Steve Bamford

Steve Bamford's 3M Open Tips 2020

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Congratulations to you if you were on Jon Rahm at 22/1 last week. Rahm has always been a special talent and his win at Memorial was his 4th on the PGA Tour in 4 consecutive years and his 10th worldwide victory in 36 months. The freshly crowned World Number 1, ‘Rahmbo’ is only the second Spaniard to reach the summit of world golf, after of course Seve Ballesteros.

Before we talk the 3M Open, the number of new visitors to Golf Betting System is sure to be strong, with new readers and those new to golf betting full-stop.  Welcome to you all and let me point you in the direction of our weekly Golf Betting System podcast (published Tuesday) the Golf Betting Show on YouTube and our hugely popular private group on Facebook – you can Join Here.

On to this week then and the second instalment of 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. 3M have certainly stepped up to the mark, parting with the circa $16 million required to sponsor a PGA Tour event. But players undoubtedly need breaks in their schedules and with 2 consecutive tournaments at Muirfield Village prior to the 3M Open and both the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational and PGA Championship post this week’s action, field quality is way down on what we have been seeing.

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Course Guide: The 3M Championship had been an established tournament on the PGA Champions Tour going back to 1993, before it was promoted to the PGA Tour in 2019. Played in the northern suburbs of Minneapolis at TPC Twin Cities, this was always a tournament that 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 in August 2018, a Tom Lehman and Tim Herron-led course renovation started on this original Arnold Palmer design, with the focus of adding distance, which they achieved by adding 350 yards. However on its PGA Tour debut last year, Matthew Wolff captured his first PGA Tour title in only his 4th appearance with a -21/263 total, highlighting that eagles and birdies were the currency required.

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: 14 Holes; Fairways: Bentgrass; Rough: Bluegrass with fescue 3″; Greens: 6,500 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. 2019: 69.46 (-2.54), PGA Tour Difficulty Rank 36 of 49 courses.

Widths Fairway Widths (yards): Below are the fairway widths for TPC Twin Cities and how they compare to recent courses on Tour:

  • TPC Twin Cities: 250 yards from the tee: 38 yards wide; 275:38; 300:31; 325:30; 350:36.
  • Muirfield Village: 250 yards from the tee: 34 yards wide; 275:33; 300:29; 325:24; 350:29.
  • Detroit Golf Club: 250 yards from tee: 34 yards wide; 275:34; 300:35 325:34; 350:33.
  • TPC River Highlands: 250 yards from the tee: 38 yards wide; 275:36; 300:29; 325:29; 350:28.
  • Harbour Town: 250 yards from tee: 29 yards wide; 275:26; 300:22; 325:26; 350:22.
  • Colonial: 250 yards from tee: 27 yards wide; 275:26; 300:27; 325:26; 350:23.
  • TPC Sawgrass: 250 yards from the tee: 31 yards wide; 275:32; 300:30; 325:28 350:20.
  • Bay Hill: 250 yards from the tee: 32 yards wide; 275:33; 300:33; 325:39 350:29.
  • PGA National: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:27; 300:25; 325:27 350:25.
  • Riviera: 250 yards from the tee: 33 yards wide; 275:27; 300:26; 325:26 350:28.
  • Pebble Beach: 250 yards from the tee: 33 yards wide; 275:33; 300:29; 325:30 350:26.
  • TPC Scottsdale: 250 yards from the tee: 33 yards wide; 275:30; 300:28; 325:27; 350:27.

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 naturally is the PGA Tour’s Number 1 tournament, TPC Designs tend to be quite standard and gettable. 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, the course set-ups tend to be resort-like in general.

And so it proved last year. Despite course strengthening, TPC Twin Cities proved to be a total birdie-fest on its inaugural outing. The course is wide from the tee and despite fairways being tree-lined, this is no classical layout. In fact the course sees water used as a defence on a majority of holes, giving the track almost a Florida-type look to it. I’ll add a couple of other facts. The course features pure Bentgrass green complexes, something we’ve only seen at Colonial Country Club so far in 2020, and at 900 feet of altitude, the ball flies 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.

