After 18 years on the PGA Tour Champions as the 3M Championship, this tournament became the 3M Open in 2019 and continued to use TPC Twin Cities as its home. So, we have limited information to go on as regards main tour records, but some information that can be inferred from the round bellies. A key factor this week is the on-rushing FedExCup PlayOffs. There are three tournament weeks between now and the cut-off so players are seeking a spot there or safety from the Korn Ferry Tour Finals. Plenty to play for, in other words.
TPC Twin Cities
The course is an Arnold Palmer design (unveiled in 2000), although it underwent a renovation in 2018, ahead of the tournament’s graduation to the main tour. Palmer liked, as you might imagine from his legend, to favor aggressive drivers of the ball: his principles allowed that the bold could gain a significant advantage with their firrst blow.
The players are faced with a 7,431 yard test that plays to a par of 71 with bluegrass rough and bent grass on the greens. There is a lot of water on this track and it is used cunningly by Palmer. If the conservative want to play their usual way, there is loads of room. But there are always options to chop off distance by taking on the water hazards. The smart golfer knows when to press and when to stick. Going low matters: Michael Thompson won last year, starting with a 7-under 64 and ending the week 19-under. In 2018 Matthew Wolff had a 62 on his way to a winning total of 21-under.
Adam Long said of the course: “There’s a lot of intimidating shots out there. There’s room to miss and stuff, but there’s a lot of water out there as we saw the first few days. It’s kind of in your face, you can’t avoid it. You just have to kind of step up and hit a golf shot a lot of times out there. So it provides a lot of birdies, but it’s also pretty visually intimidating.” Tom Lehman added: “Fairways here have always been wide and we narrowed them up some. They get narrower and narrower as you get out into that 310, 320 territory. So my fairway is still a little bit wider.”
The weather for Blaine, Minneapolis is set fair. Expect sunny weather, a little cloud every now and then, gentle breezes, and temperatures in the 80s. Humidity should be below 50 percent all week. There looks little to trouble the field.
Past Champions in the 3M Open
In many ways the two PGA Tour winners here could hardly have triumphed in more contrasting ways. Matthew Wolff led the field in Strokes Gained Tee to Green and was 39th for SG Putting. Last year Michael Thompson was 17th for SG Tee to Green and first for Putting. But Wolff was second for SG Approach and Thompson fourth.
Thomson said of the test: “They definitely make you think. If you’re not confident over the ball, you’re more likely to make a poor swing which is going to result in a penalty. So you have to be really diligent with your visualizations, your commitment to each shot and pick your target, trust it.”
I’m not sure too much can be gleaned from this, but one thing Wolff and Thompson do have in common is they’ve both finished second in the U.S. Open (in 2020 and 2012 respectively). What might make sense is that the national championship is very testing visually from the tee, but that’s because of thick rough, not H2O.
Kenny Perry won three of the last five Champions events on the track. He was a long and also straight driver (he also, for what it is worth, finished third in the U.S. Open).
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|C. Howell III
Dustin Johnson ($11,300) Carded a 65 and a 67 on his way to T–8 last week at the British Open, his best finish since February and he said afterward: “A really good week, hit a lot of great shots, and I’m happy with where the game is. I’ve got a lot of confidence, so looking for a good week at the 3M.” Never missed the cut in 10 visits to Palmer’s TPC Boston, with six top 20s, five of them top 10s including a win on his last start there.
Maverick McNealy ($8,400) Maverick by name and, hopefully, also by nature from the tee this week. In the top two all week at Palmer’s Lakewood National on the second tier two years ago and made three of four cuts on Palmer courses at PGA Tour level. Finished top 30 in each of his last four starts. Found his feet and ready to make a move.
Ryan Moore ($7,800) Missed the cut on debut in 2019, but really due to just one bad round. Atoned for that with four solid laps in 2020 to finish the week T–12. A solid T–2 last time out at the John Deere Classic and he’s also a strong 9-for-12 when it comes to playing all four rounds at TPC Boston.
Charles Howell III ($7,700) Landed a solid T–23 for us last time out on a favored track and that’s very much him: he repeats good performances where he’s a good fit. Finished T–23 and T–3 in the tournament, has made 18-of-21 cuts at Palmer’s Bay Hill and 13-of-16 cuts at Palmer’s TPC Boston. Yeah, he likes a Palmer test all right.
