Out of the Rough: 3M Open (2023)
Fresh off the final Major event of the season in The Open Championship, the PGA TOUR returns state-side for the fifth edition of the 3M Open at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine, Minnesota.
This event was established in 2019 and has been held at TPC Twin Cities in each of its installments.
Although the majority of the world’s best will use this week as a natural bye-week instead of taking the ten-hour flight from England, that doesn't mean there isn’t much to play for this week.
There are just two events remaining on the PGA TOUR schedule (3M Open and Wyndham Championship) before the kick-off of the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
As the playoffs were reduced from 125-golfers to just 70, there is a lot on the line for those teeing it up this week in hopes of securing a spot in the end-of-season tournament.
Most of the more familiar names we’re seeing this week are playing due to desperation opposed to out of pure choice.
There is still plenty of work to be done as some look to secure a spot in the top 70 of the FedEx Cup Standings or look to jockey positions for better placement.
Of those playing this week, six of the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) top-35 will be in attendance. Those names include Tony Finau, Cameron Young, Justin Thomas, Sungjae Im, Sepp Straka and Hideki Matsuyama.
The most notable name and one with the most to play for is Justin Thomas, who, following a missed cut at The Open, sits 75th in the FedEx Cup Standings. A strong performance this week will be needed to crack the top 70.
With the FedEx Cup Playoffs lurking, there are 27 players teeing it up this week that fall between No. 55 and No. 85 in the current standings. A lot can change there over the final two weeks.
Joining the names listed previously are 12 other golfers who played in last week’s The Open Championship and made the ten-hour trip to Minnesota to compete. Included in that list are names such as Sahith Theegala, JT Poston, Emiliano Grillo and Nicolai Hojgaard.
Finau comes in as the defending champion of this event, using last year’s installment to secure his third TOUR victory. Finau capitalized on Scott Piercy’s collapse a year ago to win by three strokes.
Cameron Champ (2021) joins Finau as the only other past 3M Open Champion in this week’s field. Michael Thompson (2020) and Matthew Wolff (2019) will not be playing this week.
TPC Twin Cities can best be described as the quintessential TPC course layout.
It was designed by Arnold Palmer in 2000 and prior to the last four installments of the 3M Open, hosted the 3M Championship between 2001 and 2018.
Prior to its addition to the PGA TOUR schedule in 2019, the course had undergone a renovation behind Tom Lehman.
The purpose of the renovation was to adapt the course to more of a challenge for modern TOUR players.
Tees were pushed back in the renovation, adding nearly 300 yards in total length to the course. Additionally, water hazards were expanded to pose more of a persistent threat on tee shots and approaches.
In the end, the renovation proved to reward the best total drivers who can control their misses, avoid hazards and position themselves in a way to attack the large and receptive greens this course offers.
Now, the course offers both “birdies and trainwrecks” which helps offer some exciting golf.
It plays as a Par 71 at 7,431 yards.
There are plenty of short par-fours, a reachable par-five and a stadium style par-tree to keep the crowds engaged. Essentially, what we see at most TPC courses on the TOUR schedule.
Off-the-tee, golfers are faced with tree-lined fairways. The rough is also grown out and as previously mentioned, there are ample water hazards.
The water hazards offer the biggest form of defense to this course, which was evident in the expansion of them in the somewhat recent renovation.
The greens are rather large in terms of TOUR standards and are bentgrass.
The past two seasons have seen winning scores of -17 and -15 respectively, making TPC Twin Cities less than a strict birdie-fest.
In all, it’s a standard parkland course that does offer its fair share of defenses along the way.
As of the time of writing this, there is little-to-no chance for precipitation this week. Highs will begin at 98-degrees on Thursday before gradually decreasing to 86-degrees come Sunday. Winds will range from nine-to-11 miles-per-hour across the four days as well. In all, it appears to be a clear four days of golf that will feature some rather warm temperatures. Much different than what we saw the last two weeks at the Scottish Open and The Open.
Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: APP)
Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (SG: OTT) / Driving Accuracy
Birdie or Better Percentage
Strokes Gained: Putting on Bentgrass (SG: PUTT Bentgrass)
Greens in Regulation Percentage (GIR%)
Par Five Average Scoring
The first of my suggestions is the defending champion of the 3M Open, Tony Finau ($10,600.) First off, Finau is not in the best of form. He has missed the cut in back-to-back events (Rocket Mortgage Classic and The Open Championship.) Prior to that he made two consecutive cuts at the Travelers Championship and U.S. Open. Due to his recent lack-of-form, he’s fallen to No. 19 in the OWGR. He’s in desperate need of a ‘get right’ tournament with the FedEx Cup Playoffs looming. Finau is currently seventh on TOUR in all three of SG: APP, ball striking and par five average scoring. He is also 11th in birdie or better percentage, 19th in GIR%, 29th in bogey avoidance, 36th in scrambling, 40th in SG: OTT and 59th in driving accuracy. His downfall comes on the greens where he currently ranks 183rd (of 193) in SG: PUTT Bentgrass. The putter has what has let Finau down all season and he is in desperate need of finding a hot flat stick. If a return to a familiar place (in which he won a year ago) can do that for him, there’s no doubt he’ll be there come Sunday. Also consider Sungjae Im ($10,300.) Talking about another golfer out of form, we have Im. He placed T20th at last week’s The Open which is a promising sign. He still has missed the cut in four-of-his-last-eight tournaments. Prior to his run of bad form, Im had a stretch of events where he went T6th at The Players, T16th at The Masters, T7th at the RBC Heritage and T8th at the Wells Fargo Championship. Im has fallen to 27th in the OWGR and much like Finau, needs a ‘get right’ tournament to find himself back in form with the FedEx Cup Playoffs on the horizon. Im is currently fourth on Tour in par five average scoring, 19th in birdie or better percentage, 23rd in SG: OTT, 35th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass, 36th in driving accuracy, 39th in scrambling, 40th in bogey avoidance, 56th in ball striking, 69th in SG: APP and 90th in GIR%. In other words, he’s above average in each of the ten statistical categories we took into consideration this week. I’m willing to gamble on Im this week in this deflated field. He’ll headline my card at +1600.
Leading off this price range is Emiliano Grillo ($9,700.) Grillo is currently 31st on TOUR in ball striking, 34th in GIR%, 47th in birdie or better percentage, 49th in SG: APP, 53rd in SG: OTT, 56th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass, 69th in driving accuracy, 73rd in bogey avoidance, 76th in par five average scoring and 125th in scrambling. Although his scrambling figure is not the best, he converted 60-percent of scrambling chances last week at The Open and 70.59-percent at the Travelers Championship. He’s fresh off a T6th at last week’s The Open Championship. He also placed T15th at the Travelers Championship a month ago. He has a victory on the season at the Charles Schwab Challenge as well. He’s currently at +2200 on the books due to his impressive outing at The Open and will be on my betting card at that price. Also consider Stephan Jaeger ($9,100.) Jaeger is currently 13th on TOUR in GIR%, 20th in bogey avoidance, 32nd in ball striking, 33rd in par five average scoring, 47th in birdie or better percentage, 56th in both SG: OTT and scrambling, 64th in SG: APP, 120th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass and 131st in driving accuracy. The driving accuracy is a bit of a concern with an added importance off the tee this week. Jaeger has made ten consecutive cuts coming into this event, highlighted by a T9 at the Rocket Mortgage Classic and a T11th at the AT&T Byron Nelson. He also placed T14th earlier this year at the Honda Classic. I’ve been on Jaeger a lot recently, most recently at last week’s Barracuda Championship. He won’t find his way on my outright betting card this week but I like him as a DFS play.