An original Arnold Palmer design, the course post-Herron/Lehman renovation now plays as a 7,468 yard Par 71, which with thinner air is short enough to take apart. Green complexes at an average 6,500 square feet are also large, especially when compared to recent Tour stop-offs. 2019 saw this course rank in the top 11 for Driving Distance, top 15 for Fairways Hit and ominously top 8 for Greens in Regulation. With 3 par-5s measuring 594 yards (6th), 593 yards (12th) and 596 yards (18th) in length, the longest holes on the course showed some resistance here 12 months ago, but both sets of par-3s and par-4s were in the top-10 easiest on Tour.

But any golf course plays as easy as conditions allow and 2020 looks to be a step up from the first renewal here. 2019 saw light winds as a feature and Matthew Wolff produced a -21/263 winning total. But with higher wind forecast across Friday and Saturday, I could see slightly higher scoring this time around, especially with plenty of water significantly in play on this golf course. Don’t get me wrong, this will be no Memorial Tournament, but I’m expecting circa -16/-17 winning this week.

3m open tips

Winners: 2019: Matthew Wolff (-21).

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 | First Round Leader | Combined Stats.

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 Dustin Johnson, Russell Henley, Tony Finau, Brooks Koepka, Luke List, Paul Casey, Bubba Watson, Harris English, Ben Martin and Charley Hoffman.

Recent Player Skill Rankings: These rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Qatar Open, which includes PGA Tour and European Tour (where recorded) 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:

  • Driving Accuracy: 1) Michael Gligic; 2) Bo Van Pelt; 3) Ryan Moore / Henrik Norlander; 5) Michael Thompson; 6) David Hearn; 7) Tim Wilkinson; 8) Paul Casey; 9) Jason Dufner; 10) Austin Cook; 11) Russell Henley / Adam Schenk; 13) Scott Brown; 14) Scott Piercy / Vaughn Taylor; 16) Ryan Armour / Chesson Hadley / Rob Oppenheim; 19) Kyle Stanley; 20) Kramer Hickok.
  • Greens in Regulation: 1) Michael Gligic / Chase Seiffert; 3) Doc Redman; 4) Brice Garnett / Lucas Glover / Kyle Stanley; 7) Joseph Bramlett; 8) Paul Casey / Will Gordon / Henrik Norlander; 11) Ryan Moore; 12) Jason Dufner / Aaron Wise; 14) Brooks Koepka; 15) Emiliano Grillo; 16) Tom Lewis / Pat Perez; 18) Harris English / Bubba Watson; 20) Russell Henley.
  • Scrambling: 1) Jonathan Byrd; 2) Harris English; 3) Brendon Todd; 4) Hudson Swafford; 5) Adam Long; 6) John Senden; 7) Bernd Wiesberger; 8) Henrik Norlander; 9) Luke List; 10) Michael Gligic / Brian Harman; 12) Sepp Straka; 13) Roger Sloan / Michael Thompson; 14) Si Woo Kim / Chris Kirk / Dustin Johnson; 17) Branden Grace / Michael Kim; 19) Max Homa; 20) Jason Dufner.
  • Putting Average (Putts per GIR): 1) Peter Uihlein; 2) Brooks Koepka; 3) Charley Hoffman; 4) J.J. Spaun / Chris Stroud; 6) Tom Lewis; 7) Danny Lee; 8) Will Gordon; 9) Austin Cook / Harris English; 11) Talor Gooch; 12) Aaron Baddeley; 13) Ryan Armour / Carlos Ortiz / Jhonattan Vegas; 16) Scott Harrington / Patrick Rodgers / Matthew Wolff; 19) Fabian Gomez; 20) Lucas Glover / Keith Mitchell / Richy Werenski.

