3M Open preview: Struggling stars look for answers in Minnesota
It's quite the visual contrast to go from the links of Royal Liverpool in England to the lake-filled layout of TPC Twin Cities in Minnesota, but that's exactly what's in store on the PGA TOUR this week.
With the season's final major in the rearview, it's all about the race to the FedEx Cup Playoffs as the jockeying for position on the points list heats up. One must be inside the top 70 following next week's Wyndham Championship to make the field for the first playoff event in Memphis.
Players like Justin Thomas, Hideki Matsuyama, and Cameron Young are in the field this week to solidify their playoff standing, while defending champion Tony Finau is looking to get back on track after three missed cuts in his last five events.
When: July 27-30
Where: TPC Twin Cities, Blaine, Minnesota
How to watch
|July 27||4 p.m. - 7 p.m.||GOLF|
|July 28||4 p.m. - 7 p.m.||GOLF|
|July 29||1 p.m. - 3 p.m.||GOLF|
|3 p.m. - 6 p.m.||CBS|
|July 30||1 p.m. - 3 p.m.||GOLF|
|3 p.m. - 6 p.m.||CBS|
Last year's result
Scott Piercy led Finau by five shots with only 11 holes to play on Sunday but blew up down the stretch to fall out of the lead. After a bogey-bogey finish to the front nine, Piercy shot a 5-over 41 on the back nine to drop out of contention entirely. A triple-bogey 7 on the 14th virtually ended any chances he had at winning before he eventually finished in a tie for fourth.
Piercy's collapse opened the door for Finau, who finished with a 4-under 67 on the day to claim his third PGA TOUR victory. Finau would carry the momentum from Minnesota into the following week at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit, going back-to-back and winning for the fourth time in his career.
2022: Tony Finau
2021: Cameron Champ
2020: Michael Thompson
2019: Matthew Wolff
3 reasons to watch
Thomas desperate for results
Thomas wasn't initially committed to play this week in Minneapolis, but another disastrous major result has the 30-year-old desperate for both FedEx Cup points and positive form heading into Ryder Cup selection. Thomas fired a shocking opening-round 82 at Royal Liverpool, his second straight major score in the 80s after a second-round 81 at the U.S. Open. That prompted him to sign on for this week's event - something he prepared for during his second round in England.
"I used today as a good opportunity to get ready for next week, and I felt like I did that," Thomas told reporters, according to ASAP Sports. "The golf in Minnesota is obviously slightly different than here in Liverpool. But I'm hitting a lot of good shots. I'm just making so many boneheaded mistakes, and crazy things (are happening)."
Thomas is also in the field next week at the Wyndham Championship, and he likely needs a strong result in one of the two events just to make the playoffs. He currently sits 75th in the standings - five spots outside the qualification zone.
Playoffs around the corner
Thomas isn't the only big name that needs some quality play this week to either qualify for the playoffs or cement their place. Billy Horschel sits way back in 119th in the FedEx Cup standings and needs a couple of massive weeks to move inside the top 70. While that number makes the first playoff event, only the top 50 will tee it up in the second tournament. That puts Matsuyama in serious jeopardy, as the Japanese star is 54th in the standings. The final name to watch is Young. The 25-year-old looked great last week at The Open en route to an eighth-place showing. He's currently 41st in the standings and would love to lock down a top-30 spot for the TOUR Championship.
Caddie turned player
Erik van Rooyen will tee off Thursday with caddie Alex Gaugert in his group, just as it has been for the last four years the two have been together. However, this week, Gaugert won't be carrying his good friend's bag; he'll be playing alongside him. Gaugert qualified for the tournament on Monday and will make his PGA TOUR debut as a player. The tournament committee immediately put the two in the same group - something that could make for a very entertaining viewing experience in the opening two rounds.
Cameron Young +1,400
Sungjae Im +1,400
Tony Finau +1,400
Hideki Matsuyama +1,400
Justin Thomas +2,200
Emiliano Grillo +2,500
Sepp Straka +2,500
Cam Davis +3,300
Ludvig Aberg +3,300
Gary Woodland +3,500
Sahith Theegala +3,500
Aaron Rai +4,000
Adam Hadwin +4,000
Keith Mitchell +4,000
Lucas Glover +4,000
Patrick Rodgers +4,000
Stephan Jaeger +4,000
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