Steve Bamford Golf Tips

Steve Bamford's 3M Open Tips 2019

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The Rocket Mortgage Classic was dominated by Nate Lashley in what was an outstanding way to win his first PGA Tour title. A late Wednesday entry to the field after David Berganio Jnr withdrew, if you managed to get on board then congratulations! I managed to get a part 33/1 each-way return on Donald Ross course connoisseur Brandt Snedeker, who shot a field best -12 across the weekend.

On to this week and another brand new tournament for the PGA Tour, the 3M Open, played at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine, Minnesota. 3M are based in Minneapolis and have sponsored a PGA Tour Champions Tour event in the area since 2001. With the PGA Tour wanting to create this Midwest swing that we find ourselves in as part of the new shortened schedule, 3M stepped up to the mark, parting with the circa $16 million required to sponsor a PGA Tour event. TPC Twin Cities will be a new venue to the vast majority of the field and to most of us as punters, and to add to the intrigue the course has received a huge renovation to bring it up to PGA Tour standard.

The field for this time of the season, pre-Open Championship and with the Irish and Scottish Opens pulling many players from the United States to Europe, is reasonable enough with Brooks Koepka, Jason Day, Hideki Matsuyama, Bryson DeChambeau, Tony Finau, Patrick Reed and Phil Mickelson highlighting.

Before we talk 3M Open, the number of new visitors to Golf Betting System is increasing by the week. Welcome to all new readers, listeners and viewers and let me point you in the direction of our weekly Golf Betting System podcast (published Tuesday) our Golf Betting Show on YouTube and our hugely popular private group on Facebook – you can Join Here.

3M Open – Featured Bookmaker: betfair

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Course Guide: The 3M Championship has been an established tournament on the PGA Champions Tour going back to 1993. Played in the northern suburbs of Minneapolis at TPC Twin Cities, this was always a tournament which produced very low scores. A 7,114 yard Par 72 was the format for the Seniors and winning scores of -19/197 (2016 – Joe Durant), -20/196 (2017 – Paul Goydos) and -21/195 (2018 – Kenny Perry) show that this course was very much there for the taking.

After Kenny Perry lifted the trophy last August, a Tom Lehman and Tim Herron-led course renovation started on this original Arnold Palmer design, with the focus of adding distance. However you can’t see the addition of around 350 yards tapering the scoring too much, especially as the PGA Tour have a pro-active policy of ensuring that new courses don’t provide too much resistance on their Tour debuts.

TPC Twin Cities, Blaine, Minnesota: Designer: Arnold Palmer, 2000 with Herron and Lehman renovation, 2018; Course Type: Resort; Par: 71; Length: 7,468 yards; Water Hazards: 27; Fairways: Bentgrass; Rough: Bluegrass with fescue 2.5″; Greens: 5,500 sq.ft average featuring Bentgrass; Tournament Stimp: 12ft. Course Scoring Average 2016: 69.92 (-2.08), Champions Tour Difficulty Rank 25 of 26 courses. 2017: 69.28 (-2.72), Champions Tour Difficulty Rank 24 of 26. 2018: 70.92 (-1.08), Champions Tour Difficulty Rank 18 of 26 courses.

Course Designer Links: For research purposes other Arnold Palmer designs include:

  • PGA West – Palmer Private – Host Course 2008 through 2015 Career Builder Challenge
  • Bay Hill Country Club – Arnold Palmer Invitational
  • TPC Boston – Dell Technologies Championship
  • Isleworth Golf & Country Club – 2014 Hero World Challenge
  • Albany – 2015 – 2018 Hero World Challenge
  • TPC Boston – Dell Technologies Championship

Course Overview: TPC Twin Cities is part of the Tournament Players Club group of courses owned by the PGA Tour. Apart from the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, which is the PGA Tour’s Number 1 tournament, TPC Designs tend to be quite standard and gettable. Naturally built and operated in the main for amateur players who want to be able to play courses they see the top professionals play on TV, they tend to be resort like in general, so don’t think we’re in for an onerous test this week, despite course strengthening taking place over the autumn.

