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3M Open Tips: Best bets for TPC Twin Cities

3m Open Tips: Sergio Garcia features
3m Open Tips: Sergio Garcia features

Collin Morikawa’s rise to the top continued at a much anticipated Open Championship last week, as he picked up his 2nd major title in 12 months, both on his debut in the events. Jordan Spieth a brilliant 2nd to get a place for us on what was an excellent week’s golf at Royal St George’s.

Back to the PGA Tour this week, for the 3M Open at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine, Minnesota.

Designed by Arnold Palmer in collaboration with Tom Lehman, Twin Cities is a 7,431 yard par 71, comprising of 11 par 4s, 4 par 3s and 3 par 5s. A scorable, risk-reward course with easy to hit fairways, plenty of water in play and heavy bunkering around the greens.

The event is only in its infancy, with this week version number three but with winning scores of -21, courtesy of Matthew Wolff in 2019 and -19 from Michael Thompson last year, we can already add it to the list of birdie-fests on the PGA Tour.

Though the event has produced two very different winners and different leaderboards. It’s not the type of birdie-fest where you can just putt the lights out to win, you have to generally hit the ball well, preferably both off the tee and in approach but at least rank high in one of them.

Today's golf tips

With Troy Merritt in 2019 the only player in either year to not rank particularly highly in any department of his long game but feature high on the leaderboard, thanks to his putter. Wolff and runner-up, Morikawa were 1st and 2nd in the tournament in 2019 and ranked 1st and 2nd in approach and even though Michael Thompson was the best putter in the field last year when winning, he was also 4th in approach.

The weather looks great currently, with a small chance of rain on Saturday in the forecast. Temperatures over 30c and nothing more than a strong breeze, it looks like great golfing conditions and I would expect that low scoring to continue unless the strong breeze turns into something more severe.

The field is relatively weak, with world #2 Dustin Johnson and #9 Louis Oosthuizen the highest ranked players. Both former champions tee it up, along with Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre, coming in off the back of another fabulous Open Championship performance, where he finished 8th to knock up his 2nd top 10 in the event in as many tries.

3m Open Tips

Golf betting
Sergio Garcia E/W (8 places)
Odds correct as of 2021-07-20 10:25 Odds subject to change.

Dustin Johnson heads the betting after a strong performance at The Open last week but at 7/1 is not considered. Next in the betting comes Louis Oosthuizen at 14/1, who must be feeling a little jaded after another close call in a major. Followed by Tony Finau, also at 14/1 and Patrick Reed at 18/1, though with the former’s inability to get over the line and the fact Reed just looks a little off, I’m starting further down the betting, with Sergio Garcia.

Another player with a good performance last week finishing 19th. This was the fourth top 20 in a row for the Spaniard, coming off the back of a tricky run in which he missed four cuts on the bounce. With two majors in amongst those top 20s, it looks like Garcia has rediscovered some form, making him a danger in such an event. 

Amongst the best drivers of the ball on tour where he ranks 3rd, he also ranks 8th for ball-striking and a respectable 61st for approach play, capable of blistering weeks in that respect. A winner as recently as last year on the PGA Tour, when he won another birdie-fest, literally with his eyes closed, as he won the Sanderson Farms Championship with a score of -19. 

Garcia is as much a price play as anything this week. Major champion with 30 other titles to boot, he’s one of the class acts in the field. Yet he’s rated a less likely winner than the likes of Cameron Tringale and Robert MacIntyre. In good form that doesn’t make sense to me and I’m willing to overlook his common deficiencies with the putter on a course he’s bound to give himself an abundance of birdie looks.

Matthew Wolff E/W (8 places)
Odds correct as of 2021-07-20 10:25 Odds subject to change.

My next bet is the inaugural winner of the event Matthew Wolff, who followed up that victory with a 12th place finish in the event last year.

Wolff returned from a 10 week hiatus at the US Open 5 weeks ago and looked in fantastic shape at times throughout that week, particularly on the greens and off the tee, culminating in a higher than expected 15th place finish. Following on from that he missed the cut at the Travelers Championship and finished an uninspiring 58th in the Rocket Mortgage Classic last time out.

Though he currently ranks 170th on tour off the tee, this is not a true reflection of this big hitter’s ability with the driver. Shown by the fact he ranked 12th in that respect last year. Fortunately, he looks to be driving it well again with that performance in the US Open, where he ranked 4th off the tee and even in the missed cut at the Travelers and 58th in the Rocket Mortgage, he didn’t drive it terribly. Added to that he’s a quality iron player, ranking 34th and a solid putter, ranking 79th.

A stud amateur, he flew out of the blocks in his pro career by winning this event on just his 4th start over Collin Morikawa and Bryson DeChambeau, matching the latter’s eagle to win by one. A 2nd in the Rocket Mortgage Classic last year, which should act as a great comparison with this course, not just by his performances at both events but the man he finished 2nd to last year, DeChambeau, who gained revenge on Wolff snatching the 3M from him a year earlier.

