The final major of the season is now a thing of the past, but the PGA train rolls on regardless. Back to the U.S., it is. Four days of glorious sunshine on the Kent coast in England will be followed by a trip to TPC Twin Cities in Minnesota, where the third 3M Open will be held. 2020 winner Michael Thompson will tee it up against a whole host of big names to try and defend his crown.
Before we look at what it will take for players to perform well at 3M Open, let’s quickly recap last week’s sportsbook bets, and it’s probably fair to say that things didn’t quite go as planned in that respect. Top 10 play Tyrrell Hatton, who appeared to be set for a big week in Sandwich, wasn’t at the races and bombed-out after two days, while Xander Schauffele, despite an excellent final round of 65, failed to establish himself as a contender for the Claret Jug, finishing at a respectable but ultimately underwhelming three under par.
Here’s a full breakdown of last week’s sportsbook picks:
Tyrell Hatton Top 10 @ +300 = LOST
Xander Schauffele Outright @ +2000 = LOST
Christian Bezuidenhout Top 20 @ +275 = LOST
Robert MacIntyre Top 20 @ +275 = WON
Lucas Herbert Top 20 @ +333 = LOST
If we work it out to a level stake of $10 per play, that’s $50 staked and $37.50 returned. Not a disaster by any means, but far from ideal!
What to expect at TPC Twin Cities?
Last week’s hard graft at Royal St. George’s should have players well-prepped for this week, or at least those who were present at the links course. Course management and steady play were required in England, and that’s what will be needed here too. The Arnold Palmer designed course in Minnesota possesses fairways of a narrow kind, while the rough is long in places and can be unforgiving, putting emphasis on accuracy off the tee. Obtaining the right position is paramount ahead of approach at TPC Twin Cities.
However, while course management and relative accuracy will play a big part this week, there will still be plenty of scoring opportunities. Those who can tailor their approach to fit the course should be able to go low. Last year, the winning score was -19, while Matthew Wolff won the inaugural playing of this event with a final score of -21 back in 2019. Players that favour a more tactical approach should still thrive, but the course has been tightened up in recent times, with the fairways being trimmed, the rough lengthened and bunker severity increased, so we may see fewer birdies than before.
When Thompson won last season, strong approach play was critical and that will undoubtedly be the case again. The 2020 winner finished the week as the fourth-best player in terms of strokes gained: approach.
Picks for the 3M Open
Tony Finau +1600
Tony Finau didn’t quite get himself into a position where the focus was on his last week, though he quietly played some very solid, very measured golf at Royal St. George’s, handling the tough conditions, navigating his way to a respectable total score of -5, which resulted in a T15 finish. Aside from the geographical disparity, there are big differences between the two venues of course, but in its remodelled state, there are also similarities between what was required last week and what will be needed in Minnesota, and big Tony looks to have the game to deal with the challenge.
The tenth best player on tour in terms of strokes gained: tee-to-green, Finau has performed well here in recent times, improving on a 23rd place finish when finishing third last season. And that effort 12 months ago really does suggest that the 31-year-old won’t be far away this time around. Of those in this field to have played all eight previous rounds at the 3M Open, Finau has gained the third most strokes overall, while of all the players to play at least four rounds here he’s the number one in terms of strokes gained: approach, which makes him a major, major contender in my mind.
It’s now been over five years since Tony’s one and only PGA Tour win, but don’t let that put you off. He’s regularly hit the highest reaches of many a leaderboard since and is without doubt one of the most elite players in this field. Can a trip to Minnesota spark a return to the winner’s podium for Tony Finau, with plenty in favour, off the back of a solid performance last time out, at odds of +1600, I’m betting that it can.
Top 20 Finish
Adam Hadwin +350
Canada’s Adam Hadwin failed to make the cut at The Open last week, thanks primarily to a first-round 75, but there were signs of life in his game. The second round of 69 was far from poor, especially since it was only one hole that cost him finishing up a few shots better off, while he’s a player that has the game to do well at this venue, at least that’s exactly what he did back in 2019.
It’s not been a particularly fruitful six weeks or so for Hadwin, who has made just one cut since finishing T8 at the Charles Schwab back in May, but this might just be his perfect opportunity to get himself back up the leaderboard. In 2019, Hadwin finished fourth here and his strokes gained numbers from that event are quite eye-catching.
In fact, of all the players in this field to have played at least four rounds at this tournament in the past, Hadwin ranks as the second-best in terms of strokes gained: total, while he ranks third for strokes gained: approach. Those stats aren’t to be ignored, and at big odds, the Canadian is worth betting on to improve recent showing and place among the top 20 in the field.