Tom Lewis ($7,000) Back in 2011 Lewis led the Open at Royal St George’s after round one as an amateur so he might well be musing on not having been there last week. This might be a good spot for him to get the bit between his teeth. Later in that year he won the Portugal Masters at Palmer’s Dom Pedro and he’s won that event since, too. He’s made his last four cuts and shared the lead at halfway in the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
Brian Gay ($6,000) There may not be many folk who need prompting to give Brian Gay a swerve this week, but for those whose eye has wandered toward him: just don’t do it. He’s never made a top 20 at TPC Boston in 10 tries (and only one top 50), has zero top 20s in 18 appearances at Bay Hill, and has finished T–56, MC here.
Here’s Another Alternate of Core Picks For the 3M Open
Sergio Garcia ($9,900) No top 20 in a major for the Spaniard since the year he won the Masters and then two in a month: T–19 at both the U.S. and British Opens. He’s also landed four top 20s in a row, too. And he has 10 U.S. Open top 20s in all. Oh, and he loves a Palmer test. He’s 10-for-11 at making the weekend when traveling to Bay Hill (with six top 10s) and 7-for-7 at TPC Boston (all of them top 40). He also made a top 10 the only time he played Dom Pedro in Portugal (another Palmer exam). Good vibes for a debutant.
Emiliano Grillo ($9,300) Very strong from the tee so Palmer designs suit him and he was T–3 on debut last year. Also 4-for-4 at both Boston and Bay Hill. T–12 last week in the British Open, an eighth top 25 of 2021.
Gary Woodland ($8,000) Making his course bow, but a good price for a quality golfer. A major champion, indeed, and guess what? It was in the possibly important U.S. Open. He has a very solid bank of work at TPC Boston (eight starts, seven cuts made, six top 30s) and also Bay Hill (six starts, four cuts made, three top 30s).
Chris Kirk ($7,900) T–12 at the Rocket Mortgage Classic was followed by an opening lap of 68 in the British Open before he tripped up with a second day 74 to miss the cut. Take heed of what went before and a stellar Palmer record. He was T–41 here last year on debut, he has four top 20s in his last five Bay Hill visits (and five in total), and we haven’t even got to Boston yet. He won there in 2014 and hasn’t missed a cut in eight visits.
Troy Merritt ($7,500) Another sneaky fan of Palmer. He’s 2-for-3 at TPC Boston, 3-for-3 at Bay Hill (including T–3 in 2016), and he was also T–7 here in 2019 before missing the cut last year. Went on a run of 7-for-8 recently, ending with playoff defeat. Two missed cuts since, but this is the place to bounce back.
Lucas Herbert ($8,500) Made the top 20 at TPC River Highlands, then won the Irish Open and showed up a week later at the Scottish Open saying he’d done very little practive because he was exhausted after three weeks on the road. In point of fact it was only his third week and he did land fourth, but a missed cut followed at the British. At this price he’s simply not worth the risk of further fatigue. There will be many better opportunities to spend on this Aussie.
StrategyKeeping it simple. I’ll favor players who know what they’re doing from the tee box. If they are bold, fine. But I want guys who play that way time and time again rather than being pushed out of their comfort zone. A little U.S. Open form might not go amiss based on that tee box test. And Palmer form. He (re)designed Bay Hill, designed TPC Boston, Lakewood (on the Korn Ferry Tour), and, in Europe, The K Club and Dom Pedro.
Other Player Options For The 3M Open
• Steve Stricker finished T–3 here on the Champions Tour and has opted to play this event instead of the Senior British Open. He’s made the cut in his last three regular PGA starts.
• Cameron Tringale is having a bold year and maintained it with a top 30 in the British Open; he was T–42 at the course in 2019 and T–3 last year.
• Hank Lebioda has made the cut in his last seven starts, five of them top 30s, the last three all top 10s. He’s 2-for-2 at the course.
COVID-19 and Injury Warning:
Pro DFS players know it makes sense to stay up-to-date on Twitter, DraftKings, FanDuel and-or subscribe to any number of email feeds and whatever to remain up to speed with injuries or COVID-19 withdraws. Players that don’t make the cut are tough enough. Players that don’t play all four rounds (even when pulling out at the last minute) make for a pretty weak lineup.
Go win your lineups and then tell us how you did. Twitter (@FantasyDFSX) is a good place for that.
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