An original Arnold Palmer design, the course post-Herron/Lehman renovation will play as a 7,468 yard Par 71. Not short, the 3 par-5s are 594 yards (6th), 593 yards (12th) and 596 yards (18th) in length and are undoubtedly reachable to the power hitters. With 11 par-4s on the card this week, 9 of them are sub-470 yards and 6 of those are sub-430 yards, so a decent drive and a flick with a wedge for the vast majority in the field. The 4 par-3s look sterner, with 3 of them at over 200 yards.

The course looks wide from the tee, although renovation work has looked at thinning some fairways and placement of strategic bunkering to stiffen the test. Fairways in the main are tree-lined, but this is no classical layout. In fact the course sees water used as a defence on a majority of holes, giving the course almost a Florida-type look to it. The renovation itself included modifications to a majority of the holes by adding additional tee boxes, narrowing fairways by removing fairway sod and immediately replacing it with alternate sod to establish ‘rough’ areas, installation of approximately 100 mature trees, wetland restoration at two ponds plus excavation and expansion of the pond on the closing par-5 18th hole.

A couple of player comments from the 3M Championship make interesting reading:

Peter Lonard: “The course is fantastic, course is really good, you know. It has a bit of bounce, fairways pretty wide, approaches to the greens are probably the most important around here. If you can hit them on the fairways, you’ve got a lot of opportunities.”

Tom Lehman: “I think it’s up to us to make the course a fair test. I think it’s still going to be low scores. I don’t know that — exactly what that many mean, but the way the young guys play, the aggressive style they play with, there’s always somebody every week that is driving it great and putting it great and they’re hitting it 340 and there’s no defence for that out here no matter what you do, as there are at a lot of courses. The modern game is a different game. So I think it’s our goal to punish bad shots and to reward good shots. Really a fair test of narrow fairways, thicker rough, make guys hit it straight and if you do there will be some low scores.”

I’ll add a couple of other facts that have peaked my interest this week. The course features pure Bentgrass green complexes, something we’ve amazingly only seen at Augusta National and Colonial in 2019 on the PGA Tour. And at 900 feet in altitude, the ball will fly a little further than the professionals are used to. With the calculations required, this is something that some players can work through with no issues, but undoubtedly some struggle with the mathematics or trusting it. I’m expecting low scores again this week on a purer resort course than we saw in Detroit last week.

Tournament Stats: We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s event that are well worth a look. Naturally they’ll help to shape a view on players who could go well this week: Current Form

Published Predictor Model: Our published predictor is available here. You can build your own model using the variables listed on the left hand side. Top 10 of my published predictor are Jason Day, Brooks Koepka, Hideki Matsuyama, Bryson DeChambeau, Wyndham Clark, Patrick Reed, Phil Mickelson, Si Woo Kim, Ryan Moore, and Sungjae Im.

Recent Player Skill Rankings: These top 20 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the HP Byron Nelson and Betfred British Masters, which includes PGA Tour and European Tour events. Players must have played in a minimum of 2 Tour events to be included and rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Top 20 Driving Accuracy: 1) Ryan Armour / Andrew Landry; 3) Bill Haas / Scott Langley; 5) Austin Cook; 6) Tyler Duncan; 7) Derek Fathauer / Viktor Hovland / Ryan Moore; 10) Colt Knost / Michael Thompson; 12) Brice Garnett; 13) Jason Dufner / Collin Morikawa; 15) Adam Hadwin / Adam Long; 17) Corey Conners / Nicholas Lindheim / Adam Svensson; 20) Alex Cejka.
  • Top 20 Greens in Regulation: 1) Cameron Tringale; 2) Corey Conners; 3) Adam Svensson; 4) Jason Dufner / Hunter Mahan; 6) Kevin Streelman; 7) Brice Garnett; 8) Tyler Duncan / Kyle Stanley; 10) Charley Hoffman; 11) Brooks Koepka; 12) Sung Kang / Sepp Straka; 14) Nick Watney; 15) Joaquin Niemann; 16) Josh Teater; 17) Hideki Matsuyama / Kevin Na; 19) Viktor Hovland; 20) Jason Day.
  • Top 20 Putting Average (Putts per GIR): 1) Danny Lee; 2) Wyndham Clark; 3) Brady Schnell; 4) Hideki Matsuyama; 5) Ryan Moore; 6) Beau Hossler; 7) Adam Hadwin /  Collin Morikawa; 9) Nicholas Lindheim; 10) Dominic Bozzelli; 11) Morgan Hoffmann; 12) Denny McCarthy; 13) Bryson DeChambeau / Rory Sabbatini; 15) Scott Langley; 16) Patrick Reed; 17) Cameron Tringale; 18) Roger Sloan; 19) Viktor Hovland; 20) Tyler Duncan / Peter Uihlein.

