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BlogPrelude to the 3M Open

3M Open

July 23rd – 26th, 2020

TPC Twin Cities

Blaine, MN

Par: 71 / Yardage: 7,468

Purse: $6.6 million

with $1,188,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Matthew Wolff

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

Start of the homestretch

Nice to see that we have played six events since the break and golf has been really successful. The PGA Tour has worked hard on both the PGA Tour and Korn Ferry Tour in making them safe and it shows. The tours have done 6,000 tests on players, caddies, and officials and only had 21 positive tests, showing what a great job everyone has done to not only being safe but maintain the bubble from week to week. The biggest disappointment is that there haven’t been any spectators so far and it looks like the next possible event with fans will be the U.S. Open in September.

The tour saw the return of Tiger Woods at the Memorial with mixed results. He shot 71-76 to make the cut on the number thanks to birdies on two of his final three holes. That kept his streak alive of making the cut in all of his 18 Memorial starts. As for the whole week, Tiger shot 71-76 over the weekend for a six over total finishing T-40th. Physically he had a tight back on Friday which could cause some concern and wasn’t able to make any future commitments like the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational or the PGA Championship the following weekend. The good news from the week, Tiger was ok in ball striking, the example he was 26th in Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green and 6th in Strokes Gained Approach the green. But of the 74 players to make the cut, Tiger was 61st in scrambling and 56th in Strokes Gained Putting showing that he is rusty and showed the lack of not making any competitive starts. Tiger brushed the poor putting to the greens saying he had been in Florida on Bermuda greens and was uncomfortable with breaking putts on bent greens. Still, he agreed with the reporters that he needed more reps before Harding Park but won’t say when that will be.
Talking about big names not playing well, the first was the top-rated player Rory McIlroy has played terribly since the break. He finished T-32nd, ¬†with Jon Rahm winning Rory is no longer #1 as Rahm takes the honor. It makes sense, in McIlroy’s four starts since the break he has played indifferent golf, only once did he play four solid rounds, at Travelers were he finished T-11th. But in his other three starts, he didn’t break into the top-25 which is a rarity of poor play out of McIlroy. Rory shot 78 in a weird final round at the Memorial in which he hit 10 of 14 fairways and 10 of 18 greens. He started out strange as he was 1 under in his first four holes, made a triple-bogey 8 on the fifth hole which led to the 78, his highest round since the disastrous first round at last year’s British Open at Royal Portrush. So the two things to think about Rory, first in his four starts after the break they are in events that he never plays in (Charles Schwab & Heritage) and never has played well in (Travelers & Memorial). Also, we remember that after his poor play at Portrush, McIlroy fought back to finish T-4th at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude so we can’t worry about his last four starts, he will bounce back.
Two players that are a big shock and frankly we shake our heads over are Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka. For Johnson, we can’t explain how he can win the Travelers and three weeks later shots 80-80 to miss the cut. Only one player was worst than Johnson at the Memorial (David Lingmerth 82-82). In Johnson’s career of 268 PGA Tour starts, he has only missed 40 cuts (82% making cuts). Even more impressive, since missing back to back cuts at the 2017 Memorial and U.S. Open, Johnson has played in 55 events and only missed four cuts (two in his last four starts). Just like McIlroy, Johnson never plays Colonial so that is one excuse and as for Memorial, he has missed the cut four times in 13 Memorial starts and we could say that possibly the course isn’t great for Johnson.
Now for Brooks Koepka maybe there are more problems than we are seeing. Koepka started having pain in his left knee at the Memorial last May and had treatments after the Tour Championship in which he had stem cell treatments on his left patella. He came back too soon in Korea and that set him back just after Christmas. In January and February, he was very frustrated with his game and wondered if he would ever play the same again. After a visit to Butch Harman in March which got him straight again, the break due to the Pandemic helped give him more time to heal. He felt great at the Charles Schwab but over four starts it’s become a struggle again. During the Workday, he started to struggle with some discomfort, an MRI the Monday after revealed no problems. But again at the Memorial he struggled, he made the cut on the number but shot 73-80 over the weekend. Every part of his game is in distress other than putting, but even that is not like past years. But his biggest problems are driving, he was 12th last year in Strokes Gained Tee-to-green, this year he is T-93rd. Last year he was 11th in Greens in Regulation, this year he is 179th. Even worst stat with three weeks before he is set to defend his back-to-back titles at the PGA Championship, two weeks before he is set to defend his WGC-FedEx St. Jude title Koepka is 154th in the FedExCup standings which means with four tournaments left he may not be in the playoffs this year. Koepka has changed his plans and will play this week at the 3M Open and we just have to wait and see if there is a physical problem or if his game is just in disarray right now.
One person that won’t be at the 3M Open but we worry about is Jason Day. He was the only player with back-to-back top-tens at Muirfield Village, finishing T-7th at the Workday Charity and T-4th at the Memorial, but admitted to being uncomfortable swinging the club. He has altered his swing to ease the pain and when he bends down to pick up a tee or take the ball out of the hole, he doesn’t bend down but does this curtesy that you see people do in meeting the Queen of England. This has been an ongoing problem going back years now and frankly each time he plays he is playing Russian Roulette with his career. So despite the good play the last couple of weeks, can’t expect that much from him in the coming weeks.
Now we get to the winner Jon Rahm. He was the only one to dominate the week and he did it with a 75 in the final round (was five over on the back nine). In the four years he has played professional golf, he has ten titles on the PGA and European Tours. Rahm hadn’t play well in golf’s return from the break but broke through at the Memorial. The reason he is #1 is in his last 57 weeks he has played in 23 events and won 4 of them, was 2nd in 4 of them, was 3rd in 3 of them. In total, he has 15 top-tens in the 23 starts. We never saw the win coming because in his four starts since the break his best finish was last week’s T-27th finish at the Workday Charity. In his final round, he shot 64 which tied for the low round of the week so that was his first volley that his game was starting to peak. He’s not playing this week, but have to think he will be the early favorite at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude and the PGA Championship.
As for Bryson DeChambeau who was the hottest player in golf, he missed the cut at Memorial and it will be interesting to see if his game will be as hot in Memphis next week. Same with Viktor Hovland who played in the first six events and saw his first out of the top-25 finish at Memorial, a T-48th. Collin Morikawa also finished T-48th at Memorial after winning the week before and Daniel Berger missed the cut at Memorial after winning at Colonial and T-3rd at Heritage.
Talking about those playing at the 3M Open, of the six winners since the break, Dustin Johnson is the only player entered this week. It’s hard to pinpoint any one player that goes into the 3M with a lot of momentum. Only four of the players in the top-ten at Memorial are entered at the 3M Open, Mackenzie Hughes (T-6th), Tony Finau (8th), Luke List (T-10th), and Xinjun Zhang (T-10th). Of those only one player, Hughes has multiple top-tens since the break (he was T-3rd at the Travelers). Last year at the 3M Open, Hughes finished T-65th so there is nothing saying he could be a favorite. Tony Finau was T-23rd last year at the 3M and played great the first two round at Memorial, but finished with a 73-78. In looking at last year’s results from the 3M Open, of those in the top-15 in the standings last year, only one player, Lucas Glover (He was T-7th last year at 3M) has played good this year since the break (T-23rd Colonial, T-21st at Heritage, T-20th Travelers, T-21st Rocket, T-36th Memorial). So that makes this week’s 3M Open a wide-open event with no real favorite.

