The majors are done and dusted for another season, and what a season of top-tier golf it’s been in the big competitions. 2021 has had it all. We saw history made at Augusta, where Hideki Matsuyama became the first-ever Asian winner of what is perhaps golf’s most famous competition of all. Then another piece of history was cut out at Kiawah Island, where veteran Phill Mickelson delivered a masterclass in golfing artistry to become the oldest ever major winner.
Big Jon Rahm, whose long been one of the highest ranked players in the world, broke his duck at Torrey Pines, winning the U.S. Open, and now Collin Morikawa, who was already the youngest ever major winner having captured the PGA Championship in 2020, becomes the first ever golfer to win two different majors at the first attempt.
It’s easy to get the major blues once the final big one is played, but we’re not done yet, not by a longshot. There’s plenty of action still to come and this week the PGA Tour is in Minnesota, where TPC Twin Cities will host the third playing of the 3M Open.
2020 winner Michael Thompson will look to defend his crown, though doing that won’t be easy, especially given some of the players he’ll be up against. Big-name players such as Dustin Johnson and Tony Finau will tee it up in Minnesota this week, as will Louis Oosthuizen who, not for the first time, heads into an event off the back of an outstanding effort in a major.
Bubba Watson is back in action having missed The Open due to COVID protocols, while Patrick Reed and Sergio Garcia are other household names to feature. Several of the world’s best players won’t be present at TPC Twin Cities, with the likes of Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, and Jordan Spieth among those to opt-out.
TPC Twin Cities
Originally designed by the legend of the game Arnold Palmer in 2000, TPC Twin Cities was remodeled and upgraded in recent times, a remodeling that was overseen by Minnesota native Tom Lehman, whose goal was to make the course more of a challenge.
To do that, Lehman ensured that the fairways were brought in, while rough areas increased in severity. The remodeling work also increased the length of several holes, upgrading the total course length to 7,431 yards from the original 7,164 yards. The course, which is situated in Blaine, has hosted the 3M Open since the tournament emerged on the PGA Tour back in 2019.
The narrower fairways and higher rough increases the importance of driving accuracy at TPC Twin Cities, so strokes gained: off-the-tee should be key this week while driving accuracy is something to note too. As always, strokes gained: tee-to-green is not something to ignore. Although the course is a little different now, when Matt Wolff won in 2019, he led the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green.
On the face of it, strokes gained: off-the-tee may not seem overly important here. After all, it wasn’t paramount in the previous renewals, as winner rankings of 21st and 88th suggest, but there’s every reason to think that it will now be far more important, so those adept at finding good positions off the tee and thus gaining strokes in that area should thrive.
Key Stats for TPC Twin Cities
Below are four important strokes gained categories for this course, followed by the top ten in those areas at this venue in the last five seasons. Note: only players who’ve played at least four rounds at the venue are included.
Strokes gained: tee-to-green: Robby Shelton, Emiliano Grillo, Matthew Wolff, Tony Finau, Dylan Frittelli, Patrick Reed, Kyle Stanley, Adam Long, Brice Garrett.
Strokes gained: off-the-tee: Sepp Straka, Robby Shelton, Emiliano Grillo, Kyle Stanley, Charl Schwartzel, Tom Lewis, Scott Piercy, Beau Hossler, Doug Ghim, Charles Howell.
Strokes gained: approach: Tony Finau, Adam Hadwin, Matthew Wolff, Chris Baker, Patrick Reed, Hank Leboida, Robby Shelton, Ryan Moore, Jhonattan Vegas.
Strokes gained: putting: Aaron Baddeley, Adam Hadwin, Wyndham Clark, Denny McCarthy, Richy Werenski, Michael Gellerman, Michael Thompson, Brian Harman, Bo Hoag, Johnson Wagner.
The challenge won’t be as severe and there will probably be more than a select few that sit lower than -10 come Sunday evening, but there will be similarities between what was required at the Open Championship last week and what’s needed at TPC Twin Cities. The importance of accuracy off the tee remains, as does the need for clever course management, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if those players that did well last week, performed admirably in Minnesota this week too.
|Odds To Win +1600|
|Draft Kings $10,700|
|If there’s one must-have player this week, then it’s got to be Tony Finau. After a very solid effort at Royal St. George’s last week, where he ended up in a tie for 15th at five-under-par, Finau looks set to tear it up this week. Finished 23rd here in 2019 and built on that last year by finishing fourth, posting some outstanding strokes gained numbers in the process.|
In this field, on this track, Finau ranks as the best player when it comes to strokes gained: approach, while he gains 2.04 strokes on average tee-to-green, making him the fifth-best player in that regard.
Hasn’t won for a while, but he’s hit form at the right time, and everything looks set for big Tony to have a big week in Minnesota. Fantasy players, get him in.
|Odds To Win +4000|
|Draft Kings $9,300|
|Grillo is another player that simply must be on the team this week. Like Finau, he relished the challenge last week, finishing at a very tidy -6. That showed us that he has the golf required to thrive at a venue like this, which is exactly what he did last season when finishing third here.|
Seventh best in terms of strokes gained: off-the-tee on this track, the Argentinian, who is now ranked inside the world’s top 40, can be strong tee-to-green this week, at least he was last year, gaining 2.11 strokes on average in that area. Another in-form player with plenty going for him, Grillo makes up the must-have section this week.
|Odds To Win +2800|
|Draft Kings $9,000|
|The Scotsman will feature in this event for the first time, but we certainly shouldn’t be put off by that. MacIntrye has proven that he can cut it with the best this season, playing well at the Masters, as well as other events, while he’s won on the European Tour, where he is in the fifth-best player in terms of strokes gained: tee-to-green, in the last year too.|
Moreover, Mac played superbly at St. George’s last week, which tells us that he should have a little problem navigating his way around TPC Twin Cities. For $9,000, he’s going straight in the team.
|Odds To Win +550|
|Draft Kings $8,300|
|Yet another who enjoyed himself in Sandwich a week ago, Dylan Frittelli should have plenty to offer this week. He’s in form after finishing fifth in a major, while his game should be suited by the test presented by TPC Twin Cities.|
When this event was first held, Frittelli couldn’t quite keep up with the pace during what was a birdie fest. He finished 46th. He improved last year to finish 18th, suited by a more accuracy-demanding course. And after the way he picked his spots on one of the toughest courses in world golf last time out, the South African ought to continue his upward trajectory of finishes as this event.
|Charles Howell III|
|Odds To Win +7500|
|Draft Kings $7,700|
|A sleeper if ever there were one, Charles Howell III ticks plenty of boxes this week. The 42-year-old hasn’t won since 2018 – so less than a sleeper than Finau in that sense! – but he’s not had a bad campaign this time around by any means, achieving four top 30’s.|
Howell has also thrived in each of the two renewals of this event, finishing in a tie for 23rd first up, before improving, and really relishing the test in the process, to finish in a tie for third last season. His efforts on that occasion point towards him being priced a bit too low here. On that basis, the man who ranks highly in several strokes gained categories on this track, goes in as a sleeper.
|Odds to Win +27500|
|Draft Kings $6,500|
|Not yet a winner on the PGA Tour, Robby Shelton completes the lineup this week. The 25-year-old hasn’t had the best campaign, while unlike most of the team, he’s out of form having missed each of the last three cuts. However, he’s played well twice here before, which tells us that he might just like the venue.|
Ranks as the best in the field in terms of strokes gained: tee-to-green and strokes gained: ball-striking at TPC Twin Cities, which is hard to ignore. T3 last season bodes well and at such a low price, Shelton gets the call.