3M OPEN: While this week’s 3M Open may not be able to match last week’s Memorial in terms of prestige or star power, it will be nice as a viewer to get something fresh after two consecutive weeks of Muirfield Village, and if nothing else, a tournament that is only in its second year of existence and didn’t draw many eyeballs or recognizable names last year certainly qualifies as “fresh”.
And though it’s true that several big names have elected to recharge the batteries this week in preparation for a jam-packed next two months, it’s not like this field is a collection of nobodies; in fact it’s much stronger than you would traditionally expect at an event of this nature, though unfortunately for the fans in Minnesota, they won’t be able to get any closer to the action than we will.
Still, I’m sure the locals who frequent TPC Twin Cities will enjoy seeing the likes of Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka stalk the fairways, even if it is on television, and if 2019 is any indication, they can expect to see plenty of red numbers. Matthew Wolff took home the trophy last year, and the course was notable for how easy it played: the field’s GIR percentage was 74% (Tour average is 63%- h/t TheCaddieNetwork), Wolff’s 21-under total was only good enough for a 1-shot victory over two players, and 12-under didn’t even crack the top-30. The fairways are supposedly going to be made a bit narrower this year in spots, and the rough is said to be about a half-inch longer, but with generous greens and pure bentgrass putting surfaces, the birdies are sure to be flowing.
BETDAQ’s market leader is Dustin Johnson (13.0), and that would be unremarkable except for the fact that he’s fresh off posting back-to-back 80s to miss the cut by a mile at the Memorial. Serious question: has there ever been another instance, say in the last 100 years or so, where a player has missed the cut at a professional event after posting back-to-back rounds of 80 or higher, and was the undisputed favorite in the worldwide betting markets the very next week? I doubt it’s ever happened before, but I don’t think anyone would be too shocked it DJ walked off with the trophy this week. That said, I’ll be looking elsewhere:
Recommendations to BACK (odds in parenthesis)
Sam Burns (46.0)- The 23-year old Burns really seems to be rounding into form since the restart, following a narrow missed cut at the RBC Heritage with three consecutive top-30 finishes, the latest being a T17 at the Workday Charity Open two weeks ago. He’s extremely long off the tee, ranking 10th on Tour in driving distance (311.1 yards per drive), and he’s deadly with the putter, ranking in the top-20 in total putting, so he’s just the type of player you want at a birdie-fest where guys can smack the driver around a little bit. He showed it in this tournament last year, closing with a Sunday 64 to post 16-under and sneak into the top-10. Given that result and his current trajectory, you’d have to think he’s awfully confident heading into this week, and he sure feels like a nice value at a price like 46.0.
Dylan Frittelli (84.0)- Ever since his victory at last year’s John Deere Classic, which occurred almost exactly 12 months ago, Frittelli has been a totally different player. In that time, spanning 19 tournaments, he’s logged three top-10s and seven top-25s after producing exactly zero top-10s over his first 30 career PGA Tour starts. He’s coming off a solid week at the Memorial, where he finished 22nd despite struggling over the weekend, and he’s just three starts removed from an 8th-palce showing at the Heritage, where he closed with a Sunday 62. He played this tournament last year and opened with rounds of 66-69-66, so he should have a good plan of attack for TPC Twin Cities, and last year’s result came just before his breakthrough at the John Deere, when he was still Old Frittelli, before the sight of his name on leaderboards became a semi-regular occurrence. He’s a much more confident player now and has a better chance than his price would indicate this week.
Si Woo Kim (110.0)- Kim seems to have found his game again after an extended rough patch, making his last four cuts and finding the top-20 twice in that span, including at last week’s Memorial, where he finished T18. I’m sure he’ll be eager to take to the friendly fairways of TPC Twin Cities after four difficult rounds at Muirfield Village, and though he didn’t play great in this tournament last year, shooting 71-71 to miss the cut by two, we should keep in mind that last year’s performance came in the midst of a stretch of five straight missed cuts, and he actually scored better here than he did in any of the other five events. So, I think we should view the fact that he played at all, and gained experience on the course, as a positive. And remember– though he hasn’t yet been able to recapture that Players Championship magic, he has logged six top-5 finishes over the last two seasons, so when he’s playing well, this is a guy who can make some serious noise. I haven’t backed him in awhile, but I’m taking a chance on Kim this week at better than 100/1.