(CBS Local/CBS Minnesota)- The PGA Tour’s Midwest swing continues this week as Minnesota hosts its first tour event in half a century when the 3M Open gets underway on July 4th at TPC Twin Cities. After a memorable weekend in Detroit last week, the world’s best golfers make the trip to Blaine, Minnesota where a newly upgraded course awaits.
The last time the state of Minnesota held a regularly scheduled PGA Tour event was in 1969 when the Minnesota Golf Classic was played for the final time. Now, TPC Twin Cities transforms from a Champions Tour venue into a 7,468-yard par-71 course ready to challenge the field of 156 players over four days this weekend.
The Arnold Palmer designed course features 27 water hazards laid out throughout the property along with 74 bunkers that players will have to navigate in order to shoot the low scores many are expecting. The lack of trees along the course means that wind could play a factor if it picks up during the tournament, but for the moment, the forecast remains clear.
While the course is expected to allow golfers to reach some low numbers on the weekend, there are several holes that will make life difficult on even the best among them. The par-5 5th now stretches out to over 600 yards making even the longest of hitters contemplate whether getting to the green in two is possible. The same goes for the par-5 18th, which is just shy of the 600 yard mark at 597 and features a dogleg right, plus an extended lake that players will have to hit over in order to reach the green in two. The par-3 17th will play 229 yards this week and all of that length is over water which can always make for unpredictable outcomes.
All that said, tournament founder Hollis Cavner is perfectly okay with the course’s reputation for allowing low scores telling the St. Paul Pioneer Press, “We want birdies and train wrecks, and we don’t want to be the hardest golf course on the tour.”
CBS Sports golf announcer Andrew Catalon will be on the call this weekend and he agrees with Cavner’s mindset arguing that low scores is what the fans really want to see anyway.
“The fairways are going to be a little more narrow, the rough is going to be a little bit higher. It’s not going to look like the course that the Champions Tour played,” said Catalon via phone interview Monday. “But that said, I think there are going to be a lot of opportunities here for guys to go low and I think that is what golf fans want to see. They don’t want to see five over. They want to see five or ten under and I think that’s what we’re going to see, a lot of low scores this week.”
With TPC Twin Cities being a new course on the tour, Catalon does think that some of the players who played in last week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit may have a slight advantage entering the weekend simply in terms of having recent experience in navigating a new course. However, heading into the event, he has his eyes on two golfers in particular: Phil Mickelson and Brooks Koepka.
Mickelson was one of the first golfers to commit to playing in the 3M Open a few months ago and Catalon believes that will have the crowds in Minnesota fully behind Lefty this weekend.
“Not that Phil needed any more endearing to the fans, but I think that knowing that he was all-in on this event so early is really going to make him even more of a fan favorite this week,” said Catalon. “I’m curious to see how he does.”
As for Koepka, the PGA Championship winner said after playing in the Traveler’s Championship two weeks ago that he was feeling a bit tired and worn down by the schedule. After a week off last week, it will be interesting to see how he looks with the season’s final major, The Open Championship, just two weeks away.
Aside from being the first Minnesota Tour event in five decades, this tournament is also the first for Catalon in the tower on the 18th hole as he will anchor CBS’ coverage on Saturday and Sunday along with Sir Nick Faldo.
“It’s really an honor to join this incredible team. To me, they are the best at what they do. Golf on CBS is such an incredible tradition. My job is just to keep the ball rolling. They all know what they’re doing so well and I’m just going to do my best. I have been preparing hard for this assignment. I can’t wait to get to Minnesota and I’m looking forward to a great week.”
The 3M Open gets underway on Thursday, July 4th with CBS coverage of the event beginning on Saturday at 3 p.m. Eastern Time.
Brooks Koepka 15-2
Jason Day 9-1
Hideki Matsuyama 10-1
Bryson DeChambeau 14-1
Tony Finau 28-1