Recent Player Strokes Gained Rankings: These top 25 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Qatar Open, which includes both PGA and European Tour events where recorded. 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 SG Off The Tee: 1) Joseph Bramlett / Tom Lewis; 3) Adam Schenk; 4) Will Gordon / Bubba Watson; 6) Dustin Johnson; 7) Jhonattan Vegas; 8) Ryan Moore; 9) Paul Casey; 10) Tony Finau; 11) Scott Piercy; 12) Michael Gligic; 13) Lucas Glover; 14) Brooks Koepka / Luke List / Robert Streb; 17) Sam Burns / Russell Henley; 19) Scott Harrington; 20) Brice Garnett / Erik van Rooyen; 22) Peter Kuest / Josh Teater / Xin-Jun Zhang; 25) Scott Brown.
  • Top 20 SG Approach: 1) Lucas Glover; 2) Doc Redman; 3) Seung-yul Noh; 4) Chase Seiffert; 5) Paul Casey / Harris English; 7) Russell Henley / Henrik Norlander; 9) Charley Hoffman; 10) Cameron Percy; 11) Chesson Hadley; 12) Michael Gligic / Tom Hoge; 14) Scott Stallings; 15) Brice Garnett / Emiliano Grillo / Pat Perez; 18) Matthew Wolff; 19) Tony Finau; 20) Adam Long; 21) Jason Dufner; 22) Doug Ghim; 23) Branden Grace / K.H. Lee; 25) Will Gordon / Max Homa / Si Woo Kim / Danny Lee / Matthew NeSmith / Charl Schwartzel / Aaron Wise / Richy Werenski.
  • Top 20 SG Around The Green: 1) Jonathan Byrd; 2) Luke Donald / Brian Harman; 4) Chris Kirk; 5) Chase Seiffert / Hudson Swafford; 7) Harris English; 8) Charles Howell III; 9) Tim Wilkinson; 10) Scott Brown / Josh Teater; 12) Seung-yul Noh; 13) Tommy Fleetwood / Michael Kim; 15) Peter Kuest / Erik van Rooyen; 17) Will Gordon / Si Woo Kim; 19) Kyle Stanley; 20) Patton Kizzire; 21) J.J. Spaun; 22) Dylan Frittelli / Jamie Lovemark / Alex Noren; 25) Luke List / Rob Oppenheim.
  • Top 20 SG Tee to Green: 1) Lucas Glover; 2) Harris English; 3) Will Gordon; 4) Tony Finau / Chase Seiffert; 6) Michael Gligic / Henrik Norlander; 8) Doc Redman; 9) Brian Harman; 10) Dustin Johnson / Luke List; 12) Jonathan Byrd / Josh Teater; 14) Chris Kirk / Tim Wilkinson; 16) Richy Werenski; 17) Bubba Watson; 18) Jason Dufner / Russell Henley / Hudson Swafford / Erik van Rooyen; 22) Paul Casey / Dylan Frittelli / Aaron Wise; 25) Sam Burns / Scott Brown / Charley Hoffman / Tom Lewis / Kyle Stanley / Jhonattan Vegas.
  • Top 20 SG Putting: 1) Harris English; 2) Peter Uihlein; 3) Denny McCarthy / Andrew Putnam; 5) Michael Thompson; 6) Austin Cook; 7) Brooks Koepka; 8) Adam Long / Chris Stroud; 10) Sepp Straka; 11) Greg Chalmers / John Senden; 13) Keith Mitchell / Matthew Wolff; 15) Troy Merritt; 16) Charley Hoffman; 17) Patrick Rodgers; 18) Chase Seiffert; 19) Ryan Armour / Jonathan Byrd / J.J. Henry / Charles Howell III; 23) Scott Harrington; 24) Jhonattan Vegas; 25) Carlos Ortiz.
  • Top 20 SG Total: 1) Harris English; 2) Lucas Glover; 3) Henrik Norlander; 4) Tom Lewis / Chase Seiffert; 6) Charley Hoffman; 7) Brooks Koepka; 8) Jonathan Byrd; 9) Will Gordon; 10) Richy Werenski; 11) Sam Burns / Adam Long / Jhonattan Vegas; 14) Patrick Rodgers / Hudson Swafford / Sepp Straka; 17) Tony Finau / Russell Henley / Pat Perez / Peter Uihlein; 21) Matthew Wolff; 22) Dustin Johnson / Doc Redman / Kyle Stanley; 25) Branden Grace / Max Homa / Michael Thompson.

Winners & Prices: 2019: Wolff 175/1.