Weather Forecast: The latest weather forecast for Blaine, Minneapolis, is here. In Detroit last week we saw quite firm fairway conditions, low rough and constantly watered greens, adding up to a true birdie-fest. Further north in Minneapolis though, the area has seen plenty of precipitation over recent months, weeks and days. 402mm of rain has fallen since the start of April. 51mm of that was last week, Sunday was wet and even as I write this on Monday, it’s still raining. With more rain a 50% chance across the whole of tournament week, I’d be very surprised if we don’t see soft fairways and receptive greens for at least the first 36 holes, and knowing the PGA Tour they won’t let the greens firm-up at all as the players visit TPC Twin Cities for the first time. With no significant wind in the forecast and pleasant temperatures the norm this week, I expect strong scoring once again.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of the last 4 winners here at TPC Twin Cities gives us a little more insight into the potential requirements for this test:

  • Kenny Perry (-21). 303 yards (6th), 90.5% fairways (8th), 81.5% greens in regulation (15th),  80.0 % scrambling (2nd), 1.59 putts per GIR (3rd).
  • Paul Goydos (-20). 272 yards (53rd), 90.5% fairways (14th), 72.2% greens in regulation (63rd), 93.3 % scrambling (3rd), 1.51 putts per GIR (2nd).
  • Joe Durant (-19). 266 yards (46th), 97.6% fairways (1st), 90.7% greens in regulation (2nd), 80.0 % scrambling (6th), 1.63 putts per GIR (4th).
  • Kenny Perry (-25). 280 yards (2nd), 76.2% fairways (67th), 88.9% greens in regulation (1st), 33.3% scrambling (73rd), 1.58 putts per GIR (2nd).

Tournament Skill Averages:

  • Driving Distance: 27th, Driving Accuracy: 23rd, Greens in Regulation: 20th, Scrambling: 21st, Putting Average 3rd.

For the record, here’s the breakdown of pure Bentgrass PGA Tour victors in the field since 2008:

  • 4 – Jason Day.
  • 3 – Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson, Ryan Moore, Kevin Na.
  • 2 – Keegan Bradley, Jason Dufner, Lucas Glover,  Brian Harman, Hideki Matsuyama, Troy Merritt.
  • 1 – Sangmoon Bae, Jonas Blixt, Bill Haas, Charley Hoffman, Freddie Jacobson, Smylie Kaufman, Michael Kim, Martin Laird, Danny Lee, Hunter Mahan, Rod Pampling, Ted Potter Jnr, Patrick Reed, Rory Sabbatini, Kyle Stanley, Scott Stallings, Kevin Streelman, Nick Watney.

For the second week running we have pretty much a blank sheet of paper on the PGA Tour. 2 weeks out from the Open Championship over the past 3 years has seen wins for Danny Lee (150/1), Xander Schauffele (66/1) and Kevin Na (45/1) at the Greenbrier Classic. But the Greenbrier was always a particularly weak field and 2019 sees the likes of Brooks Koepka, Jason Day, Hideki Matsuyama, Bryson DeChambeau, Tony Finau, Patrick Reed, Phil Mickelson and the very in-form Keegan Bradley and Rory Sabbatini in Minnesota. I would argue that the depth of field is slightly better than last week in Detroit, and from previous tournaments held here on the Champions Tour we see that TPC Twin Cities is essentially a resort golf course.

My selections are as follows:

Bryson DeChambeau 2.5pts EW 16/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Coral

The guy I’ve had in mind for this for a couple of weeks is Bryson DeChambeau who seems to be improving from his mid-2019 slump. Gaining significant strokes on approach over his past 2 outings at the U.S. Open and the Travelers Championship, form of 22 (Memorial), 35 (US Open), 8 (Travelers) has followed on from 3 straight missed cuts. 15th for SG Tee to Green last time at TPC River Highlands was his best performance since Riviera in February and the flat stick has been working well for a number of outings across Muirfield Village (9th SG Putting), Pebble Beach (12th SGP) and TPC River Highlands (21st SGP) and in my mind he has the perfect game for a relatively straightforward challenge like TPC Twin Cities.

