The PGA Tour moves on to Minnesota this week for just the second renewal of the 3M Open. Read Steve's thoughts on the Tournament here...
“We’ve only had one edition of this event and just two editions of the Rocker Mortgage Classic in Detroit but early indications suggest the two events correlate very nicely.”
Following Jon Rahm's brilliant success at Muirfield Village on Sunday, the PGA Tour heads north-east from Iowa to Minnesota this week, for the second edition of the 3M Open.
Although a new name on the PGA Tour last year, the 3M Open replaced the 3M Championship on the Champions Tour, which had been staged at this week's venue, TPC Three Cities, since 2001.
TPC Three Cities, Blaine, Minnesota.
Par 71, 7, 468 yards
Stroke Index in 2019 - 69.45
The Arnold Palmer designed, TPC Three Cities, opened in 2000 and in addition to this event 12 months ago, it was also the host course for the 3M Championship on the Champions Tour between 2001 and 2018.
Prior to the inaugural event last year, it was said of the course that "the former sod farm had been transformed into a rolling landscape featuring 27 bodies of water, restoring several natural wetlands while framing holes with stands of mature oak and spruce trees."
Kenny Perry won three of the last five editions of the 3M Championship, winning the final edition after shooting 60 in round two. David Frost won the 2010 edition by seven strokes with a 25-under-par total and three of the last five winners amassed a winning score of at least 20-under-par. And Champions Tour events are staged over just three rounds!
Since Perry's final win here, and prior to last year's inaugural staging of this event, the course was altered somewhat with Minnesota native, Tom Lehman, who also helped with the initial design, brought in to oversee a toughening up of the track. Mature trees were planted, fairways were narrowed slightly, new tees were constructed and the course was lengthened by 354 yards in total. It certainly made a bit of difference although the eventual winner, Matthew Wolff, still got to 21-under-par.
There have been further changes again this time around. Fairways have been narrowed on five holes, including the par five 18th, and bunkers on 10 holes had been reworked.
The Bentgrass greens will be set at 12.5 on the stimpmeter, which is exactly the same as last year's renewal.
Live on Sky Sports all four days, starting with Featured Group coverage from 14:00 on Thursday (UK time) Full coverage begins at 19:30.
Inaugural Winner with Pre-event Exchange Price
2019 - Matthew Wolff -21 220.0219/1
What Will it Take to Win the 3M Open?
Looking at the stats for the inaugural edition last year, the first three home, Wolff, Collin Morikawa and Bryson DeChambeau, ranked 36th, 11th and 19th for Driving Distance and tied 31st , 22nd and tied 31st for Driving Accuracy and they ranked tied sixth, 36th and tied sixth for Greens In Regulation.
The winner, Wolff, only ranked 62nd for Scrambling, which is quite ironic given he holed from off the green at the 72nd for eagle and the win, but DeChambeau ranked second and Morikawa ranked 25th.
As you'd expect with a low scoring event, putting on the Bentgrass greens proved to be pivotal and the three had Putting Average rankings of sixth, third and 14th.
Is There an Angle In?
We've only had one edition of this event and just two editions of the Rocker Mortgage Classic in Detroit but early indications suggest the two events correlate very nicely. Both are low scoring birdie-fests on straightforward layouts so it makes sense.
Staged just three weeks ago, the Rocket Mortgage Classic, played at Detroit Golf Club, was won by DeChambeau, who managed to catch and pass third round leader, Wolff. In addition to those two, Canada's Adam Hadwin was fourth in Detroit, as well as fourth in this 12 months ago and Troy Merritt finished tied for eighth. He was tied seventh here 12 months ago.
Inaugural Winner's Positions and Exchange Prices Pre-Round Four
2019 - Matthew Wolff - tied for the lead 8.88/1
With only one edition to look back on, we can't draw too many conclusions but Wolff was able to win from some way back. He trailed by seven in a tie for 49th after round one and he was eight adrift in a tie for 35th at halfway so we know it's possible to win from off the pace. He went on to win by one after firing 62-65 over the weekend.
Morikawa had trailed by six strokes at halfway and DeChambeau had led by two. The three players to finish first and tied second, Wolff, DeChambeau and Morikawa, had all been tied for the lead with a round to go suggesting nobody else got a look in but that wasn't the case - it was a dramatic and entertaining finale.
When the final pairing of Morikawa and Wolff were playing the 14th hole on Sunday, seven players were tied for the lead on -17 and a further five players trailed by one. Wyndham Clark, who had begun the final round tied for fourth but just one adrift, was matched at just 2.427/5 when he hit the front with a birdie at the 13th and the two to finish second both went odds-on. Morikawa was matched at 1.84/5 in-running and DeChambeau 1.75/7.
This is surely the only occasion we'll ever have to ponder whether to back the tournament favourite on the back of a pair of 80s? So poorly did Dustin Johnson play at Muirfield last week that he missed the cut by a country mile but is there any other player on the planet more capable of shrugging off a poor performance than DJ?
He's already won three times previously on the back of a missed cut and we probably shouldn't read too much into last week's abject effort - especially given he won the Travelers Championship on his previous start. Even so, given he's playing here for the first time and he missed the cut at the aforementioned Rocket Mortgage Classic last year, I'm more than happy to swerve him.
Vying for second-favouritism, Brooks Koepka simply isn't playing well enough to warrant any interest and Tommy Fleetwood is playing for the first time since March. And the fourth favourite, Tony Finau, needs to pick himself up after a poor performance in-contention at Muirfield.
I was very tempted by the defending champ. Matthew Wolff, given how close he came to winning the Rocket Mortgage Classic but odds of less than 30.029/1 are a bit too skinny so I've played three others that have played well here and in Detroit - Henrik Norlander, Sepp Straka, Troy Merritt and Ted Potter Jr. And I've also backed the latter named two in the Top 10 Finish Market.
Potter is a very interesting contender at a huge price (although I missed the 1000.0). He missed the cut here last year but he finished fifth in the Rocket Mortgage Classic last year and he was in-the-mix there this time around until a poor final round saw him fall from 19th to 66th. He's a mercurial character for sure but he has two wins on the PGA Tour and he's finished inside the top-seven in three of his last 22 starts.
Henrik Norlander @ 70.069/1
Sepp Straka @ 85.084/1
Troy Merritt @ 95.094/1
Ted Potter Jr @ 700.0699/1
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter
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