Historical Weather:

  • 2019: Thursday: Mostly cloudy. High of 85. Wind SW 6-12 mph. First round was suspended for 36 minutes from 1:10 p.m. until 1:46 p.m. due to lightning in the area. Friday: Mostly cloudy. High of 81. Wind NNE 8-12 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy. High of 80. Wind NE 6-12 mph. Sunday: Partly cloudy. High of 80. Wind ESE 5-10 mph.

Weather Forecast: The latest weather forecast for Blaine, Minneapolis, is here. Early summer here in Minnesota has been quite dry. But 21mm of rain fell on the golf course last week and tournament Tuesday morning could see some significant water dropped on the course. I expect it needs it. But the tournament weather forecast looks dry, but significantly I think we will see more wind across Friday and Saturday than we did 12 months ago. Winds gusting 20mph will keep a lid on scoring just a little in my opinion, although this will be no Open Championship with 30-34 degrees Celsius forecast across Friday to Sunday.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of the top 3 here at TPC Twin Cities in 2019 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this:

  • 1st, Matthew Wolff (-21). 304 yards (36th), 67.9% fairways (31st), 83.3% greens in regulation (6th), 28’5″ proximity to hole (11th), 50.0% scrambling (62nd), 1.63 putts per GIR (6th).
  • 2nd, Bryson DeChambeau (-20). 313 yards (11th), 69.6% fairways (22nd), 76.4% greens in regulation (36th), 29’7″ proximity to hole (17th), 82.4% scrambling (2nd), 1.62 putts per GIR (3rd).
  • 2nd, Collin Morikawa (-20). 310 yards (19th), 67.9% fairways (31st), 83.3% greens in regulation (6th), 28’3″ proximity to hole (10th), 66.7 % scrambling (25th), 1.67 putts per GIR (14th).

Tournament Skill Average:

  • Driving Distance: 22nd, Driving Accuracy: 28th, Greens in Regulation: 16th, Proximity to Hole: 13th, Scrambling: 30th, Putting Average 8th.

Strokes Gained Tournament Trends:

  • 1st, Matthew Wolff (-21). SG Off the Tee: 21st, SG Approach: 2nd, SG Around the Green: 18th, SG Tee to Green: 1st, SG Putting: 39th.
  • 2nd, Bryson DeChambeau (-20). SG Off the Tee: 7th, SG Approach: 18th, SG Around the Green: 44th, SG Tee to Green: 15th, SG Putting: 11th.
  • 2nd, Collin Morikawa (-20). SG Off the Tee: 10th, SG Approach: 1st, SG Around the Green: 59th, SG Tee to Green: 2nd, SG Putting: 47th.

Strokes Gained Tournament Skill Averages:

  • SG Off the Tee: 13th, SG Approach: 3rd, SG Around the Green: 40th, SG Tee to Green: 6th, SG Putting: 32nd.

Let’s take a view from players as to how TPC Twin Cities sets up and what skill sets the course favours:

Matthew Wolff (2019): This course is gettable, especially with the rain, it’s been softer. I feel like it’s a course that really suits me well, a lot of drivers. Hitting the fairway obviously sets you up in good position to hit a lot of wedges in there, and I think that’s the biggest thing today is I was really dialled in with my wedges, got the distances really spot on.”

Bryson DeChambeau (2019): Both 18 and 9 are difficult holes. They’re very difficult holes. Look, if you hit in the fairway on 18, it’s a pretty simple hole. If you hit it in the rough, it’s a tough layup and you’ve got to wedge it close to try to make birdie. You’re giving up a shot. No. 9, it’s also a very difficult hole. You’ve got to hit a good drive. If the pin’s over there on the right on nine again, you’re going to have to think about it. It’s a very difficult hole. Just make sure you’re in the fairway, so they’re both difficult.

For sure, I think that there’s a lot of water and a lot of tedious tee shots out here and that’s a pretty good defence. The pins were tucked a couple times today and people are going to make mistakes. Piercy shooting 9 under yesterday just kind of opened the floodgates a little bit, just going, okay, we can do it out here.”

Collin Morikawa (2019): “I think my ball-striking’s kept me in this week and finally was able to make some putts. Yeah, no, I like this course, it fits my eye a lot, it fits my eye off the tee, which is really comfortable and I think that’s the most part. You’ve got to see it from the tee and see it all the way from the last shot that’s going to drop. It’s pretty much stress-free today other than the three-putt. Just hit my lines, hit a lot of good shots and played to my strengths. Ball-striking has been my strength ever since I’ve been a little kid and kept up on that.

