each-way picks for this week's new event - the 3M Open at TPC Twin Cities in Minnesota...

"The 25-year-old sits 7th for Driving Distance and 16th for Birdie Average – a ranking boosted by him making 13 par breakers on the weekend at Detroit Golf Club last week."

Main Bet: Wyndham Clark each-way @ 125/1

For the second week running, we have a new tournament and new course to test us.

At the Rocket Mortgage Classic, the outcome was baffling with Wednesday alternate Nate Lashley cruising to victory, with Doc Redman in second.

While it's tempting to look at this event and use the shrug emoticon, at least we have some logic to investigate... I think.

Twin Cities TPC in Blaine, an Arnold Palmer design, has been the regular home of the Champions Tour's 3M Championship.

Looking at its roll-call of champions and the course's best exponent was Kenny Perry, who won there in 2014, 2015 and 2018.

The science may be slightly less than watertight but it may be worth looking at how Perry performed in the seasons he took victory. In other words, what sort of player is he? What does he do well that works to great effect here?

It's a fairly simple outcome. In 2014, 2015 and 2018, Perry ranked 4th, 2nd and 1st respectively for Driving Distance and 8th, 2nd and 9th for Birdie Average.

In other words, using Perry's numbers, it's a logical step to think that bashing the ball a long way and making a bunch of birdies is a good recipe for Twin Cities TPC - as it is on so many American courses.

There are plenty of obvious stars when looking at both current lists but one interesting name in the top 20 of both is Wyndham Clark.

The 25-year-old sits 7th for Driving Distance and 16th for Birdie Average - a ranking boosted by him making 13 par breakers on the weekend at Detroit Golf Club last week.

Clark was tied 17th there and it followed a tied 15th in the Travelers Championship.

Earlier this season, he scored back-to-back top 10s in the Puerto Rico Open and Honda Classic so he's certainly found a groove again after a run of six missed cuts from the end of April to early June.

We're on a 7,468-yard layout this week with some drivable par 4s so Clark has the chance to let rip off the tee.

He's 15th in Par 4 Birdie or Better leaders and 8th in Par 5 Birdie or Better while his one obvious weakness - driving the ball straight - will go unpunished here more than it will at most venues.

Clark is 190th in Driving Accuracy and that has a negative effect on his GIR rating

On these easy-to-hit fairways, he'll be playing more shots from the short grass and hopefully set up even more birdie tries. His top 10 ranking in Strokes Gained: Putting shows that the potential is there for him to have a Lashley-style week on the greens.

It's a little speculative but the 125/1 is worth a look.

Next Best: Cameron Champ (W/O Day, DeChambeau, Koepka, Matsuyama, Reed) each-way @ 66/1

The other player ranking high in Driving Distance and Birdie Average is Cameron Champ.

The 24-year-old tops the DD charts with an average blow of 317.1 yards and he's a very healthy 19th in Birdie Average.

Going back to Kenny Perry, the overriding impression I had of him as a player was probably crystalized in the 2009 Masters.

All set to win the green jacket through some relentless tee-to-green play, the lack of a magic short game caught up with him when he bogeyed the final two holes before losing a play-off.

Champ is 1st for Driving Distance and 10th for Greens In Regulation this season but there's a weakness in his short game as he ranks 197th in Scrambling and 201st in SG: Around-The-Green.

Perry won one of his Twin Cities titles with 33% Scrambling stats so perhaps Champ's Achilles Heel won't be overly tested.

Rather than focus on that negative, though, let's look at bare results and Champ, of course, is already a winner on the PGA Tour.

Champ ranked 55th for Scrambling that week but did it with long game (1st DD, 9th GIR) and putting (1st Putting Average).

He followed that win with a run of 28-10-6-11 to highlight his enormous potential and during that heady few months he shot rounds of 62, 63, 64 and 65 twice so the boy can go low!

It's been a bit of a slump since with missed cuts all over the place but he reminded us of his talents when opening up 66-65 to sit second at halfway at last week's Rocket Mortgage Classic before falling away on the weekend to 46th.

Asked about his dip during his second-round press conference last week, Champ revealed: "I'm still young. I just turned 24, so I had a lot coming at me and distractions. I had to just really adjust and prioritise what's important to me.

"It was good personally, it was kind of a wake-up call. And I've been working hard, so it's just nice to see the results coming.

"Even the last few events. I missed a few of the cuts, but I was playing well, just making a few kind of silly mistakes, so I knew I was close."

That all seems like a decent explanation so hopefully he can keep it going for 72 holes this time.

He's 66/1 outright but the same price without Jason Day, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Hideki Matsuyama and Patrick Reed.

That market is 1/4 five places instead of 1/5 seven places.

Final Bet: Sung-Hoon Kang each-way @ 80/1

Finally, I'm going to change direction and go down another slightly unusual/fascinating/highly dubious route!

While many were quick to jump on the Donald Ross angle last week, how about looking at form on other Arnold Palmer tracks?

Our friend Kenny Perry provides a nice link as he has a win and a second at Arnie's most famous creation, Bay Hill.

Hale Irwin is also a three-time champ at Twin Cities and he too has triumphed at Bay Hill.

Another angle - I'll need your patience with this one - is that the most famous golf course in Minnesota is Hazeltine.

Anyone remember what happened in the 2009 USPGA there? Yes, that was the year that Korean YE Yang famously took down Tiger Woods, becoming the first player to stop the great man when he'd led after 54 holes of a major.

With that Korean-Minnesota link now, erm, firmly established, imagine if we were to look at this year's Bay Hill leaderboard and find some Koreans on there. They would have correlating course form and also be fuelled with inspiration from Yang's feat 10 years ago.

Well, it just so happens that there were three Koreans in the top 10 at Bay Hill this year - Sungjae Im, Sung-Hoon Kang and Byeong Hun An.

Im at 33s is an option (An isn't playing) but the one that interests me most is Kang at 80/1.

Even if you don't buy into the Minnesota/Bay Hill stuff, there's no getting away from the fact that Kang knows how to go low and that's what we want this week.

Earlier this season, Kang shot a 61 in round two to win the Byron Nelson Championship while he once fired a 60 in round two of the Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Since following that breakthrough victory in Texas with a tied seventh in the PGA Championship, Kang has missed three cuts - hence the 80/1.

But he'd missed back-to-back cuts before his Byron Nelson win so I'm not worried that he suddenly can't play the game.

Kang and Im both booked Open places thanks to their high finishes at Bay Hill so the positive associations with Arnie are fresh.

If playing shorter prices this week, I'd have taken Patrick Reed at 22s and Rory Sabbatini at 30s but I'm not particularly keen to play at those odds in a bit of a random week like this.

Viktor Hovland would have been a nice bet too at around 50s. Instead, he's 25s. No.

Being honest, it's a tough week but let's see what unravels and hopefully Clark, Champ and Kang can come up with the goods.

Dave's 2018/19 PGA Tour P/L (based on £5 ew per selection outrights, £10 win top 5s/10s)

Staked: £960
Returned: £539
P/L: -£421

P/L: +£362.84

P/L: +£1179.89

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