Again the best PGA golfers in the world returned to the TPC in Blaine July 20-26 for the second annual 3M Open. This time it was the first professional sporting event in the state since March 11 when the coronavirus pandemic shut the entire sports business down. No fans were permitted, which has become the new normal.
Tournament director Hollis Cavner did not have the strongest field in 2020—no Tiger Woods, Rory McIIroy, Jon Ralm, Justin Thomas, Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Rose, Adam Scott, Patrick Reed, Gary Woodland or Matt Kuchar. However, the Fortune 500 giant 3M did raise $1.5 million for local area charities, and that’s huge.
It was hot and muggy all week and the course was in great condition. The 156-player field made a lot birdies and put on another spectacular scoring display. In 2019, the 3M Open, won by rookie Matthew Wolff at -21, produced 1,976 birdies, the most on tour, and 260 golf balls found the water.
One thing is certain about playing in the 3M Open at the TPC: The purse is large, $6,600,000, and you have to go low. That is what Michael Thompson did with 64-66-68-67-165. Thompson birdied the 18th hole to win by two at -19.
It was Thompson’s second win on tour and his first since 2013 when he won the Honda Classic, beating Adam Long by two shots. Long was -17. “It was an unbelievable day. I just played really solid golf,” said the emotional Thompson. “I think I only had three bogeys all week. Just really stuck to my game, played Michael Thompson golf, allowed my putter to speak volumes.”
Coming down the stretch with the heat on, tied on the drive-able 16th hole, a 302-yard par 4, Thompson drove his ball into the left green side bunker. He had the toughest shot in golf, a long bunker shot. He executed the tough 30-foot shot, hit the ball within two feet, and made birdie.
Thompson wins $1.188 million and a prized two-year exemption on tour, plus invites to the PGA Championship, Masters and U.S. Open. He also qualifies for the WGC in Memphis next week.
It’s really amazing how gifted these pros are. I have never seen nine players all with a chance to win shooting -16 three shots back to tie for third.
The players included the talented tough-luck Tony Finau, who over the last four years has 30 top-10 finishes on tour without winning. Second best on tour is Tommy Fleetwood with 16. “It was a great week,” said Finau. “I played really nicely. I gave myself a chance to win today. Man, I had some great looks coming down the stretch. I thought it would have been nice of them to fall. I like where the game’s at with three Majors right around the corner.”
Defending champion young gun Matthew Wolff again played well and got into contention on Sunday, finishing -14 five back in a tie for 12th.The biggest name marquee stars all missed the cut, including world number-four Dustin Johnson, four-time Major winner Brooks Koepka, two-time Masters Champ Bubba Watson, and Fleetwood.
It was hard to believe. I never experienced or covered a professional tournament and such a huge event at the TPC with no fans.