Another new event takes place on the PGA Tour this week as the inaugural running of the 3M Open begins Thursday in Blaine, Minnesota, at TPC Twin Cities. The tournament replaces the 3M Championship, which was a staple event on the Champions Tour from 1993 to 2018, and hosted by TPC Twin Cities since 2001. It replaces A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier on the PGA’s schedule. The 3M Open is the second-to-last event prior to The Open Championship, the final Major of 2019.
The tournament’s position on the schedule sees a fairly impressive field headed to Minnesota. World No. 1 Brooks Koepka headlines the 156 players. Eight others from the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking are also in attendance. Tiger Woods isn’t included in the field as he prepares for The Open and Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland.
Nate Lashley picked up his first career PGA Tour win at last week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club. Previously ranked 346th in the world, Lashley earned a spot in The Open field and moved up to No. 101, as he finished 25-under par to win by six strokes over Doc Redman. Redman also earned a trip to his first Open Championship.
The course: TPC Twin Cities
Originally designed by Arnold Palmer with Tom Lehman acting as a consultant, TPC Twin Cities measures 7,468 yards and plays as a par 71. There are 27 bodies of water scattered throughout the course and coming into play on most holes. TPC Twin Cities ranked first or second in birdies scored on the Champions Tour circuit in each of the last seven years. No one shot worse than minus-15 in the 54-hole event since 2006. David Frost set the tournament record at minus-25 in 2010. It has been lengthened by roughly 300 yards in total, with trees narrowing the fairways across from the water.
The course features Bentgrass tees, fairways, and greens. Many of the putting surfaces are right next to, or in front of, ponds or lakes. Three of the four par 3s are in excess of 200 yards. One par 4 is longer than 500 yards and four top 450.
Key stats to consider for the 3M Open
Once again, we lack any relevant course history to draw from, as another event and course debuts on the PGA circuit. We can look at the low scores posted on TPC Twin Cities from the Champions Tour and the 3M Championship to emphasize the importance of scoring low.
The length of the course and the danger of the water placements puts a focus on longer par 4s and the importance of a good approach game. My model at Fantasy National looks at the key stats of Strokes Gained: Approach, Birdies or Better Gained, Good Drives, Par 5s Gained, and Par 4 Efficiency: 450-500 Yards.
The model is set for courses with Bentgrass greens. We’re looking at only the most recent 36 rounds played by each player in the field on such courses.
3M Open betting picks: Sleepers and values
Bradley remains in search of his first win of 2019. The 33-year-old snapped a six-year winless skid last September, when he took home the BMW Championship, defeating Justin Rose in a playoff.
He is ranked 29th in the OWGR, but he is the seventh-best player in the field by the same measure and is tied for the 13th-best odds to win. Bradley ranks second to world No. 8 Bryson DeChambeau (+1400) in the stat model. He specializes in SG: Approach and par 5 scoring. His recent results include a T2 at the Travelers Championship and he was the leader of the RBC Canadian Open after Round 1. He is rested after skipping last week’s event in Detroit.
Berger has slipped all the way to 106th in the OWGR after finishing the 2018 season at 60th. The 2015 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year hasn’t won since going back-to-back at the FedEx St. Jude Classic in 2016 and 2017. He has made 11 of 16 cuts this year with his lone top 10 result coming at the shallow-field Puerto Rico Open in February.
He was on a streak of seven consecutive made cuts before missing the weekend at the Travelers two weeks ago. His streak included a T49 at the US Open and a T71 at the PGA Championship. Berger leads the field in SG: Approach over everyone’s last 36 rounds played on Bentgrass greens. He has struggled with the putter this season, but he managed to gain 0.51 strokes on the field at the Canadian Open, where he finished T35.
Straka, a PGA Tour rookie out of Austria and the University of Georgia, has been climbing leaderboards over the last month. The 26-year-old made four of his last five cuts, finishing June with a T11 at the Rocket Mortgage Classic for his best result of the season. He won the KC Golf Classic on what’s now known as the Korn Ferry Tour (formerly Web.com Tour).
Last week’s result vaulted Straka 50 spots up the OWGR from 316 to 266 heading into the 3M Open. His strengths this week are Good Drives and Par 4 Efficiency from the selected distance. He fired three rounds in the 60s in each of three of the last four non-Majors in which he made the cut.
3M Open betting picks: The winner
Finau just shouldn’t be as low as the seventh-best odds in a field of this caliber. The 16th-ranked player in the OWGR is third-best in the field by the same ranking. He took last week off, after missing three straight cuts following his runner-up finish at the Charles Schwab Challenge.
The fifth-place finisher at April’s Masters, he came 64th at the PGA Championship before missing the cut at the US Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links. He’ll be aiming to follow up his T9 finish at last year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.
Finau ranks 10th in the stat model, and even during a relatively down year, he leads the field in Par 5s Gained and ranks second in Birdies or Better. He has been inaccurate with the driver this year, but he ranked third in the Charles Schwab field in SG: Off-the-Tee at plus-1.12 strokes gained, according to Data Golf.