2020 3M Open golf betting preview

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This is the second running of the 3M Open, an event last season that provided some solid mid-summer drama for the PGA. TPC Twin Cities will again be the host venue, but has drawn a bit of a short stick in that pretty much all of the top players have chosen to take the week off as they prep for a big two week run ahead of this event–WGC FedEx St. Jude and the PGA Championship. 

Despite some Monday withdraws and most of the big guns heading onto Memphis early, there are still a couple top-10 players in attendance as Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson will both be teeing it up here. Brooks played here last year but only managed a T65. The big news of the week though surrounds the return of Tommy Fleetwood who had previously been MIA through six events. The Englishman is still ranked 12th in the OWGR and is planning on playing three weeks in a row starting here. 

The Memorial Roundup 

After what seemed like endless weeks of non-stop birdie-fests, we finally got a couple weeks at a true championship venue, in Muirfield Village, that culminated with the Memorial last week. The course produced a scoring average that was +2 strokes over par for the week and rated out as the second toughest course on Tour thus far. 

Jon Rahm, who was going off in many spots at +2200, was tipped in my column last week here as a great outright bet and won the event going away. Rahm put on a golfing clinic as he was great throughout the bag, gaining +15.5 strokes Tee to Green for the week and even endured a rules controversy that saw him lose two strokes after his round was done. Tony Finau looked like he was going to put up a solid fight but ended up playing his last two rounds in +8. Jason Day, who I also liked for a top-5 each-way last week, ended up with his second top-10 in a row and third on the season. 

3M Open course details

TPC Twin Cities

  • Par: 71, 7,431–Blaine, MIN
  • Greens: Bentgrass 
  • Design: Arnold Palmer and Tom Lehmen (2000)
  • Defending Event Champion: Matthew Wolff (-21) 

This will be just the second time that TPC Twin Cities has hosted a PGA event and with the course being renovated back in 2018 we don’t have much prior history, other than last year, to work from. Luckily for us, plenty of hints were dropped last season as to just what type of test this course will present on a long term basis. Matthew Wolff ended up winning the event at 21-under par but he was hardly the only person to go low. The venue produced a 69.455 scoring average from the Pros which had it ranked as the 14th-easiest on Tour in 2019. Names like Carlos Ortiz (-17, T5), Lucas Glover (-16, T7) and Sam Burns (-16, T7) all ate up this course and will be back in the field this year with Wolff. 

TPC Twin Cities sets up as a regular looking parkland course but its made much more complicated by the fact its situated around 27 water hazards. Water is in play on nearly every hole and yet the venue still has plenty of large landing areas off the tee which allowed players to take driver off many holes. Last year, the players averaged 302 yards per drive here, which is 5+ yards more than the Tour average. The field here also hit over 65% of the fairways making this appear like a bit of a bombers paradise. 

From a setup perspective, the venue plays as a classic Par 71 for the pros and will feature four Par 5’s that will all be eagle/birdie opportunities for the players this week. While each of the Par 5’s measure in at well over 550 yards, they still played as the three easiest holes on the course in 2019. The venue does feature five par 4’s that measure in over 450 yards in length as well, with the busiest approach shot distance from last year being the >200 yards range. Long approaches were thus key at TPC Twin Cities, although it should be noted that greens played fairly responsive last year so many players posted high Green in Regulation percentages. 

While wind could get up this week and possibly make scoring a bit tougher this year, expect the young aggressive players to again light up this course. Players like the aforementioned Burns and Doc Redmon should find this venue suitable as a great place to go birdie hunting and bag the first win of their career.

2020 3M Open betting discussion and picks

Last year’s leaderboard definitely gave us some clues as to what kinds of players we should expect to have success here long term. Outside of Wolff and Collin Morikawa–two younger aggressive players who have elite iron play when they are in-form–we also saw plenty of other elite iron players like Victor Hovland, Hideki Matsuyama and Adam Hadwin all finish T12 or better here last season. 

From a betting perspective, it’s also worth noting that Wolff himself went off at +10000 or greater in the betting markets last season with some other long shots, like Wyndham Clark, also factoring into the mix late. Pre-event favorites like Brooks Koepka (T65) and Patrick Reed (T23), both struggled to keep up last season. 

Jul 7, 2019; Blaine, MN, USA; Collin Morikawa reacts to nearly missing a birdie putt at the 17th hole during the final round of the 3M Championship golf tournament at TPC Twin Cities. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Top of the market

The event this week this week has lost a lot of star power. Most of the top players are resting for what will be a very hotly contested two week stretch starting in Memphis next week at the WGC FedEx St. Jude Classic. Luckily for us though, a few players have deemed this event necessary for their prep work. 

