Pat Mayo and Geoff Fienberg preview the course and run through the odds while making their 2021 3M Open Picks. The guys give their fantasy golf picks, provide their one and done strategy for the event from TPC Twin Cities.
2021 3M Open: Field
Field: 156 Players | Top 65 and Ties Make the Cut after 36 Holes
First Tee: Thursday, July 22, at 8:00 a.m. ET
Defending Champion: Michael Thompson
There are a couple of key dates upcoming in the golf world in the next month. Only four events remain (two in the same week, so three, really) to qualify for the FedEx Cup Playoffs. For the elite on TOUR, that means jockeying for position to give themselves enough points to ensure a trip to East Lake and the best shot at securing the $15 million payday. For many others, including a lot of the field at the 2021 3M Open, it’s about earning enough points to get inside the Top 125 and earn or retain their PGA TOUR card for next year. Yes, the $15 million would also be in play for them too, however, that’s not likely to happen.
The Ryder Cup qualification period is nearing an end as well. For the American side, the top six in the points race will earn an automatic spot on the squad following the BMW Championship at the end of August, leaving the final six spots to be selected by captain Steve Stricker. Collin Morikawa, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas all appear to be pretty safe for the auto selections. Xander Schauffele currently holds the final spot, but Jordan Spieth is only a few points behind. Harris English, Patrick Cantlay and Daniel Berger can also go get that spot with some hot play down the stretch. As can Patrick Reed and Tony Finau, which is likely why they’re in the field this week in Minneapolis.
Since Branden Grace and Jason Kokrak (for the second straight year) have already withdrawn from the event, Finau and Reed join Dustin Johnson and Louis Oosthuizen at the top of this field. Bubba Watson, Sergio Garcia,
Brian Harman, Lucas Herbert, 2018 winner Matthew Wolff, Cameron Davis and the recently added Robert Macintyre, fresh off a T8 at The Open, are the buffer between the elite talent and the rest of the field who are firmly in the bucket of trying to get that TOUR card for 2022.
That includes Rickie Fowler, currently No. 124 in the FedEx Cup standings. He’s probably done something I can’t remember to keep his card, but even if it didn’t, every sponsor exemption next year would go to him.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Brian Harman has withdrawn from the 3M Open.
2021 3M Open: Key Stats
Strokes Gained: Approach
Strokes Gained: Off The Tee
Par 4s 450-500 Yards Gained
Mayo’s Key Stats powered by FantasyNational.com
2021 3M Open: Course
Course: TPC Twin Cities
2021 3M Open: Past Winners
2020: Michael Thompson -19
2019: Matthew Wolff -21
2021 3M Open: Strategy
Year two at TPC Twin Cities provided a similar event as year one. Lots of birdies and eagles, with a jammed leaderboard coming down the stretch. The course is pretty easy. That’s been a theme (outside of The Open) over the last month.
When I walked the course in 2018 it was pretty clear how to win: Be the hottest putter of the good approach players and avoid the twisted numbers by staying out of the ubiquitous water. There are 27 water hazards (in play on 14 holes) and 72 sand traps. Avoid the aqua, score a lot. Only holes No. 5, 8, 13 and 15 are devoid of the essence of moisture. Think of it as a really easy PGA National, something I should have followed up with last year with Michael Thompson. He’s now won at both courses.
Year one was the ultimate ball-strikers showcase: Wolff outlasted Bryson and Morikawa down the stretch with an eagle on No. 18 to claim the title and showed up in the strokes gained metrics last year too, albeit on a lesser scale. While SG: OTT was far more pronounced for the leaders in 2018, it was less of a factor a year ago. So, be awesome with the irons, gain a few strokes off the tee and don’t be an absolute train wreck on the bentgrass greens. A hot putter can run you up the leaderboard, it always can, but it’s going to be pointless if you can’t strike an iron.
The trickiest part is avoiding the land mines, as they’ll be pretty random. With so much water populating the grounds, one poorly judged approach can be the end of the week with so many other players going low. That puts more variance into this tournament than most. Recovering from a bogey isn’t tough at a birdiefest; recovering from a triple because of the water is a tad trickier. Don’t be afraid to take a few leaps of faith in your DraftKings lineups this week.
The course was lengthened over 300 yards from its appearances on the Champions Tour, and the fairways have been narrowed, but they’re not so thin that it makes them difficult to hit. In the two years, the field has hit around 65% of fairways, slightly above the 62% PGA TOUR average, with driving distance around 290 yards. That’s one of the longest of the year.
The par 3s are tough, as three of the four measure at over 204 yards. There are two par 4s over 500 yards, with a total of five extending over 450 yards, and those five holes are five of the six most difficult on the course. Just navigate those, then clean up on the par 5s. All three par 5 generate eagles chances — No. 6 (1.7% Eagle Rate), No. 12 (2.6%), No. 18 (3.3%).
I’m not sure exactly why, maybe it’s the field strength similarities, but there was an unbelievable amount of crossover from the 2019 3M Open leaderboard and the 2021 Rocket Mortgage Classic leaderboard. It’s only one year of results, but it could be an angle to exploit. Here is this year’s stat leaderboard powered by Fantasy National for the Rocket Mortgage.
2021 3M Open Picks — Targets From Each Range
Jhonny Vegas ($7,500)
Best known for his prodigious driving, Vegas has actually started to heat up on his approaches over the past few months. He’s gained at least +2.1 SG: APP in four of his past five starts and has been rolling inconsistently on the greens but seeing some spike performances. If he gets back to his usual elite play off the tee, his length will no doubt be an asset with three gettable par 5s. That was essentially his path to back-to-back wins at Glen Abbey a few years back.
Luke List ($8,100)
Back-to-back top 10s at easy courses is enough to signal that List should prosper at TPC Twin Cities. It’s always going to come back to the same thing every week with him, can he hole enough putts to stay at the top of the leaderboard. The answer is rarely yes, but when the driving and irons are working so well, it just takes one lucky week on the greens. We just saw notoriously terrible putter Collin Morikawa not miss anything inside 15 feet on the weekend at The Open. It can happen.
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Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. (Subscribe for video or audio). Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2020 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award, and was a finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 21 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo has been recognized across multiple sports (Football, Baseball & Golf), mediums (Video, Writing & Podcasting), genre (Humor), and game formats (Daily Fantasy and Traditions Season Long). Beyond sports, Mayo covers everything from entertainment to pop culture to politics. If you have a fantasy question, general inquiry or snarky comment, ship it to Mayo at ThePatMayoExperience@gmail.com and the best will be addressed on the show.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is ThePME) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.
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