Long and straight off the tee – 4th for Total Driving and 23rd for SG Off the Tee – Bryson is the sort who can surgically manage his way around a course when his ball-striking is at his best. The fact that 3 of his 5 PGA Tour wins have come on other TPC Network courses adds a little fuel to the fire. 3 of his wins have also come at -18/266 (2017 Deere Run), -18/266 (2018 Northern Trust) and -21/263 (2018 Shriners Open).

But his case is all the more stronger this week for his amazing form in the Midwest. We all know that DeChambeau was a top-level amateur operator and in 2014 he won the Erin Hills Intercollegiate on the course that hosted the 2016 U.S. Open in Wisconsin. 2015 also saw Bryson win the coveted U.S Amateur crown at Olympia Fields, in Chicago, Illinois. Once he turned pro in 2016, Bryson won his first title on the web.com Tour (DAP Championship) at Canterbury Golf Club in Breachwood, Ohio. Then his first 2 PGA Tour wins came in the Midwest at Deere Run (2017) and Muirfield Village (2018) respectively. He’ll also appreciate the change to pure Bentgrass greens this week, with 3 of his main Tour wins having come on similar surfaces. Result: T2

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Kevin Na 1.5pts EW 40/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Coral

I’m also thinking that Kevin Na could well like TPC Twin Cities this week. The upwardly mobile World Number 32 is playing some great stuff of late and he tends to come to the fore on Par 70/71s. On the anniversary of his Greenbrier Classic win 12 months ago, Na will have no added ‘defending champion pressure’ this week and that makes him a danger as he’s playing some very nice golf.

A Quarter-Finalist at the WGC Dell Matchplay, 10th at the RBC Heritage, 1st at the Charles Schwab Challenge and 6th at the Korea Open, his next target could well be representing the United States at the 2019 Presidents Cup and to achieve that goal, Kevin needs to keep producing through till the close of the season. All of Kevin’s 3 PGA Tour wins have come on pure Bentgrass and if we’re looking for a player who can hit plenty of greens and putt well to produce a barrage of birdies this week, I think he could deliver.

Kenny Perry is a 3-time winner here and although the course has changed, I still think his career footprint is relevant: A winner at TPC Scottsdale (2009), Bay Hill (2005), Colonial (2003 & 2005), Muirfield Village (2009), TPC River Highlands (2009) and TPC Deere Run (2008), Na’s own record on these tracks is pretty impressive. His record in the desert, at altitude (Blaine will be slightly altitude-affected at 900 ft above sea level) and in low-scoring events in general make him a must-back this week. Result: WD

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Mackenzie Hughes 1pt EW 125/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Betfair

I’ve placed a single note on my research sheet for Mackenzie Hughes and it reads ‘playing lovely golf’. Not the most detailed of comments but it’s 100% true and if we’re to have another relatively unfancied winner this week, the Canadian could be the man for us. 191st in the OWGR (he’s gained almost 200 spots since the start of the year), the Charlotte, North Carolina resident sits 87th in the FedEx Cup rankings so has no pressure in terms of keeping his playing privileges. 13th at Copperhead, 2nd at Corales, 8th at Colonial, 14th at his home Open at Hamilton G&CC and 21st last week in Detroit, Mackenzie has been quietly impressive.

The 2016 RSM Classic winner as a rookie from absolutely nowhere, Mackenzie’s 2017 included outings at the winners event at Kapalua, the WGC-Mexico Championship, The Masters and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, before finishing 13th at TPC Boston and making it to the BMW Championship in the FedEx Cup Playoffs – all in his rookie season!  With a 2 year PGA Tour exemption under his wing, season 2017/18 was a complete disaster until a July run where he finished 13th at the Greenbrier, 16th at the John Deere Classic and 8th at his home RBC Canadian Open hosted at Glen Abbey. For me he’s far better at events where scoring is approaching the upper-teens under par and I think the wide fairways will allow him to really let go with the driver this week – he’s got pop averaging 296 yards off the tee. 8th for SG Tee to Green in Canada and 16th last week in Detroit, the putter has fired well at Colonial (16th SG Putting) and TPC River Highlands (18th SG Putting). Marry these constituents on a course which I think will suit and Hughes can go close. Result: T66

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 18:25BST 01.07.19 but naturally subject to fluctuation.