Dustin Johnson heads the list of big names getting in an extra pre-PGA Championship start here in Minnesota. It was only three weeks ago that DJ had the world on his shoulders, and posted a dominant win at the Travelers Championship. He looked completely lost though last week at the much tougher Memorial, posting back-to-back 80’s to miss the cut by a couple handful of shots. He’s the deserved favorite this week and seems more than likely to bounce back quickly on this easier setup but his odds of +1000 or greater look flimsy at best after last week. Two time defending PGA Champion Brooks Koepka is in a similar boat. While he made the weekend at Muirfield, a final round 80 and hints at a continued issue with his knee make him a pretty easy avoid at very short odds here for me. 

As we get further down the names get a little more interesting. Tony Finau put up a solid T23 at TPC Twin Cities last year and is coming off a good showing at Muirfield where he led after 36-holes. Finau lost his lunch a little on the weekend at Muirfield but looks to be rounding into form, regardless. He does win too little for me to think about the +1400 outright odds on him here though. Tommy Fleetwood likely offers a bit better value around +1600 although he’s similarly struggled to put away events on the PGA. Fleetwood’s main issue here though isn’t win-rate, it’s simply lack of play. The Englishman hasn’t played once since the restart, choosing to quarantine at home in England as the PGA resumed. There’s every possibility he parlays his freshness into something great this week but those odds don’t offer much appeal to play the guessing game with his form. 

Finally there’s Paul Casey, who will be playing in Minnesota for the first time this week. Casey’s got odds in the +2000 or better range at many sportsbooks and is coming off a strange week where he ejected himself from the event early after taking a quint-bogey on Friday. Other than the one hole though, Casey looked fine and with this being his third event back since the Covid-19 stoppage, he offers some nice appeal in this range. 

Favorite bets (each-ways and outrights)

For more info on types of golf bets available each week, be sure to check out more info here. Each way bets refer to bets that include a bet to win and a bet to place (usually to at least top-5 but sometimes are available up to top-8 or more). 

Russell Henley +3300 or better

The top of the board this week looks bleak and possibly “damaged” so rather than eat lower odds on anyone under +3000 I’d rather take a shot on the enigmatic Russell Henley. Henley was going off around +10000 or better his last time out, so these types of prices may not look like great value, but like time betting odds are often relative. In this case the field and recent form both suggest that this lower price on Henley may not even do him justice this week. 

Henley ranks fourth in SG: TTG stats in this field over the last 50 rounds, only behind names like Casey, Fleetwood and Finau. The former Georgia Bulldog has now gained +9.1 and +11 SG:TTG in his last two starts and likely would have featured late in his last outing at the Workday if not for losing strokes on the greens there. Henley’s fall from being one of the best putters on Tour has been dramatic, but even a broken clock is right once a day and it feels like he’s overdue for some kind of breakthrough with that club eventually. 

Even if he doesn’t set the world on fire on the greens this week, it’s worth noting that last year’s champion and runner-up, Matthew Wolff and Collin Morikawa, both gained under a stroke on the greens here last season and ranked just middle of the pack in SG:PUTT stats for the week. With the rest of his game sizzling and in need of FedEx Cup and OWGR points, I like targeting Henley here for a breakthrough week against a weaker field that may forgive him a mis-step or two on the greens. 

Harris English +3500 or better (each-way)

Sticking with this range, I also find a lot to like with the potential for Harris English this week. It’s been a strange fortnight for the two-time PGA winner who posted one of his best rounds of the year at the RBC Heritage (T17), then promptly discovered he had been afflicted with Covid-19 virus. While there was no official statement, English was either asymptomatic or had mild symptoms as he returned at the Memorial against another stellar field last week where he posted yet another top-20 finish. 

English has now gained +3.5 strokes or more on APP in each of his last two starts on Tour and gained strokes in every major statistical category last week at Muirfield Village. Much like last week’s winner Jon Rahm, who used a big final round at the Workday to build momentum for his win the following week, English saved his best for last at the Memorial, gaining +3.1 strokes TTG there in his final round. 

A year ago English was a player without a Tour card who had squandered two early-career wins. Now he’s ranked 26th in the FedEx Cup standings and has nine top-20 finishes on the year. While his odds have fallen drastically over last week, his form suggests he’s more than capable of breaking through here against a weaker field. 

Sam Burns +5000 or better (each-way)

Burns is coming off one of his best statistical performances of the season. The 23-year-old finished T17 at the Workday Charity Open two weeks ago, gaining a season-high +4.7 strokes on Approach at that event. While his Sunday finish at the Workday leaves a lot to be desired, it was likely asking too much of him at this point in his career to go out and compete head-to-head with the likes of Justin Thomas. This week, however, should be a different story.

