After a few weeks in Scotland that culminated in an incredible win for Cameron Smith at The Open Championship the PGA Tour returns stateside for the 3M Open in Minnesota. If you failed to take our advice on the Australian to get over the top of Justin Thomas in a 72-hole match up fear not… we have a new line up of battles set at TPC Twin Cities.
With only three previous iterations of the tournament having come before this week, finding key stats in the match ups is an exercise in caution, but it can still be done. Current form has not been an indicator of the three previous champions, each of whom performed over and above their season stats to get the job done.
Last season Cameron Champ was victorious at the 3M Open for his third Tour win, doing so with an outstanding putting week during a dismal putting season. Champ entered the week losing -0.965 strokes per round on the greens but had his second-best Strokes Gained: Putting performance in an event of his Tour career, leading the field in SG: Putting gaining +2.120 strokes per round.
He led the field in several putting categories compared to ranking outside 200th in these statistics on the season entering the week. He made 12 putts from over 10 feet, a career best.
Champ also played the par threes at TPC Twin Cities in four under, tying his best par three performance in an event on Tour and he played the par-5 18th hole in one under for the week despite missing the fairway in all four rounds.
In 2021 Michael Thompson won his second career PGA Tour event to rocket from 151st to 39th in the FedExCup standings.
His 19-under total was a career best score to par in a PGA Tour event and he became the first winner in a four-round ShotLink lasered event that season to rank inside the top five in both Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green & Putting. He made 10 putts from outside 10 feet and only recorded one three-putt.
Matthew Wolff earned his first PGA Tour victory in just his fourth start on Tour in 2019 and at just 20 became the second youngest winner on Tour since Jordan Spieth won the John Deere Classic in 2013 at the age of 19.
He eagled the 72nd hole to finish at 21-under for the week. An impressive 95% of Wolff’s strokes gained for the week were a result of his play from tee-to-green. Wolff ranked second in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green outperforming the field by a combined +2.361 strokes per round.
While it was a small sample size at the time Wolff outperformed the field by +3.329 strokes per round from tee to green compared to losing -0.453 strokes per round in his first nine rounds of his Tour career.
Clearly Wolff and Champ are long hitters so it’s easy to lean towards those type this week however Thompson shows it’s not imperative here. Let’s take a peek at Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee as well in case Thompson was the outlier.
Matsuyama was T7 in the 2019 3M Open, his only previous appearance. He’s coming off a T68 at The Open but was fourth at the recent U.S. Open and has wins at the ZOZO Championship and Sony Open in Hawaii this season.
Im was also in the field in 2019 at 3M and clocked a T15. After an early win this season and a decent middle stretch to notch up six top 10s Im has hit the skids with missed cuts at the U.S. Open, Genesis Scottish Open and a T81 at The Open.
Key Stat Ranks (PGA Tour)
Strokes Gained: Putting: Matsuyama 127th, Im 69th
Putts 10-15 feet: Matsuyama 139th, Im 34th
Putts 15-20 feet: Matsuyama 178th, Im 161st
Three putt Avoidance: Matsuyama 130th, Im 190th
Par 3 Performance: Matsuyama 9th, Im 56th
Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green: Matsuyama 3rd, Im 71st
Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee: Matsuyama 66th, Im 12th
This is a fascinating match up of Asian stars who are looking to get their groove back. While Matsuyama has the greater resume and Im’s last three starts haven’t been good, his putter is way hotter than Matsuyama’s. With his tee ball looking better as well, we smell an upset.
Will the summer of “Cam” continue with another Aussie starting to trend towards a victory? Davis will defend his Rocket Mortgage Classic title next week but first he looks to ride back-to-back top 10s on the PGA Tour into another. Those took his total for the season to five. His three 3M Opens have yielded a MC, T12 and T28.
McNealy was T16 in his first 3M Open last season and is riding a run of T8, T16, T9 in his last three starts this season. That pair of recent top-10s make it four for the season.
Key Stat Ranks (PGA Tour)
Strokes Gained: Putting: Davis 87th, McNealy 33rd
Putts 10-15 feet: Davis 77th, McNealy 126th
Putts 15-20 feet: Davis 64th, McNealy 102nd
Three putt Avoidance: Davis 51st, McNealy 43rd
Par 3 Performance: Davis 6th, McNealy 27th
Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green: Davis 72nd, McNealy 87th
Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee: Davis 71st, McNealy 50th
There honestly isn’t much between these two in the key stats and or their seasons. They both are running hot the last month or so and it will likely come down to who makes the most putts. While Davis has the edge between 10-20 feet it is McNealy who putts better overall. So, he’s the pick.
Theegala put himself in the mix through two rounds at The Open before fading Saturday to ultimately finish T34 at St. Andrews but with five top 10s this season, including a runner up at the Travelers and a T5 at the Memorial Tournament in recent times, he remains a young talent not to underestimate. He missed the cut in his lone appearance at the 3M Open in 2020.
Riley is making his 3M debut and is well rested since the Travelers where he was T64. Has six top 10s this season including a playoff loss in the Valspar Championship and four others in the last three months.
Key Stat Ranks (PGA Tour)
Strokes Gained: Putting: Theegala 144th, Riley 73rd
Putts 10-15 feet: Theegala 147th, Riley 114th
Putts 15-20 feet: Theegala 172nd, Riley 15th
Three putt Avoidance: Theegala 56th, Riley 137th
Par 3 Performance: Theegala 122nd, Riley 40th
Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green: Theegala 73rd, Riley 64th
Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee: Theegala 74th, Riley 47th
While Theegala looks like a future multiple time PGA Tour winner it is Riley who has a heavy key stat advantage this week. Theegala also looked a little worse for wear over the weekend at St. Andrews. Riley is the safe bet.
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