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PGA TOUR: 3M Open preview with Mike Glasscott

The PGA TOUR returns to the Western Hemisphere to wrap up the regular season. TPC Twin Cities, in the Minneapolis suburb of Blaine, Minnesota, will be the first of two final chances to improve FedExCup rankings ahead of the Playoffs. The regular season concludes at the Wyndham Championship next week in Greensboro, North Carolina.

First things first. TPC Twin Cities plays to Par-71 and will stretch to 7,431 yards. Designed by Arnold Palmer in 2000, it was redone by PGA TOUR designer Steve Wenzloff in 2018.

The field of 156, if not already in the top 70 in the FedExCup standings, has plenty to play for these next two weeks.

The current points bubble:

65. Austin Eckroat
66. Keith Mitchell
67. Ben Taylor
68. Ben Griffin
69. Sam Ryder
70. K.H. Lee
71. David Lingmerth
72. Davis Thompson
73. Shane Lowry
74. Lee Hodges
75. Justin Thomas

Everyone on the list above is playing this week, minus Shane Lowry. 

Top of the Board

Cameron Young (14/1) shares the top spot this week after another fantastic week at The Open Championship. Tying for eighth place, the power player from New York will look to turn his recent momentum into his first victory on TOUR. History suggests he should fit right in at TPC Twin Cities after Tony Finau and Cameron Champ, two of the longest guys around, have won the last two editions. Young will have to navigate 27 water penalty areas scattered through 15 holes. A putter that cooperates this week will also go a long way to securing that first title. I usually do not ride chalk, but this week I’ll make an exception.

Sungjae Im (14/1) joins Young at the top of the board. The Korean ran T2 here last season and picked up a share of 15th place on debut in 2019. Earning his keep with the driver, he should excel this week playing from the fairway. Making 38 birdies in two visits and posting 14 under each trip suggests this track fits his eye. His last top 10 on TOUR was in the first week of May at Wells Fargo at Quail Hollow, nine events ago. 

Tony Finau (16/1) returns this week for the fifth consecutive season. After winning here last year, his first victory on TOUR since 2016, the big hitter went on to win the Rocket Mortgage Classic the following week. That momentum carried him to a third win, this time in Houston, in November. Comfortably sitting 10th in the current FedExCup standings, he will look to add another podium finish at TPC Twin Cities (T3, 2020) and break a personal drought of seven straight events without a top 20 payday.

A healthy Hideki Matsuyama (16/1) slides next to Finau as co-second choice this week. Posting T13 at The Open Championship equaled his best finish in 10 since cashing T5 at THE PLAYERS Championship. The Japanese tee-to-green stalwart cashed T7 on debut here in 2019 but withdrew after Round 1 (77). Sitting at No. 54 in the FEC standings, his focus will be on a big finish this week to push him into the top 50 or, even better, with a win, into the top 30.

Emiliano Grillo (22/1) rolls into Minnesota in form and with proper course history. The intersection of both angles is always an eye-catcher. The Argentine ended his drought from 2015 with a playoff victory at the Charles Schwab Challenge in May. Returning from Royal Liverpool with T6 money, he will look to add his third podium finish in four tries after T2 last year and T3 in 2020. Playing from the final group last year, he should be ready to take the next step on his fourth visit.

It is impossible not to consider Sepp Straka (25/1). Winner of the John Deere Classic in early July on the back of rounds of 63 and a closing round of 62, the Austrian decided that was all the prep he needed for The Open Championship. Showing up fresh at Royal Liverpool, he battled the elements, but not his swing, as he posted four rounds of par or better, including both weekend rounds in wet, rainy conditions to share second. Making his fourth start at TPC Twin Cities, he’s cashed once, closing with 63 for T18 in 2020.

Course Angles

The most water balls on TOUR last season were in this event. With 27 water penalty areas scattered across 15 of 18 holes, it is hardly a surprise. 

The big, 6,500 square foot Bentgrass greens will roll true, and those taking advantage of playing from the fairway should be able to get it close. The rough is four inches of Bluegrass/Fescue mix and should be cause for concern when trying to carry the water and bunkers. 

Winners here have demonstrated fantastic ball-striking weeks while others have been fantastic on and around the greens. The scoring average of the event has risen each year with the 2022 event playing the 14th-most difficult of the season (71.438) last year. It was the first time the scoring average was over par.

The winner takes home $1.404 million of the $7.8 million purse, plus 500 FedExCup points.

Others to Consider:

Justin Thomas (28/1) missed the cut last week at The Open after posting 82 in Round 1. Rebounding to post 71 in Round 2 wasn’t enough to play the weekend, but it does grab my attention. So does his commitment, as of now, to play Wyndham next weekend. He’s earned his price this week, and I’m curious to see what he can transfer from Round 2 to his first visit to the 3M Open.

Lucas Glover (35/1) took last week off after racking out three consecutive top-10 paydays. The veteran has a top-10 result on his ledger here, T7 in 2019, but hasn’t broken 72 in his last two visits. I’ll ride a hot, experienced, rested veteran in breezy conditions.

Patrick Rodgers (50/1) was knocked out in a playoff last week by Akshay Bhatia at the Barracuda Championship. Looking for his first TOUR win, Rodgers lost for the second time in extra holes in his career. His fifth top-10 of the season pushed him comfortably inside the top 40 (No. 38). The focus this week can be on the trophy.

Stats Matter

SG: Approach the Green

5Tom Hoge
7Tony Finau
10Gary Woodland
13Mark Hubbard
14Sepp Straka
15Hideki Matsuyama
19Kevin Roy
20Akshay Bhatia
25Lucas Glover
25Ben Martin

Water, water, everywhere! With 27 water penalty areas spread over 15 holes, keeping the ball in play into greens averaging 6,500 yards is a must-do. Missing these large targets will incur bunkers, closely mown areas, and, of course, watery graves. The four previous winners all ranked T19 or better in this category, but three of the four ranked in the top four. Playing away from penalty areas and hazards from the tee will require recovery shots from less-than-ideal lies.

Par-4 Scoring

T5Kevin Yu
T8Aaron Rai
T16Akshay Bhatia
T16Brandon Wu
T20Aaron Baddeley
T20Tony Finau
T20Austin Eckroat
T20Ben Griffin
T20Stephan Jaeger
T20JJ Spaun

Last year, the Par-3 holes played over par. The Par-5 holes were the fifth-most difficult trio on TOUR last season. With 11 chances on the card, five of the holes will play 424 yards or less. The four winners have ranked either T1 or T2 in this category, including three of the four T1. Hitting it close and rolling in the putts on the Bentgrass surfaces running at 12 feet will make for happy days.

Local Sleepers

Tom Hoge (75/1): The North Dakota native ran T4 here last year and smokes it on approach. He won the Minnesota Amateur twice as a kid.

Erik van Rooyen (175/1): He played his collegiate golf at the University of Minnesota and will be paired with his caddie for the first two rounds. That’s right, his bagman was a Monday qualifier!

Troy Merritt (200/1): As a kid, he moved to Minnesota and played high school golf outside the Twin Cities. On his last two visits to the Midwest, he’s cashed T17 in Detroit and T17 at the John Deere Classic in Illinois.

Good luck!

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