Path to Victory: Below are the end of round positions for the 3M Open winners:

  • 2019 – Matthew Wolff: Round 1: 49th, Round 2: 35th, Round 3: 1st.

Shots From the Lead: Below are the 3M Open winners and where they were positioned in terms of shots from the lead during the tournament:

  • 2019 – Matthew Wolff: Round 1: 7 back, Round 2: 8 back, Round 3: level.

Incoming form of winners since 2010:

  • Matthew Wolff: MC Rocket Mortgage/MC Travelers/50th TPC Scottsdale.

First Round Leader Analysis: First round leader(s), their wave and winning score since 2010. Full First Round Leader stats are here.

  • 2019 – Piercy  – PM -9/62 – 66/1.

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

  • 4 – Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson.
  • 3 – Brooks Koepka, Ryan Moore.
  • 2 – Stewart Cink, Jason Dufner, Lucas Glover, Brian Harman, Chris Kirk, Troy Merritt,  Jhonattan Vegas.
  • 1 – Arjun Atwal, Jonathan Byrd, Luke Donald, Dylan Frittelli, Bill Haas, Charley Hoffman, Russell Knox, Michael Kim, Danny Lee, Ted Potter Jnr, Charl Schwartzel, Scott Stallings, Kyle Stanley, Brendon Todd, Nick Watney, Matthew Wolff.

Naturally we have only seen a single renewal here to fall back on, with Matthew Wolff delivering his first PGA Tour win at the age of 20 in only his 4th PGA Tour start. His win came off incoming form of MC/MC since becoming a professional at the Travelers Championship 2 weeks earlier and he won at a rather tasty 175/1 best price.

It’s relatively early days in terms of being able to correlate courses to TPC Twin Cities and building your preferences solely on some tenuous links would be ill-advised, but it’s worth remembering that we’re in the north of the United States. Matthew Wolff himself has done little since his win here 12 months ago, but he popped up a couple of weeks back in Detroit (Michigan) on another birdie-fest where he shot -20/268 to finish 2nd behind Bryson DeChambeau. DeChambeau of course finished runner-up here last year when we were on-board at 16/1, tied in fact with Collin Morikawa. Now Bryson and Collin are both Muirfield Village winners, with Bryson also winning his first ever PGA Tour title at Deere Run in 2017. Collin went on to finish 4th at Deere Run, the week after his runner-up finish here at TPC Twin Cities. Another player you can throw into this mix is Adam Hadwin. 4th here at the 3M Open, he also finished 4th a fortnight ago in Detroit. The Canadian has always been the sort who likes low scoring, so 8th at Deere Run in 2016 plus 4th (2019) at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas is also interesting, especially on the basis that Bryson DeChambeau won the 2018 Shriners Open and has another 2 top-7 finishes there in the desert.

Ball-strikers were all over the top of the original leaderboard here and I doubt that changes too much with more wind in the forecast. Wide fairways and large green complexes help here, but as I said further up the preview, I’m expecting more of a mid-score level tournament this week, with the middle 2 rounds affected a little by a gusting breeze.

My Final 3M Open Tips Are As Follows

Russell Henley 1.5pts EW 33/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

2nd in this week’s Predictor Model tells you a lot about why I’m very sweet on Russell Henley for the 3M Open.

33/1 in a poor depth field is acceptable, after all his last win at the 2017 Houston Open came at 40/1, again in a poor field. And Russell is above the likes of Tony Finau, Brooks Koepka, Paul Casey and Bubba Watson in my published predictor model top 10. So just why is that? A strong wind player (3rd in this field over 5 years), he sits 7th in this field for Proximity to Hole and 1st for Bogey Avoidance (both this season on the PGA Tour). 9th in this field for Mid-Score tournaments and 12th for results in the northern United States (both over 5 years), Russell also sits 9th in this field on responsive golf courses, if this week’s test has lack of roll on the fairways and watered greens (the latter is highly likely).

