(CBS Minnesota) – This year’s 3M Open at TPC Twin Cities is sandwiched between the British Open Championship and the Olympic men’s golf competition in Japan. However, many of the best of the PGA Tour are making the trip to Blaine, Minnesota for the tournament’s third example. That includes the second rating Dustin Johnson and Louis Oosthuizen ranked ninth. 3M Open 2019 and 2020 are bird festivals, and this year has the same potential.
Michael Thompson is the defending champion, shooting 19 under 265 last year to beat Adam Long by two strokes. Matthew Wolff, last year’s defending champion, was also an incredible distance from his six-stroke bogey on the final hole. Wolff won his first 3M Open championship in 2019 with a brilliant 21 under 263, beating Bryson DeChambeau and Collin Morikawa. Both Thompson and Wolff, who return to the PGA Tour after a two-month break, will be looking to add another title to their resumes.
Johnson was the most recent top player in the world last week. While he was eighth at the Open Championship, Jon Rahm was third. That’s all it takes for the two to swap places. It’s also just his second top 10 finish since February, when he finished eighth at the Genesis Invitational. Johnson hasn’t won since the November Masters. A backache forced him to withdraw from last year’s 3M Open after one round.
“He didn’t play well here last year,” said CBS Sports reporter Dottie Pepper. “But I think it helps to give him some experience and not meet the first time. He got some momentum after last week, finally breaking through the top 10.”
Oosthuizen has been playing exceptionally well over the past few months. He’s made the top 10 in five of his last six events, since the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. That run included a second-place draw at the PGA Championship, second-place finish at the US Open, and a third-place draw at the Open Championship.
“He started to play better,” Pepper commented. “He has always been an extraordinary dribbler, with good control of the ball in golf. But things started to turn around for him while we were in New Orleans at the Zurich Classic. It is true that he has a life partner. But things really started to turn in the right direction for him. The shot is the big, big difference. “
Johnson, Oosthuizen and the rest of the 156-person field will face the TPC Twin Cities schoolyard that was once a death ranch. The par-71 link, 7,431 yards wide, is surrounded by large oaks, spruce and pines, flowing through the grassland and hilly terrain of rural Minnesota. Small lakes are scattered throughout the layout, where water is an element on most holes. The three par-5s are all nearly 600 yards long. Despite the water and length, TPC Twin Cities allowed for its fair share of birds in its first two years.
Pepper said: “I thought it was soft and dropped most of the scores because of the conditions. “We had a lot of rain the first few times around. The golf course is extremely soft. This is the dry, hot forecast for the week, so I think we’ll see another TPC Twin Cities. Going out there shooting darts like they’ve been doing for the past two years won’t necessarily be the case.”
Half of Minnesota is experiencing drought, and dry conditions can make for a more solid course. But the yard’s custodians have ensured that TPC Twin Cities will be in top condition, thanks to mild winters, dry springs and recent rain.
Course makes it easy for players to get in with a relatively short par-4, offering plenty of birdie opportunities. At 593 feet, the par-5 sixth hole is a double hole leading to a wide putting green. The seventh hole, nicknamed “Tom’s thumb, ” As a 372-yard par-4, some eagles could be seen, despite the new pushback tee. The ninth hole is a 489-foot par 4, but tends not to play to that distance thanks to the wind. The dangerous green ridge slopes towards the lake to the right. The 14th par-4, 415 yards wide, remains around Cavner’s Cove.
“TPC Twin Cities has the second most approach shots on the course from 175 to 200 yards in any leg of the Tour in 2019 and 2020,” Pepper pointed out. “It’s not an easy golf course. They have to be positioned at some point to avoid where the bunkers are inserted. And the golf course also has a decent amount of water. So if that’s the situation again this year, with longer shots coming hard and fast, I don’t think you’ll see these super low scores. [like] the first two times this event was taking place. “
The area expects cloudy skies and mid-to-high 90s temperatures for the tournament. No rain is forecast.
The following is favourite:
Dustin Johnson (7-1)
Johnson doesn’t make the top 10 finish week after week, but he’s been playing better over the weekend. He has four consecutive top 25 finishes, including an eighth-place draw at the Open Championship. Eight times ahead is probably not the redemption he is looking for. But a win at the 3M Open could put him back at number one. Johnson withdrew from a single appearance at TPC Twin Cities due to a back injury.
Tony Finau (14-1)
Finau, ranked 19th in the world, finished third in last year’s 3M Open, in a group three strokes behind. He has found limited success this season, including finishing in the top 10 at the Masters and PGA Championships, but has also missed two of his last three cuts. Finau hasn’t won in five years, but this TPC Twin Cities course fits his game.
Louis Oosthuizen (January 14)
Oosthuizen has climbed 13 places on the rankings since the start of the year. He’s been on fire since late April, breaking into the top three in three different majors. But his success didn’t lead to another PGA Tour win. Oosthuizen has only one Tour win, 11 years ago at the Open Championship. He never played in TPC Twin Cities.