A month of pro golf in Scotland would be alright by me but the schedule drops the PGA Tour into Minnesota this week for the 3M Open on another TPC course.
The Twin Cities version is a par-71 measuring 7,431 yards, featuring beefy par-3s, generous fairways and large greens. This is the fourth year the course in Blaine, Minn., has played host to the Tour and the winning scores of the first three playings were: -21, -19 and -15 last year as strong winds covered the property during the first two rounds.
There’s a chance of weekend rain and a decent amount of wind (14-18 mph) through the four tournament rounds in the initial forecast, so keep an eye on your favorite weather app or website and plan accordingly if one wave of tee times ends up with a distinct advantage.
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Other thoughts on TPC Twin Cities
With the fairways so accessible, strong mid-to-long iron play is critical for scoring. The 8th, 13th and 17th holes are par-3s measuring more than 200 yards and ranking among the eight most difficult holes on the course. Surviving those holes and the two 500-yard par-4s, while capitalizing on the three par-5s is a solid way to build a round.
More than 40 percent of the approach shots come from outside 175 yards.
The rough is slightly higher this year (4” range) per reports out of the Twin Cities.
Four of the top 8 finishers last year also finished top-8 for the week in par-3 efficiency.
Don’t be afraid to sprinkle shorter hitters on the card this week. Brian Stuard, Ryan Armour and others who rely on accuracy over power have fared well here in the past.
3M Open Fantasy Golf Picks: Longer Shots
25. Cameron Champ – The defending champ is struggling upon arrival at TPC Twin Cities (five consecutive missed cuts) but returning to the scene of a victory on a course built for bombing could boost his confidence.
24. Martin Laird – Prior to his T-3 last week in Truckee (no stats available), Laird gained more than 20 shots Tee-to-Green in a four-tournament span and was especially sharp with his irons. Bad putters have played well and even won here before.
23. Danny Lee – Gained 8.2 shots Tee-to-Green in a T-10 in Canada. Top-20 in the field in proximity from 175-200 yards and not afraid to string together birdies (6th in field).
22. Tyler Duncan – Gained at least 1.4 shots on approach in each of his last five starts and finished T-13 at Barbasol. Ranks 20th in SG: OTT and top-10 in proximity from 175-200 yards over the last 100 rounds.
21. Matthew NeSmith – He’s terrific from 175 yards and out, attacks the par-5s (third in scoring from 550-600 yards) and is top-15 in SG: Tee-to-Green over the last 24 rounds.
20. Chris Gotterup – Finished T-4 at the John Deere despite losing 1.5 shots on the green and his power game should suit TPC Twin Cities. The Vegas and fantasy markets certainly believe in his ability.
19. Nate Lashley – Liked his chances at the John Deere but never got on track and missed the cut. Took the last two weeks off and his SG:Off-The-Tee (48th) plus proximity from 175-200 yards (28th) are a solid combo for success in Minnesota.
18. Callum Tarren – Crushes tee shots to create scoring opportunities (17th in birdies or better) and posted top-10s in two weaker fields (Puerto Rico, Mexico) this season. Also top-15 in scoring on 550-600 yard par-5s and all three at TPC Twin Cities land in this range.
17. Austin Smotherman – Secured first top-10 of his rookie season last week at the Barracuda and 134th in the FedEx Cup standings; another strong finish could push him into the playoffs. Excellent with his mid to long irons and fifth in the field in Opportunities Gained over the last 50 rounds.
16. Sahith Theegala – Some concern because he played in Scotland last week but can’t argue with the rookie’s precocious consistent results, making 12 consecutive cuts. He’s sixth in SG: Tee-to-Green over the last 24 rounds and one of the top 20 drivers in the field.
15. Joohyung Kim – Accepted a special temporary membership earlier this week and has all the tools to push into the FedEx Cup playoffs. Finished 23rd in U.S. Open, 3rd in Scottish and 47th last week at St. Andrews.