Comments

  1. Douglas R says:

    I for one am not all that surprised about Koepka. He’s obviously not playing well and the issue with his knee is troubling. But has he ever really played well consistently aside from majors? If I’m not mistaken he was 6 wins, 4 of them are majors and 1 WGC. In majors, he’s made around 20 cuts in a row, no worse than 39th and the rest top 20s. I think it should be taken into consideration at tournaments like these. He’s never been too reliable. Thoughts?

  2. Brooks Koepka has always been this weird bird. Frankly, nobody has ever been able to figure him out. How does a person play well on the hardest courses in the world under tough conditions and can’t handle some easy course in Palm Springs? Tell me how Koepka’s record in the Shriners Hospitals event in Las Vegas is a 2nd, a 4th place, and three cuts? How is this possible? Koepka’s whole career has been out of wack, he couldn’t make it on either the PGA or the Korn Ferry Tour so he goes off to Europe and plays great over there.
    I am not a psychiatrist but have to think he has some sort of a reaction in some of the ways of life, he is totally different than most of us. This man has so much God-given talent, he should be winning like every other tournament. Again there is something in his thought process in which he can do well in a Masters, a U.S. Open or a PGA Championship, and then go play on some TPC course and miss the cut.
    If you ever figure it out you will be a rich man, we are seeing this more and more on the PGA Tour. How did Jon Rahm do so poorly in the four events he played before the Memorial and then play so well? Again it’s all a big mystery on the PGA Tour.

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