The one thing we could summarise from the 3M Open 12 months ago was that TPC Twin Cities really responded to high-class ball-striking. Wolff (15th), DeChambeau (13th), Morikawa (7th) Hadwin (9th) and Clark (12th) all excelled when it came to the tee-to-green game and that’s backed up by the fact that they were all in the top 18 for Strokes Gained on Approach. So across my 8-week trackers for the 3M Open Henley sits 18th for SG Off the Tee, 7th for SG on Approach and 17th for SG Tee to Green.  All well and good, but I also like plenty of the courses where he has finished well in the past.

15th (2019) and 16th (2017) at TPC Scottsdale, 6th (2013) and 7th (last time out) at Muirfield Village, 11th (2015) and 6th (2018) TPC River Highlands and 2nd at Deere Run (2019) all correspond very nicely with the likes of Bryson DeChambeau (runner-up last year) and Kenny Perry (a 3-time Champions Tour winner at TPC Twin Cities). And from my stated view that the set-up this week has Florida course overtures, Henley has finished 13h (2013), 1st (2014), 20th (2019) and 8th (2020) at the hardest Florida golf course of them all – the Champions Course at PGA National.

Henley also has course experience from 12 months ago where he admittedly missed the cut on the number, but was also amidst a 4 tournament MC streak. This year he arrives with form of 17(Genesis)-8(Honda)-MC-32(Travelers)-7(Workday). RESULT: MC

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Harris English 1.5pts EW 35/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

I’m also on the case of Harris English, who has a correlating course form record I really like this week.

15th (2012), 9th (2014), 3rd (2016) and 16th (2020) at TPC Scottsdale; 14th (2014) and 9th (2020) at Bay Hill; 5th (2012) and 2nd (2016) at Colonial; 7th (2014) at TPC River Highlands; 4th at TPC Summerlin (2017); Harris has undoubtedly played well at courses where TPC Twin Cities expert Kenny Perry has excelled in the past.

4 top-6 finishes in the 2019 part of this current season highlighted that he’s a player to watch and when the fields got deeper in 2020 his play continued to impress: 16th at TPC Scottsdale, 17th at PGA National, 9th at Bay Hill, 17th at Harbour Town and 13th at Muirfield Village. This week again at a second-level type of tournament when most of the big names are at home, I think English could challenge on his second visit to TPC Twin Cities.

26th for SG Off the Tee, 18th for SG on Approach and 13th for SG Tee to Green at the Memorial last week, Harris sits 5th for Approach, 2nd for Tee to Green, 1st for Putting and 1st for SG Total across my 8-week Strokes Gained tracker in this field. Impressive stuff.  A closing 72 in the worst of the conditions will have boosted the confidence yesterday and he must arrive in Minnesota well rested and ready to add to his 2 PGA Tour titles. RESULT: T18

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Will Gordon 1pt EW 66/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

Last year here saw freshly-turned professionals Matthew Wolff and Collin Morikawa fight tooth and nail for the title with, at the time, 5-time PGA Tour winner Bryson DeChambeau. Both Wolff and Morikawa were ex amateur World Number 1 players and 12 months down the line with Viktor Hovland in tow, all are established PGA Tour winners. I see a likeness to Will Gordon who made it as high as Number 9 in the amateur golf rankings and who’s made some waves on the PGA Tour this season.

With no status on the PGA Tour and using sponsors exemptions, Gordon this season has finished 10th at Sea Island, 21st at Torrey Pines, 20th at Grand Reserve CC and 3rd at TPC River Highlands, powered by a 2nd round 62, and he led the field that week for birdies with 27. Those finishes were to generate enough non-member FedEx Cup points to qualify for Special Temporary Membership and in all likelihood we’ll see him now through to the Wyndham Championship and then again at the start of the new 2020/21 season where he will have a full card.

