My original research for this event produced a seven-man list including youngster Doug Ghim.
We only have two editions of this event to go on and the strongest trend when perusing the top finishers seems to be Strokes Gained: Tee to Green. And within that metric which also includes Off The Tee and Around The Green, SG Approach numbers leap out.
Matthew Wolff was 1st Tee to Green and 2nd in Approach when winning in 2019. Some bloke called Collin Morikawa was 2nd and 1st in those same two categories when taking third.
Last year Michael Thompson was 4th for Approach although he also topped the SG: Putting stats. Holing everything can always be the decisive factor but, overall, putting has’t been everything at TPC Twin Cities.
Wolff was only 39th for SGP while Morikawa was 47th. Wow, imagine if Morikawa could putt, he’d have won a couple of majors by now… oh.
Ghim’s last start came in the John Deere Classic where he ranked 2nd for Approach and 6th Tee to Green. He’s 16th on the season-long Approach stats and 25th Tee to Green, mixing it with some of the very best on Tour.
The putter has held him back so far but he’s gained strokes on the field with the flatstick in two of the last three events at least and, as stated, it doesn’t seem the be all and end all on this track.
Ghim has progressive form figures of 54-32-18 coming in to the 3M Open so he’s trending in the right direction as the catchphrase goes.
Now to the focus on course form which adds further weight to his chances.
The 25-year-old, who finished runner-up in the 2017 US Amateur, made his debut last year and got better each day, shooting 70-68-67-66 to post tied 18th.
When narrowing the shortlist, I also stumbled on this tweet from Justin Ray: “TPC Twin Cities had the second-most approach shots hit by the field from 175-200 yards of any course on Tour in 2019 + 2020. Only PGA National had more in that span.”
Top of the 175-200 yards stats this season? Yep, Doug Ghim. One place in front of Morikawa.
Talking of which, for those who like the idea of inspiration, Ghim and Morikawa are great friends. Both live in Las Vegas and they played on the 2017 US Walker Cup team together.
Wolff, the 2019 3M champ, was also on that team so maybe this is a good event for youngsters on the way up.
Conclusion: Take Ghim at 45/1.
A different type of golfer in terms of profile is 39-year-old Chez Reavie.
Having put up Stewart Cink at 125s to win at Hilton Head, I like a golfer who can win the week after a major.
Well, Reavie is part of that club too. Two years ago, he punched above his weight to finish third in the US Open at Pebble Beach before riding the wave and winning the Travelers Championship one week later.
That was 11 years on from his previous win, the 2008 Canadian Open which came the week after the Open Championship!
True, he didn’t play in that event but let’s frame it as Reavie being able to cash in when others were feeling it a little after a major.
So, with both his wins coming in weeks after a major was played, let’s try the Cink trick again.
Reavie played at Royal St George’s, finishing 59th, but there were more good signs on the Kent coast.
He fired a second-round 66 and that came after a run of three top 25s in five starts – T14 at the Palmetto, T25 at the Travelers and T18 at the John Deere. He also played four rounds at the US Open.
In all four of those events, he ranked in the top 20 for Approach while he was 7th, 11th and 12th respectively for SG: Tee To Green at the Palmetto, US Open and Travelers.
At the John Deere two weeks ago, he said: “I played solid. The biggest thing for me is just the putter. I’ve been hitting the ball well now for about a month, month-and-a-half. The putter has just kind of been really hot and cold, and today it was hot and felt as good today as it has in a long, long time.”
The first part of that quote relates to the upturn in form which followed a horrid run of seven missed cuts from March to late May. However, that seems long behind him now.
We’re guessing if he’ll take to the 7,431-yard par 71 as this is his Twin Cities debut.
Even in this mixed season, he’s 23rd in SG: Approach so Reavie has plenty going for him at 80/1.
Seamus Power showed punters the value of following a player in hot form when winning the Barbasol Championship last week.
Prior to that he’d reeled off finishes of 9-19-19-8-8, those T8s coming at the John Deere and Rocket Mortgage Classic.
This week’s Seamus Power will hopefully be Hank Lebioda.
The 27-year-old from Florida is in flying form right now after a trio of top 10s: tied fifth at the Travelers, tied fourth in the Rocket Mortgage and tied eighth in the John Deere Classic.
He’d also made the top 20 in two of his previous four starts so this burst hasn’t come out of thin air.
Lebioda has jumped from 387th to 164th in the world rankings as a result.
What does he doe well? A check of his stats shows him in the top 20 for Greens In Regulation and 36th for Approaches from 200 yards.
The big bonus is that he’s a top line putter too. Lebioda is 24th for SG: Putting this season and in his last three starts he’s ranked in the top six for SGP.
Asked at the John Deere about the change in form, he said: “It’s just consistency of routines. Continuing to do what I know is going to help make me a better putter, better ball striker, better mentally, a little tougher, and I think the continuation of doing those things over and over again has been able to kind of develop this nice confidence I have right now.
“Golf it fun. Golf is really fun at the moment, and I’m going to do my best to stick to my routines I have, stick to my work and just keep it going.
“This is the third straight week I’ve been leading on Sunday on the back nine. Granted, early in the day today, but if I keep that up, I’m bound to find myself in a position where things could get really interesting.”
This looks a good time to sneak that first win although there are some big names in the field.
They include Dustin Johnson (13/2), Louis Oosthuizen (14/1), Tony Finau (14/1) and Patrick Reed (18/1) while Sergio Garcia (25/1) and Robert MacIntyre (28/1) line up too.
But there are doubts over that half-dozen for differing reasons so I’ll go with Ghim, Reavie and Lebioda to hopefully secure a winning week.