It may seem like the season ended last week as the final of six majors ended at Royal St. George’s with a second major championship for Collin Morikawa. However, there are still three more tournaments to be played prior to the start of the playoffs.
This week, the 3M Open tees off from TPC Twin Cities, and five of the top-20 players in the world have traveled back across the pond to take part.
Dustin Johnson headlines the field after dropping back to second in the OWGR despite his T-8 finish at the Open Championship. He will be joined by Bryson DeChambeau and Louis Oosthuizen.
Matthew Wolff will also return to the site of his first TOUR win from 2019, and Michael Thompson will look to defend his 3M title from 2020. They both finished the week right around 20-under par, showing the birdie-fest nature of this tournament that we can expect again.
The two champions got it done in very different ways, though, as Thompson used his flat stick to the tune of over seven strokes gained putting, while Wolff gained more than 13 strokes tee-to-green but only gained .7 strokes on the greens.
Both champions had one common category — their approach play — which will be the main key this week in Minnesota.
Let’s get right into the course and the key holes for the week.
TPC Twin Cities — Blaine, Minnesota
7,431-yard Par 71
- 4 Par 3s (177/204/228/202)
- 3 Par 5s (594/593/596)
- 11 Par 4s (416/468/501/424/381/502/379/467/437/451/411)
- 6,500 sq ft on average bentgrass greens rolling to 12 on Stimpmeter
- Bluegrass/fescue rough 3″
- Water in play on 15 holes
As I mentioned in my quick preview above, approach game is king this week.
The field has hit the greens at TPC Twin Cities at a remarkable 73.6% clip, making them some of the easiest to hit on TOUR. This is despite the fact that over 45% of approach shots will come from over 175 yards with half of those from over 200 yards, including three of the four par 3s.
This can also be the sign of a bit of a putting contest. When the whole field hits greens at such a high rate, it may come down to the player who makes the most putts like with Thompson last year.
It’s a similar case nearly every week, but players must take advantage of par 5s this week.
They are the three easiest holes on the course, yielding a birdie or better more than 40% of the time across all three, with the 12th standing out even easier. The 593-yard par 5 has played to a scoring average of more than a half-stroke below par across two years of this tournament, yielding birdie or better more than 55% of the time.
While birdies are good, each of these holes has also given up its share of eagles, providing a great spot for players to really attack this course. This includes the finishing hole at 18, where the tournament will ultimately be decided.
If it’s close, which it has been in both years, we can see some fireworks similar to 2019 when Wolff answered an eagle by DeChambeau to close out his win.
Only four holes have played over par in the two years of the 3M Open, and one is the par 3 13th. The 228-yard hole gives up bogey or worse more than 20% of the time against just a 10% birdie rate. There aren’t many holes of worry around this track, but this is one where players can be happy with par and look to score elsewhere this week.
The last hole of the outward nine is the toughest hole on the course year over year. It doesn’t give up many birdies, and at 502 yards, the par 4 can be a rare spot at TPC Twin Cities where players may be prone to dropping a shot or more. It has over a 30% bogey or worse rate, and it will make for an interesting closing hole for the cut line on Friday evening.
In all, 14 of the holes at this course have played under par on average across the first two years of this tournament.
While distance is an advantage, it hasn’t been a prerequisite for a high finish, as shown by the profile of last year’s champion. Players will need to be strong with their ball-striking, especially on approach, to contend this week.
Matthew Wolff (T12-1)
No one has played better in this event than 2019 champion Wolff.
This was his first tour win and the first time we really saw the correlation in finishes between him and Bryson DeChambeau.
Wolff certainly hasn’t had the season I’m sure he expected, but he has shown flashes of late and should be in consideration this week.
Tony Finau (T3-T23)
Speaking of players who haven’t had the season they hoped for, Tony Finau fits that mold. He came out of the gates in 2021 on fire but has cooled considerably before bouncing back a bit with his T-15 at the Open.
Finau was in contention for that elusive second win in 2020 before falling short to Thompson by two shots down the stretch.
Charles Howell III (T3-T23)
We usually think of CH3 as a play in the early months of the season — especially in Hawaii — but he has an identical record to Finau at the 3M. Howell was in the mix throughout the weekend last year, and he will come in off of a top-25 a couple of weeks ago at the John Deere Classic.
Photo Credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images.
Pictured: Matthew Wolff.