By Tom LaMarre
After most of the best golfers in the world played in Europe the last two weeks in the Genesis Scottish Open and the 150th Open Championship on the Old Course at St. Andrews, the PGA Tour returns with a stroke-play event in the 3M Open at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine, Minn.
None of the top 10 players in the world will make it back from Scotland to play in Minnesota, but there are seven major champions in the field including Jason Day of Australia, Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa, Stewart Cink, Charl Schwartzel of South Africa, Danny Willett of England and Lucas Glover.
Other top players who will be on hand at TPC Twin Cities include defending champion Cameron Champ of Sacramento (pictured), Tony Finau, Sungjae Im of South Korea, Adam Hadwin of Canada, J.T. Poston, Rickie Fowler of Murrieta, Martin Laird of Scotland, Charles Howell III and Chez Reavie, who claimed his third PGA Tour victory last week in the Barracuda Championship.
Champ earned his third PGA Tour victory in the 3M Open last year when he closed with a 5-under-par 66 to win by two strokes over Oosthuizen, Schwartzel and Jhonattan Vegas of Venezuela and Charl Schwartzel of South Africa.
Even though he won, Champ was criticized by TV commentators Frank Nobilo, Colt Knost and Dottie Pepper for going with his driver off the tee on the final hole with a two-stroke lead, hitting his drive his shot into trouble and having to scramble for an exciting par.
“Obviously, I made it a little interesting,” said Champ, who played college golf at Texas A&M “You know, we’re still young. I just turned 26. Obviously, I’ve done a lot and I’ve had some success, but at the end of the day, I still have to figure out myself and how I’m going to manage both of those sides.
“I feel like whenever I get in those moments, I’m super comfortable and super in the zone, and it feels like it’s mine to take. It’s not so much mine to lose, I feel like it’s mine to take. I feel that’s how it was this time, too.
“In order for me to enjoy the game and for it to be fun, I have to be true to myself and who I truly am as a person. That’s kind of how I’ve been on the course.”
TPC Twin Cities, designed by Arnold Palmer and opened in 2000 before being renovated in 2018 by Steve Wenzloff, has hosted the 3M Open in all three years of its existence.
Before that, it played host to a PGA Tour Champions event for several years.
“It’s a great track and a lot of fun to play,” Oosthuizen said last season. “We had a good time out there.”
There are only three events remaining in the PGA Tour regular season and many players are scrambling to climb into the top 125 in the FedEx Cup standings, or remain there, so they can make it to the FedEx St. Jude Championship that opens the playoffs and hopefully get to the Tour Championship that caps the season at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.
1. Hideki Matsuyama, Japan – By winning the Zozo Championship and the Sony Open in Hawaii among six top-10 results this season, including fourth in the U.S. Open and a tie for 14th in the Masters, Matsuyama ranks eighth in the FedEx Cup standings. He tied for seventh in his only appearance in the 3M Open in 2019, opening with a 64 and playing the weekend in 66-68.
2. J.T. Poston, United States – Poston claimed his second PGA Tour victory in the John Deere Classic after tying for second in the Travelers Championship a week earlier, in addition to tying for third in the RBC Heritage. He made his first appearance in the 3M Open last season and posted three scores in the 60s, but shot 76 in the third round and wound up in a tie for 28th.
3. Adam Hadwin, Canada – A five-time winner as a pro, including the 2017 Valspar Championship, Hadwin has recorded five finishes in the top 10 on the PGA Tour this season, including a tie for seventh in the U.S. Open. He has played in the 3M Open twice, finishing solo fourth in 2019 and tying for sixth last season, recording seven scores in the 60s in eight rounds.
4. Tony Finau, United States – A two-time winner on the PGA Tour after also winning on what is now the Korn Ferry Tour, Finau has finished second in the Mexico Open and the RBC Canadian among five top-25 finishes this season. His best result in three starts in the 3M Open was a tie for third two years ago, and he has broken 70 in 10 of his 12 rounds in the event.
5. Sungjae Im, South Korea – Claimed his second victory on the PGA Tour and fifth as a pro earlier this season in the Shriners Children’s Open among six finishes in the top 10 and 12 in the top 25, including a tie for eighth in the Masters. Im made his only appearance in the 3M Open in 2019 and opened with 65 before shooting 70-68-67 the rest of the way to finish in a tie for 15th.
6. Jason Day, Australia – The former top-ranked player in the world has played some good golf this season despite a back injury that forced him to miss all the majors except when he tied for 55th in the PGA Championship. When reasonably healthy, Day tied for third in the Farmers Insurance Open. In his only start in the 3M Open in 2019, he could manage only a tie for 66th.
7. Cameron Champ, United States – Earned his third victory on the PGA Tour when he captured the 3M Open by two strokes over Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Jhonattan Vegas. Also won the 2019 Sanderson Farms and the 2020 Safeway Open. Champ’s best finishes this season were a tie for 10th in the Masters and a tie for sixth in the Mexico Open at Vidanta.
8. Davis Riley, United States – After winning twice on the Korn Ferry Tour last season, Riley came close on the PGA Tour this year when he lost in a playoff to Sam Burns at the Valspar Championship, shooting 62 in round three. That is one of his six results in the top 10 this season, including a tie for fourth in the Charles Schwab Challenge. Making his debut in the 3M Open.
9. Danny Willett, England – The 2016 Masters champion has won eight times as a professional, including the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship earlier this season on the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland on the DP World Tour. Willett’s best finish on the PGA Tour this year was a tie for 12th in the Masters, and he is making his first appearance in the 3M Open this week.
10. Chez Reavie, United States – Coming off his third PGA Tour victory last week in the Barracuda Championship at Lake Tahoe under the Modified Stableford scoring system, Reavie also has tied for eighth in the Travelers Championship and tied for 10th in the Genesis Invitational this season. He tied for 11th in his first appearance in the 3M Open last year.
OTHER PLAYERS TO WATCH: Rickie Fowler, United States; Lucas Glover, United States; Dylan Frittelli, South Africa; Martin Laird, Scotland; Ryan Palmer, United States; Charles Howell III, United States; Stewart Cink, United States; Cameron Davis, Australia; Nick Watney, United States; Garrick Higgo, South Africa.
1. Maverick McNealy United States – Ex-Stanford star has a solo second in Fortinet, T-7 in Genesis, T-8 in John Deere, T9 in Barracuda this season. T-16 in his 3M Open debut last year.
2. Sahith Theegala, United States – Rookie from Pepperdine has T-2 in Travelers, T-3 in Phoenix, T-5 in Memorial, T-7 in Valspar, T-8 in Sanderson Farms. Missed cut in 3M last year.
3. Hurly Long, Germany – Two-time winner as a professional is coming off a solo fourth in the Barbasol and solo seventh in the Barracuda in his last two starts. Making first appearance in 3M.
4. Michael Thompson, United States – One of three pro titles came in the 2019 3M Open and this season he has T-5 in the Sony Open in Hawaii, T-9 in the Barracuda, T-11 in the Farmers.
5. Austin Smotherman, United States – Has won twice on lower tours and this season has solo eighth in Barracuda last week, T-11 in Farmers, T-25 Byron Nelson. First 3M Open appearance.
For first-round tee times, visit https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html