Surely motivated by Morikawa’s continued success, he’s an incredibly entertaining and aggressive player, perfectly suited to this event as his record shows. If he can continue to show rekindled form with the driver and hit his irons well, he should have a say this week.

Bo Hoag E/W (8 places)
Odds correct as of 2021-07-20 10:30 Odds subject to change.

Of those at 100/1+, Japan’s Satoshi Kodaira continues to play well and Cameron Champ showed signs of life in the John Deere Classic last time out and in form, would be suited to this test. Though instead I’ll go with a man producing some fantastic approach play numbers recently, who also finished 12th here on his solo start, Ohio’s Bo Hoag.

A bit of a late bloomer, Hoag picked up his first title as a pro at the age of 31, in the Portland Open on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2019, winning with an impressive score of -22. Since then, he’s plied his trade solely on the PGA Tour and produced some encouraging results along the way, a few of them in recent weeks.

Just one missed cut in his last seven events, he’s also recorded his two highest finishes since he finished 12th here last year. A 13th place finish in his home state in the Memorial Tournament in July, he then followed a few solid if unspectacular weeks with an 11th place finish in the Barbasol Championship last week, where he shot every round in the 60s.

The undoubted standout part of his game has been in approach play. 68th for the season is solid enough but in his last few starts he was 3rd in approach play in the Barbasol and 2nd  at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Even in his underwhelming 47th place finish at the John Deere Classic, his iron play was comfortably the best part of his game.

He’ll need to have a better week on the greens but is bound to give himself plenty of chances around here if his iron play keeps up. With results like his victory on the Korn Ferry Tour and 16th in the American Express, to go with his 12th here last year, he’s shown a liking for this kind of birdie heavy test and I expect him to continue that good run of form this week.

Lanto Griffin E/W (10 places)
Odds correct as of 2021-07-20 10:30 Odds subject to change.

Of the others, Stewart Cink was tempting to bounce back from that miserable 2nd round last week, where he missed the cut after starting strong. Cameron Davis was 12th here last year and won the similar Rocket Mortgage Classic a couple of weeks ago, with Luke List also looking like a good putting week away from a win. Though instead, I’m going to finish with a couple of other fancies, the first who has no problems regarding the putter, Lanto Griffin.

After a solid but unspectacular season on the PGA Tour in 2018, Griffin dropped back down to the Korn Ferry Tour in 2019, picking up a victory to gain the step up, once again to the PGA Tour for the 19/20 season. This time finishing top 20 in his first six starts, including claiming his first PGA Tour title in the Houston Open. More of the same in 2020, where Griffin was ultra-consistent, picking up four top 10s amongst many other quality performances.

He hit the top 50 in the world for the first time in his career earlier this year and is enjoying another solid year. He started 2021 well and after a bit of a tricky period a couple of months ago, where he missed four cuts in five events, he’s showing signs of coming back into form. He’s since made four cuts on the bounce, including 35th and 33rd place finishes in majors, the US Open and Open Championship respectively.

A player who has shown an ability to win, with four titles to his name across the varying levels of the game. He hasn’t played here before but has the game to contend as he’s a very good iron player, where he ranks 38th and a good putter, ranking 42nd. If he can bring that level of play here, I see no reason why he can’t take to this course on his first look.

Mito Pereira E/W (8 places)
Odds correct as of 2021-07-20 10:30 Odds subject to change.

Finally, we come to Mito Pereira, a young player who’s made serious strides on the Korn Ferry Tour the last couple of years and very much looks a player to watch at this level, particularly on these kinds of courses.

A former top 5 amateur, the 26 year old Chilean has enjoyed a stellar spell on the Korn Ferry Tour in the last two years, picking up 3 victories to earn automatic promotion to the PGA Tour. Achieving this incredibly impressively, winning back-to-back events in June. Most notably all three events he’s won at the lower level came with winning scores of -20 or lower, showing his liking for the type of test that awaits this week.

That is further backed up by his stats on the Korn Ferry Tour, where he shows himself to have an excellent long game. 8th in ball striking, 9th in total driving and 14th in greens in regulation. Add all this to a rock solid 45th in putting and you quickly see why he’s won so many and with the scores he has. 

He’s had three starts on the PGA Tour in the last three weeks and has improved with every one. First missing the cut by two at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, followed by 34th at the John Deere Classic and an excellent 5th place finish in the Barbasol Championship last week, where he carried over that excellent ball striking, ranking 4th tee-to-green and 2nd off the tee.

A fearless, aggressive birdie machine who has plenty of scope to make a career for himself at this level. He has a game perfectly suited for this and with his results at this level trending perfectly in three starts, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him go one step further and enter the winner’s circle early on, on the PGA Tour.

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