Burns has done his best work in easier to manage birdie-fest types of stops, similar to what the 3M Open should provide this week. He landed a T6 earlier this season at the American Express, landed a T3 finish at the equally easy Sanderson Farms event in 2018 and was T7 at the 3M Open last year. Burns’ final round 64 here last season should be a good example of just what he can accomplish on a forgiving track like TPC Twin Cities over time. The big hitter, who is averaging 311 yards off the tee this year, gained over +5 strokes Off the Tee here last year and likely would have contended on Sunday had his irons been firing even a little better. Now in better form with those clubs, and coming off a confidence building week, I don’t think a price of +5000 or better is too short at all to take a shot with an each-way bet here. 

Patrick Rodgers +5500 or better (each-way)

While there were a lot of different names I could have added in or around this range for a final pick, I’ll stick with a player who I’m convinced will win on the PGA Tour in the near future (i.e. sometime in the next five years) in Patrick Rodgers. The former Stanford star who shot 61-62 on the weekend just under two years ago at the RSM Classic (which he’d eventually lose in a playoff) has started to flex his muscle of late elsewhere than just the greens–where he remains one of the best putters in the world. 

Rodgers has now gained +1.5 strokes or more Off the Tee in each of his last two starts and ranked 14th in that stat last week against a strong field. It’s also worth noting that while Rodgers’ Approach game has been inconsistent, he did gain over +2.2 strokes on APP in round two last week, a mark which represented his biggest one round strokes gained mark on approaches since the restart began. 

On a course with big fairways, where the winner will eventually have to find some kind of groove with their putter, I don’t mind backing Rodgers for an each-way bet off what should be a confidence building result at the Memorial. 

Matchups (72-holes)

Sam Burns -125 or better over Carlos Ortiz 

Burns is a player I’ve already written up and like for an outright this week. Ortiz likely would not have matched with Burns here this week–especially considering Burns’ recent run–but for his decent finish at this week’s event last season, when he finished T5. While Burns seems close to putting it all together for a monster week, Ortiz has really just muddled along since the restart, losing strokes off the tee in five straight starts. The former Korn Ferry Tour money winner has often had to rely on monster putting weeks just to get him through the cut of late, which really doesn’t bode well for his long term prospects. I’ll happily take this line to get Burns over him in what feels like a pretty big mis-match. 

Charley Hoffman +100 over Jhonattan Vegas 

Hoffman should set up well for this week’s test as the American has always been an aggressive player who can thrive in these types of lower scoring tests when his confidence is up. Coming off his best result of the season at the Memorial, where he landed a T7 finish off the back of a final round 67, I’d say his confidence is likely in the best place it’s been for a while now. While I don’t hate this week’s venue for Vegas either, a player who has proven with back-to-back wins at the Canadian Open that he can go low in scorefests, his form has taken a small dip of late, particularly where it matters in his iron game. At plus-money, I like Hoffman’s recent form enough to bet against the big Venezualean here. 

First-round bets

First round leader

Brandon Hagy +12500 or better (each-way)

Hagy’s a big hitter who should find the large landing pads and easy to hit fairways at TPC Twin Cities to his liking. I don’t hate him for an each-way in the outright department but he’s probably a better FRL bet. He played well his last time out in Detroit, another easier, scoring track, and has been putting very well of late, landing inside the top-15 in SG: Putting in his last two starts. One hot round with the putter is all we need here and for someone who’s been tracking so well with that club, +12500 or better makes him a great each-way target for round one. He also tees off in the early wave and should avoid the slight increase in wind speeds that could develop in the PM.

Xinjun Zhang +10000 or better (each-way)

Zhang is coming off a great week at the Memorial where he landed a T10 against one of the better fields of the year. He admittedly was riding the coattails of a hot putter last week, but gained well over a stroke OTT and on APP for the week as well. He’d previously put up some consistent results in the Fall swing and despite ranking just 123rd in the FedEx Cup standings, does rank 39th in Birdie or Better %. He’s also got an early tee time and big odds so seeing if he can ride the momentum from last week for one round won’t cost much. 

First round three-balls

Charley Hoffman +160 over Charl Schwartzel/Jhonattan Vegas 

I mentioned Hoffman above in my match-up plays, where I liked taking him over Jhonattan Vegas for the event. Well it just so happens that the two are now paired together for the first two-rounds too so we can now also pursue that bet in another market at an even better price. Hoffman is also paired with the out of form Charl Schwartzel who hasn’t broken 70 in eight straight rounds, making this price seem even better in my eyes. With the confidence Hoffman showed in his last outing, backing him at solid odds for a good start this week, against two players who haven’t been lighting the world on fire much, if at all, of late, makes sense.

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