After a stop off in Detroit last week, the PGA Tour moves to Minnesota this week for a brand new tournament – the 3M Open – which despite it being a couple of weeks before The Open has attracted a solid enough field to compete.
We had a total surprise winner in the form of Nate Lashley last week and it will be interesting to see if the outsiders fare well again here or whether the established brigade get the job done instead and one of the favourites win.
TPC Twin Cities is the venue for the tournament this week. Although it hasn’t been used on the PGA Tour before it has been a regular stop off for the Champions Tour and the scoring was always very low in that event. The course has been beefed up a little for the PGA Tour elite with the rough up to 3.5 inches but all things being equal this is expected to be a low scoring tournament.
The course is a par 71 but despite it having up to three drivable par 4s on it, it measures 7,468 yards so this could be something of a test and one which might favour the longer hitters. With it being a low scoring tournament though you need a player who is confident on the greens although poor putters might not be too inconvenienced given that everyone gets a look at the dancefloors for the first time.
Brooks Koepka heads the field this week. He normally plays the week before a major so it looks like he is going to be playing three successive weeks including The Open which is interesting. The international pair of Jason Day and Hideki Matsuyama add further star quality to the field while Bryson DeChambeau will look to use the week to find his very best form.
Surprisingly Phil Mickelson is in the field despite previously claiming he wouldn’t play in tournaments where the rough was thick again. Patrick Reed, Keegan Bradley and Lucas Glover are all former major champions who tee it up here while Nate Lashley, winner of the Rocket Mortgage Classic last week is also teeing it up once again.
As you would expect Brooks Koepka is the market leader this week. We can get 9/1 on him which given the lack of depth in the field looks on the generous side but the question is whether he can get himself up for a low key tournament like this one. It is well known that it is the majors that get his juices flowing and for someone so good in them his record in these type of events is not good. That makes him an easy enough swerve although if he fancies it there isn’t a lot to stop him.
Jason Day is the second favourite at 11/1 and I have to say he has been off my radar for a while now because you never truly know if he is going to turn up in one piece or not. He has gone to Steve Williams on the bag which is an admission he isn’t where he wants to be with his game and the only difference so far is that he is said to be practicing harder. Whether that is going to be much use for a body as brittle as his remains to be seen to be fair. Either way he’s not for me.
Hideki Matsuyama should contend every week with his tee-to-green game but on the greens he has a massive weakness at present and until that gets sorted out it is hard to get excited about him at around the 11/1 mark. He would need a real turnaround with his putting displays to feature strongly in what is likely to be a low scoring tournament. There is nothing to suggest that will be here so he isn’t for me either.
Bryson DeChambeau is 16/1 this week and while he showed glimpses of a return to form last time out, he has been off his best game for too long for my liking. I always prefer to be on DeChambeau on tracks that are slightly tougher so that could go against him this week which isn’t ideal. I think he’s pretty skinny anyway on the prices so I’m happy enough to leave him alone. It is 25/1 bar those named.
Smack it a mile and make a bunch of birdies seems to be the order of the way this week so with that in mind I’ll take a punt on Rory Sabbatini. The well-known Slovakian star arrives here in decent form having finished third in the Rocket Mortgage Classic last week and has had a few good results on Tour this year. While statistics are nice this week you can’t beat good old form and he has that in abundance with three top six finishes in his last five starts and another couple of top 10 results on the year. I’m not convinced this will take much winning but whoever does do it has to go low. Sabbatini can do that.
Scott Piercy is another one who can smoke it off the tee and go low when the need arises and although his form tailed off in his last couple of tournaments we can allow him that after a good run of form through the middle of the season. He has six top 10s on the season and another four top 20s and has reached scores of -21 at the Byron Nelson and -17 in Mayakoba so scoring low is nothing new to him. At 50/1 Piercy looks a pretty big price to me this week.
Keith Mitchell is already a winner on the PGA Tour this season and while he would probably like it a little tougher this week he can still go low as he showed in the Byron Nelson last season where I first took notice of him. He’s inside the top 50 in birdie average on the PGA Tour and a lot of those above him aren’t here this week. He is also in the top 35 in distance off the tee so he can get it out there without necessarily spraying it to all parts which is impressive enough and has to be taken into account We know in contention he can win so 90/1 on a tour winner just a few months ago looks tasty to me.
I’m pleased that Cameron Champ fired himself into form again last week because statistically he shapes up well this week. He leads the Tour in driving distance and sits inside the top 20 for birdie average so if he can keep the big scores off the card he should go very close on a course which could have as many as three drivable par 4s on it. He is another who has won this season so he isn’t going to melt in contention. He shot 21 under when he won the Sanderson Farms so he can go low and ticks enough boxes at 90/1.
Luke List might be a forgotten man this week. His last three events have all been missed cuts but you wouldn’t expect him to feature at Muirfield or Pebble Beach. They negate his strengths, one of which is length off the tee where he is the third best on the Tour. As you would expect with that length he makes plenty of birdies and it wasn’t so long ago he was more than competitive at Bethpage Black. He was in the top 10 there which is decent form and with this course needing to be overpowered I’ll take List to do just that.
Back R.Sabbatini to win 3M Open (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 34.00 with William Hill (1/5 1-6)
Back him here:
Back S.Piercy to win 3M Open (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 51.00 with Coral (1/5 1-7)
Back K.Mitchell to win 3M Open (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 91.00 with Coral (1/5 1-7)
Back C.Champ to win 3M Open (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 91.00 with Coral (1/5 1-7)
Back L.List to win 3M Open (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 101.00 with Coral (1/5 1-7)