With golf’s major championship ‘season’ complete for 2021, the focus is now on qualifying for the end of season FedEx Cup Play-Offs.
Just four tournaments remain for golfers to make certain of their Tour status for next season, or secure a high enough FedEx ranking that will give them a fighting chance of reaching the Tour Championship in early September.
First up is the 3M Open in Minnesota, one of the newest events on the PGA Tour calendar.
It was first staged in 2019, and survived the Covid-reshuffle 12 months ago.
For the third straight year, the tournament will be hosted by TPC Twin Cities which is laid out around 900 feet above sea level.
Opened in 2000, the course was designed by Arnold Palmer in consultation with Tom Lehman.
TPC Twin Cities is the most northerly American venue on this season’s PGA Tour schedule.
Situated approximately 15 miles north of Downtown Minneapolis, the course was part of the Champions Tour for 18 years from 2001.
It then switched its allegiance to the PGA Tour, although the course had to be toughened up before the arrival of golf’s world elite.
This task belonged to Lehman and Steve Wenzloff whose changes included narrowing fairways, adding new tees and bunkers, as well as growing areas of rough.
There is a plentiful supply of sizeable water hazards which come into play on 12 holes, while sand is also a constant threat.
Fairways change direction many times on this parkland course where the undulating greens form a large part of its defence.
On the tee
A number of leading pros have made an immediate return from Kent to tee-up in Minneapolis, including world No 2 Dustin Johnson.
Johnson’s tie-for-eighth in England was his highest finish since February and, after opting out of next week’s Olympic golf tournament in Japan, has decided to chase FedEx Cup points instead.
Four of the world’s top 20 are among the entries, although the winner may emerge from lower down the list, depending on how badly some players are affected by jet-lag.
One member of this quartet is world No 19 Tony Finau who may be able to find some inspiration from his tie-for-third at Twin Cities last year.
Latest odds for the 3M Open in Minnesota
Perhaps one player who will benefit from resting-up last week is Bubba Watson who was denied the chance to compete in Kent because of Covid.
The 42-year-old was due to fly to England but discovered he’d been in contact with someone who had tested positive and, despite being vaccinated, had to withdraw.
Watson should be motivated to put that frustration to good use this week, after finishing tied-sixth on his most recent outing in Detroit.
Among those in decent form right now is Luke List, a former world No 45 who is currently 142.
The big-hitting 36-year-old has enjoyed back-to-back T5s – albeit in low prestige events – and remains hungry for a maiden PGA Tour title.
Four times he has stood on the podium, most recently at Harbour Town three years ago.
Finally, the last few months has witnessed some better form from Jhonattan Vegas.
The 36-year-old Venezuelan tied-second last month in South Carolina, and was just outside the top-10 on his last outing at the John Deere Classic. Vegas is a three-time winner on Tour, although hasn’t tasted glory since 2017.
Twitter: Andy Swales@GolfStatsAlive
MC* – Missed Additional 54-Hole Cut
Note: List Contains Leading Reserves