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By Alex Lauzon from the “Course of Life” podcast
With St. Andrews in our rearview, the Tour returns stateside to suburban Minnesota for the 3M Open.
THE HOME STRETCH
With the season’s final Major passing, we’ve officially hit the point where we’re counting down how many events are left.
As that number dips below a handful, the pressure builds. After the next few tournaments it’s Fedex Cup Playoffs season, so the next 30 days will determine PGA Tour status, who’s in the playoffs, and who’s losing their PGA Tour cards. There’s a lot on the line for players who have struggled to put together a job-keeping season. The nerves ooze out in July and August with few tour stops remaining – players get desperate and it gets compelling. This week’s venue, TPC Twin Cities, is a fairly new one to the Tour, but it’s produced some fireworks in its young history. With its positioning directly after the last major of the season, most of the world’s best are off and traveling home in some capacity to begin to gear up for their playoff run. This is prime pickings for a lesser-known or struggling tour player to cash their best check of 2022.
There’s something so delightfully kitschy and adorable about this week’s track on tour. TPC Twin Cities in Blaine, MN, twists and turns its way through a lush green, pine-filled suburban neighborhood. Adequately large colonial homes with patios overlooking the back nine and all the friendly “Minnesota nice” vibes you would come to expect. The niceness extends to the course as well. It’s a very reasonable 7400-ish yard layout that includes a par 5 finishing hole that lends its fair share of eagles, including a memorable one by Matthew Wolff in his debut win here in 2019. With short par 4’s riddled throughout the track and water hazards abundant in the Land of 10000 Lakes, it’s a classic risk-reward TPC layout.
FORECASTING THE 3M
Weeks like this are what separate your average bettor from a sharp. We’re looking further down the typical list of names, as a weaker field present opportunity galore for almost anybody to thrive. As lower Fedex Cup ranked players get more desperate and the clock ticks down, I’m looking a but further down the list than I usually may when forming my picks. Specifically, I’m looking for players with good driving performance that are motivated to play well during this final stretch, whether that be because of recent form or the need to get hot and improve postseason positioning.
MAKING YOUR PICKS
I’m prefacing my weekly picks based on exactly what I value the most. With every play I make, I’m always taking into account these factors and for the 3M Open, I’m sticking with a couple familiar faces and also taking flyers on guys who need good weeks.
1. Who’s hot and trending – recent high finishes, top 10 streaks and consistent play are never a bad thing.
2. Horses for courses – players love certain courses and course familiarity and experience are invaluable in a field of the world’s best.
3. What the numbers tell you this week – while I’m far from analytical, there’s always a tournament darling or two scattered across the golf talk stratosphere that stuns on paper.
4. Intangibles – while this allows for theater of the mind, there’s a mysterious optimism surrounding that feels “due” or if the price looks just right for buying.
Last week at The Open Championship, I hitched my wagon to Rory and well… you saw what happened there. He got lapped in the final 9 holes so no W to claim there, but my roster was all but filled with guys who played the weekend and did some leaderboard climbing, so a B- it is for picks in the final Major.
THE SIXPACK OF PICKS
(Wanna start a Pick-X pool with your friends? Learn more here! Or, if you’re looking to start your own PGA One-and-Done pool, check those out here) (Hint: the main difference between the two is how many players you’ll pick each week)
1: Sungjae Im – Feels like a proper week for the PGA Tour’s ironman to ball strike us to death. He played the weekend at St. Andrews and is set for birdies in Minnesota.
2: Cam Davis – Played great last week, but not at The Open – his dance with contending at The Barracuda ended Sunday, but he’s playing nicely and shouldn’t have much jet lag this week. Tied for 28th here last year.
3: Cameron Champ – The defending champ getting a bit overlooked this week, have to fire on a guy with success here last year with such a light field on-hand.
4: JT Poston – The recent winner at the John Deere should bring some of that hot putter to a very similarly laid out Midwest TPC track.
5: Stewart Cink – Love the grizzled veteran, and though his play has been quiet recently this is a point-to-point course that suits his game well.
6: Chris Gotterup – A virtual no name who has snaked his way into a few PGA Tour starts this year. He’s got no status on Tour so why not take a flier on a hot hand that’s rolling at the table right now.
My RYP One-and-Done Pick: Sungjae Im
Where to watch: Golf Channel and CBS all weekend!
Why to watch: With a month left until playoffs, it’s desperation time for “the rest of the tour” that need to keep their job for another season.
What to eat: A Juicy Lucy and some Cheese Curds
Purse: $7.5 million
Winner’s Share: $1.35 million