3M OPEN: After crowning the Champion Golfer of the Year at Hoylake we return to the PGA Tour grind with the 3M Open, a tournament that has only been in existence since 2019 but has carved out a nice little niche in golf-starved Minnesota, regularly drawing enthusiastic galleries despite fields that have been a little light on star power. This year is no exception on that front, as only a handful of players who teed it up in Liverpool last week have made the trip over, which means this is an excellent opportunity for an up-and-comer to change his career with a breakthrough win, à la Matthew Wolff in 2019.
The course, TPC Twin Cities in the Minneapolis suburb of Blaine, has played host to this event since its inception and has received positive reviews from the players, with the perfectly manicured bentgrass greens getting special mention. It’s not particularly difficult, though they’ve made it a little more challenging over the last couple of years by narrowing some fairways and growing out the rough. Still, there’s not enough severity off the tee to bother Tour players and the greens are straightforward and silky smooth, resulting in buckets of birdies. Defending champ Tony Finau’s 17-under 267 last year was the second-highest winning score in tournament history, and the cut is always under-par.
Needless to say, this will be a much different challenge than what the likes of Finau saw at Hoylake last week, though if past results are any indication Tony and his fellow bombers may be in good shape. One look at the list of past champions– Wolff (’19), Cameron Champ (’21), Finau (’22)– tells you all you need to know: being able to hit your tee ball a country mile is a huge advantage at TPC Twin Cities. The par-5s are very gettable and present eagle opportunities for the longer guys, and missing fairways and finding the lush bentgrass rough is a lot more penal for the shorter players who may not have the luxury of needing only wedges or short irons on approach. Of course, Michael Thompson turned all this logic on its head back in 2020, winning here as one of the shortest guys on Tour, but if we’re looking at the trends it’s undeniable that length off the tee will be a key to success this week.
Cameron Young, who ranks 3rd on Tour in driving distance and is coming off a T8 at Hoylake, heads BETDAQ’s Win Market 17.5, and he nicely fits the profile. That said, he was struggling prior to catching some lightning these past couple of weeks… I’m not sure he’s quite as reliable as some others in his price range. With that in mind, here’s what I’m thinking this week:
Recommendations to BACK (odds in parenthesis)
Sepp Straka (29.0)- While Straka may not be a bomber in the league of Finau or Cam Champ, he gets it out there, averaging 298.3 yards per drive, and he hits it straight, too, ranking 20th on Tour in driving accuracy. More importantly, he’s currently playing the best golf of his career, winning the John Deere two weeks ago and then going on to finish runner-up at Hoylake. He’s got it flowing right now and he’s played well at TPC Twin Cities before, finishing T18 here in 2020. The field this week isn’t particularly strong… many of the big names that Straka beat last week will be home watching from the couch. This is a great opportunity for him to continue to build on a career-changing year, and to me he’s a clear standout at nearly 30/1. It feels like he has a much better chance this week than some others in his price range.
Keith Mitchell (60.0)- It’s been a while since I placed a bet on Mitchell, but I feel like this is a great spot for him. He absolutely pounds the ball off the tee, averaging better than 312 yards per drive, and he leads the Tour in Total Driving, which means he should be able to put himself in great position to go low at TPC Twin Cities. He’s done it before, finishing 5th here in his last appearance (2021), so he should be coming in this week with plenty of confidence. While he does have a PGA Tour victory (’19 Honda Classic), I think he perfectly fits the mold of some of the other guys who have won this tournament…an excellent player right on the cusp of bigger things who is able to exploit an advantageous course and a field that lacks the intimidation factor. Mitchell presents excellent value at a price like 60.0.
Tom Hoge (110.0)- This is a great price for Hoge, who has a nice history in this tournament that includes a T4 last year… a performance that is particularly notable due to the fact that he had missed 6 straight cuts entering the event. It would suggest that TPC Twin Cities is one of those courses that is magic for a player like Hoge– even when he’s struggling, he knows how to get it around this track. Fortunately for him he’s not currently struggling by most standards, finishing T19 at the Scottish Open two weeks ago, his tenth top-20 this season. It’s going to take a low number this week and Hoge is one of the best iron players in the world, ranking 5th on Tour in strokes gained on approach and 6th in proximity, so we know he’ll be giving himself plenty of chances. He feels like an absolute steal at better than 100/1.