14. Hayden Buckley – He’s third in this field in SG: Off-the-Tee and 29th in SG: Tee-to-Green over the last 24 rounds. Concerned about his ability to go low because of shaky putter but should have many good birdie looks in each round.
13. Sungjae Im – Poor performance in the majors continued with a MC at Brookline and a T-81 at St. Andrews sandwiched around another weekend off at the Scottish Open. The return to target golf (T-15 here in 2019) should be a welcome sight.
12. Lucas Glover – He’s 114th in the FedEx Cup standings. He’s also 11th in proximity from 175-200 yards and 16th from 200 yards plus over the last 100 rounds. Finished T-7 here in 2019.
11. Maverick McNealy – On a tear, finishing 8th, 16th and 9th in his last three starts, ranking top-10 in Birdies or Better and Opportunities Gained over the last 50 rounds. Strong driver is ninth in scoring on 550-600 yard par-5s.
3M Open Fantasy Golf Picks: Best Bets
10. Nick Hardy – He’s top-15 in SG: Off-the-Tee, Driving Distance, Opportunities and Birdies Gained in this field and enjoying his finest stretch of the season. The former University of Illinois star should feel comfy in the Midwest.
9. Adam Svensson – Clinched a playoff berth at the Barbasol, where he stormed to the 36-hole lead and finished T-6, gaining a career best 7.4 shots on approach. Ranks top-20 in SG: Tee-to-Green over the last 24 rounds. Putting has been stronger of late.
8. Hideki Matsuyama – Easy to question motivation following a mediocre effort at the Old Course and sharpness considering he recently started receiving swing guidance from legendary instructor Pete Cowan and could be in a more technical state of mind. But obviously likes a course where he finished top-10 in 2019.
7. Emiliano Grillo – Finished T-3 here in 2020 and showed a sign of life in what’s been a disappointing season with a runner-up at the John Deere. Love his combo of SG: Off-the-Tee, proximity from 200 yards plus and scoring on 550-600 yard par-5s.
6. Adam Long – In a sweet groove with three top-25s in a row and each aspect of his game is performing well. Has gained shots Off the Tee in four consecutive events and is among the field’s best at avoiding bogeys.
5. Adam Hadwin – Perfect storm of course history and current form if you care to overlook the inexplicable missed cut at the John Deere. Avoided the recent international travel so should be well rested for a tournament where he finished fourth in ‘19 and T-6 in ‘21.
4. Davis Riley – Played a ton of (very good) golf in May and June but has been on the sidelines since an abysmal week on the greens produced a T-64 at the Travelers. Still, he’s third in SG: Tee-to-Green and eighth in SG: Off-the-Tee over the last 24 rounds and should be fresh.
3. Tony Finau – Grinded out a T-28 last week in The Open and now makes the journey to Minnesota. Has enjoyed visits to the Land of 10,000 Lakes, finishing T-23/T-3/T-8 in the three playings of this tournament. Ranks top-20 in the field in all the significant areas and better than anyone from Tee-to-Green over the last 24 rounds.
2. Cam Davis – Enters on the strength of back-to-back top-10s and three in his last five starts. While in general prefer him on shorter courses, the profile also fits nicely at this TPC-Twin Cities layout. He’s 13th in the field in Driving Distance, converts on the par-5s and has strong proximity averages from outside 175 yards. Enjoys summer golf.
1. Brendan Steele – Leads the field in SG: Off-the-Tee and is second in SG: Tee-to-Green over the last 24 rounds. Finished ninth, 10th and 25 at the PGA Championship, Memorial and Travelers, gaining at least five shots on approach in each tournament. Has five top-5 finishes the last three seasons. Any type of week at all with the putter and he should be in the mix until late Sunday and have a shot at his third career PGA Tour title.
3M Open Fantasy Golf Picks: Bargain Bin
Ryan Armour, Paul Barjon, Kevin Chappell, Lee Hodges, Satoshi Kodaira, Brandon Matthews, Andrew Novak, Cameron Percy, Scott Piercy, Chase Seiffert.