But I think that Gordon is very much live for this week. 10th in Driving Distance All Drives and across my 8-week trackers 8th for Greens in Regulation, 8th for Putting Average (Putts per GIR), 5th for SG Off the Tee, 17th for SG Around the Green, 3rd for SG Tee to Green and 10th for SG Total in the field, the 23 year-old from Davidson, North Carolina has masses of game. And he also has amateur pedigree that relates well to the likes of Wolff and Morikawa. 5th at the 2018 Carmel Cup in California was behind Matthew Wolff and also in 2018, Will won the Tavistock Intercollegiate Invitational at Isleworth G&CC in Orlando, Florida. That event is interesting as it’s played on a Arnold Palmer design – which hosted the 2014 Hero World Challenge – and Collin Morikawa excelled there finishing 2nd in 2017 and 5th behind Gordon in 2018. That Gordon/Morikawa link continues with the Northeast Amateur Invitational played at Wannamoisett CC in Rhode Island, where Morikawa won in 2017, before Gordon finished 3rd there in 2018 (beating Morikawa into the bargain).

Long off the tee, well rested and in good spirits post the Travelers, Will has masses of local agronomy experience from his time on last year’s Mackenzie Tour (Canada). RESULT: MC

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Charley Hoffman 1pt EW 80/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

Charley Hoffman has always been a momentum player who has 4 PGA Tour victories in the bank. His 2007 Bob Hope Classic victory came in windy conditions, which featured 36 holes at the Palmer Private Club. 2010 saw him win his second title at an Arnold Palmer design, this time at TPC Boston where he took his biggest title to date – the Deutsche Bank Championship in a star-studded field in Massachusetts. Wins in 2014 at El Camaleon and in 2016 at AT&T Oaks followed and as close ago as 2017 he was in the World’s top 20. Those days are behind him, but we are seeing green shoots of recovery in 2020, with 9th at Torrey Pines, 13th at Bay Hill and 7th at Muirfield Village last time out, driving Charley back towards the top 100 in the World.

Comfortable on receptive greens and especially when the wind blows, Hoffman favours wider golf courses where he can unleash with the driver. He’s also Bentgrass and Par 72-positive and in this field in my 8-week tracker ranks 3rd for Putting Average (Putts per GIR) and 6th for Strokes Gained Total.

Always at his most comfortable on the west coast or in the northern states of the United States, his latest outing at Muirfield Village was impressive. Rounds of 68 (Friday), 68 (Saturday) and 67 (Sunday) catapulted him up the leaderboard and that followed a Saturday 65 at TPC River Highlands, where he was 12th after 54 rounds. Charley has always been a momentum sort, who needs to reinforce being in contention over a short number of tournaments to boost his confidence. And at 97th in the FedEx Cup standings I think he will be focussed this week to try and boost that position, on his last appearance ‘up-state’ in the regular season (he has no entry for the WGC or PGA Championship). RESULT: MC

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Keith Mitchell 1pt EW 125/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

A player who can hit the ball a long way and who’s a streaky putter was a decent enough combination here 12 months ago and Keith Mitchell is a good shout this week. Yes he’s undoubtedly better on Bermudagrass greens, but in Mitchell we have a player who ranks 28th for Strokes Gained Off the Tee, 31st for Driving Distance All Drives and 34th for SG Putting across the whole season to date.

3rd for Greens in Regulation and 13th for Ball Striking at Muirfield Village last week when he finished an upward mobile 22nd, Mitchell has always been the sort who can handle himself when the wind blows and score low totals when the course suits. 2nd at the windswept 2018 Corales Championship, his rookie season also included 6th at the Houston Open (-14/274), 3rd at the Byron Nelson (-19/265) and 7th at the John Deere Classic (-16/268).

As I have already stated in this preview, I think TPC Twin Cities has both the visual and physical look of a Florida-type golf course, with water everywhere. So Mitchell’s record in the Sunshine State really peaks my interest. The winner of the 2019 Honda Classic at PGA National, Keith has also finished 6th (2019) and 5th (2020) at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which is naturally Arnold Palmer’s masterpiece design. Windswept golf therefore holds no fears for the St Simons Island, Georgia resident who has also played well enough in the northern United States on similar grass-types. His Korn Ferry promotion year included 6th at Ohio State GC, Columbus Ohio (Par 71 featuring Bentgrass greens) and 6th at Canterbury Golf Club, Breachwood, Ohio  (Par 70 Bentgrass Poa Annua). That aforementioned 7th at Deere Run, played at Silvis, Illinois also follows the geographic and agronomy narrative I like. RESULT: MC

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 16:30BST 20.7.20 but naturally subject to fluctuation.