Last Updated: 2019-07-02
Last week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic was a new PGA Tour event and Nate Lashley came from literally out of nowhere to win the event. Guess what? We have another brand new event this week with the 3M Open at TPC Twin Cities. Will we see another huge number take down the title or will one of the favorites prevail in the second-to-last tune-up event for The Open Championship?
We’ve got a lot to discuss for this week’s 3M Open. Odds for the event are on the right-hand side for desktop viewers and down below the comment box for mobile viewers.
(for Brian Blessing’s thoughts on this week’s 3M Open, please check out the YouTube video above)
Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm
So those are 12 M’s, but they are in sets of three. That is a great song by the Crash Test Dummies and, if you’ll allow me a little bit of a stretch here, we’ll all be crash test dummies this week at a new event. The state of Minnesota hasn’t hosted a regular PGA Tour event since 1969. Hazeltine has hosted majors, but the last recurring event was the Minnesota Golf Classic. Hazeltine hosted the 2016 Ryder Cup, the 2009 and 2002 PGA Championships, and the 1991 and 1970 US Opens.
TPC Twin Cities had hosted the 3M Championship on the PGA Tour Champions circuit since 1993 until getting this event. This par 71 comes in just under 7,500 yards and is an Arnold Palmer design with input from Tom Lehman.
As you would expect for a northern course in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, there is a lot of water and a lot of trees. This will play long and it is a par 71, so there will be some challenging par 4s for the players this week. The par 5 #6 is a double dogleg that should be a lot of fun. Lehman’s fingerprints are all over the par 4 #7. This looks like a beautiful course with some flawless featured holes.
But, we could see low scores again. This event ranked first or second in birdies on the PGA Tour Champions circuit each of the last seven years.
I’ll Take “Watered Down” for 500
This is still a full points event, with 500 points to the winner. This is only…only…a $6.4 million purse. The winner will take home a cool $1.152 million for the win. That low purse coupled with a trip across the pond in two weeks kept a lot of players from making the northern trek.
Brooks Koepka is the +710 favorite. Jason Day is +1010 and Hideki Matsuyama is +1100 as far as early prices go. Bryson DeChambeau is +1400. Then you’ve got Patrick Reed at +2200 and youngsters Joaquin Niemann and Viktor Hovland at +2800. After that, we’re 30/1 on down. This is probably another week to throw some darts. We didn’t have Nate Lashley last week, and most people didn’t, as he didn’t even win the qualifier, but backed into the tournament in another way. He won the event by six shots, with 63s on Thursday and Saturday.
So, what do we do this week? Well, it’s a pretty long course and a par 71, so heavy hitters like Koepka, Matsuyama, Tony Finau (+3000) make a lot of sense probably. Perhaps that brings long hitters at bigger numbers like Luke List (+9000), Wyndham Clark (+12500), and Cameron Champ (+10000) into the picture.
This isn’t a bad field by any means, but it does lack star power. Aside from the top names and the game’s rising youngsters, Phil Mickelson is probably the only household name in the field for the most casual golf observer.
Last week, Brian Blessing mentioned Brian Stuard in his video on our BangTheBook YouTube page. Check back to see which players he mentions this week, but Stuard played his college golf at Oakland University near Detroit and grabbed a top-five finish last week at Detroit Golf Club.
In terms of Minnesota connections here, there are a few. Course consultant Tom Lehman is playing on a sponsor exemption, but his lack of length will hurt this week. The same will likely be true of Minnesota native Tim Herron, who is +40000.
The best player with a Minnesota connection is Troy Merritt. He was a two-time state amateur champ in high school and played his college golf at Winona State. Merritt is 150/1 and has to have some experience with this track. Most of the players don’t. Tom Hoge is likely to have played here as well and he’s +25000.
Merritt has some merits this week. He’s 40th in driving accuracy, 31st in par 4 scoring, and 15th in par 5 scoring. He’s 33rd in SG: Around the Green and 28th in birdie or better. You could do a lot worse than him this week. Hoge’s stats are nowhere near that.
Scouting the Stats
The Minnesota Twins are putting up a ton of stats, so it’s only fitting for this event in the area that we see how things shake out for this one. If driving distance is a big factor this week, as it would seem to be with the length of the course, Champ, List, Finau, Clark, Seth Reeves, Trey Mullinax, Koepka, Ollie Schniederjans, Cam Davis, Sam Burns, and Phil Mickelson are in the top 20. A handful of others are in the top 50. Obviously the top players have the best strokes gained numbers in a lot of categories, but this will be an important event for approach shots as well.
That department goes to Matsuyama, who ranks third. Keegan Bradley, who the runner-up two weeks ago at the Travelers, is also in the top five in SG: Approach. Talor Gooch doesn’t have much length off the tee, but he’s been solid in a lot of other areas, including on approach and on the greens.
Wyndham Clark was a guy on last week’s card in the 165/1 range and he finished in the top 20 at Detroit Golf Club. A top-10 or top-20 prop for him might not be bad, as he’s the only player in the top 10 in driving distance and SG: Putting. He’s actually the only one in the top 30 in both. It’s all those in-between shots that have troubled him. He’s +11000 this week after flirting with the leaderboard last week.
The local angle gave us a top-five finish on a long shot at Detroit, so we’ll put Troy Merritt on the card this week at +15000. I’m also looking at some dudes that can rip it, like Champ at +10000 and List at +9000. Finau at 30/1 will be on the card as well with his distance off the tee and talent to put it together anywhere, even though he has struggled of late.
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