The first name in this price range is Canada’s own Adam Hadwin ($8,900.) Hadwin missed the cut in his last outing at the John Deere Classic but made three consecutive cuts prior, highlighted by a PT2 at the Rocket Mortgage Classic where he fell in a playoff alongside Collin Morikawa to Rickie Fowler. He also placed T12th at the RBC Canadian Open. Hadwin is currently 11th on TOUR in bogey avoidance, 27th in driving accuracy, 28th in scrambling, 34th in SG: APP, 40th in par five average scoring, 41st in SG: PUTT Bentgrass, 49th in ball striking, 59th in GIR%, 78th in birdie or better percentage and 115th in SG: OTT. Although he’s slightly below average in SG: OTT, the accuracy is there and that is more important than distance this week. He’s on the books at +4500 and will be on my card this week. Also consider Lucas Glover ($8,200.) Glover has been a killer in these smaller field events as of late. In his last three tournaments he went T4th at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, T6th at the John Deere Classic and fifth at the Barbasol Championship. His putting is what brings down his overall ranking this week as he currently ranks 143rd in SG: PUTT Bentgrass. However, in his last three tournaments he has gained 5.414 strokes on the greens at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, 3.582 at the John Deere Classic and -0.658 at the Barbasol Championship. He is also 11th on TOUR in driving accuracy, 22nd in ball striking, 25th in both SG: APP and GIR%, 46th in bogey avoidance, 49th in scrambling, 58th in SG: OTT and 67th in birdie or better percentage. We also talked about his putting and he also ranks 179th in par five average scoring. If he can tread waters on the four par-fives this week, in which one is reachable, he’ll be there come Sunday. He’s on the books at +5000 and will appear on my betting card at that number.
I’m rather high on both of the names in this price range. After saying that and knowing me, you know my first name is Kevin Yu ($7,100.) Yu is currently second on TOUR in both ball striking and GIR%, third in SG: OTT, seventh in birdie or better percentage, 11th in par five average scoring, 17th in bogey avoidance, 50th in driving accuracy, 67th in SG: APP and 98th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass. His slight downfall comes with scrambling where he ranks 136th on TOUR. He’ll need to sharpen that iron (pun intended) if he wants to compete this week. He did miss the cut in his last outing at the Genesis Scottish Open but did place T6th a week prior at the John Deere Classic. Of course, he’s on my betting card at +11000. Also consider Aaron Rai ($7,900.) Rai is currently fifth on TOUR in driving accuracy, 12th in GIR%, 15th in ball striking, 41st in SG: APP, 46th in par five average scoring, 47th in SG: OTT, 58th in bogey avoidance, 66th in birdie or better percentage, 93rd in scrambling and 106th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass. Although the putting is slightly below average, he did gain 2.264 strokes on the field at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, also on Bentgrass. Rai, like Yu, missed the cut at the Genesis Scottish Open but had a run of three consecutive made cuts prior, highlighted by a T3rd at the RBC Canadian Open and T9th at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. The number is not ideal, but I have him on my betting card at +5000 as well.
As I say often in these smaller field events, finding value plays is both difficult and crucial. With that being said, I’m going extreme value here in Satoshi Kodaira ($6,200.) Kodaira has burned me the last two weeks by missing the cut at the Barbasol Championship and at last week’s Barracuda Championship. That’s not stopping me from going back to the 2018 RBC Heritage champion. Prior to those missed cuts however, he had a run of form where he made four consecutive cuts at the Mexico Open at Vidanta, the AT&T Byron Nelson, Rocket Mortgage Classic and John Deere Classic. He actually has made seven-of-12 cuts on the calendar year and if we exclude the recent back-to-back missed cuts, he made the cut in seven-of-ten events. Not bad for someone with a $6,200 price tag. Kodaira is currently second on TOUR in driving accuracy, 30th in birdie or better percentage, 34th in scrambling, 45th in GIR%, 50th in SG: APP, 52nd in ball striking, 88th in par five average scoring, 96th in bogey avoidance, 131st in SG: PUTT Bentgrass and 137th in SG: OTT. Not sure what else you can ask for out of someone priced this low. Also consider Ryan Moore ($6,700.) Dating back to the RBC Canadian Open, Moore has alternated weeks in terms of making and missing the cut. If that trend continues, he’ll make the cut this week. Two weeks back at the Barbasol Championship, Moore placed T14th. Moore is currently third on TOUR in driving accuracy, 29th in SG: APP, 35th in bogey avoidance, 40th in par five average scoring, 60th in scrambling, 63rd in ball striking, 70th in GIR% and 104th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass. His score this week is hindered by a 142nd placement in birdie or better percentage and 150th in SG: OTT. The off-the-tee number doesn’t bother me as he is elite in terms of accuracy. I’m not saying Moore goes out and wins this event, but making the cut is not out of the question.
Sungjae Im (+1600) - 2u
Emiliano Grillo (+2200) - 2u
Adam Hadwin (+4500) - 1u
Aaron Rai (+5000) - 1u
Lucas Glover (+5000) - 1u
Kevin Yu (+11000) - 1u