The first round of the post-major part of the season took place on Thursday at TPC Twin Cities as the 3M Open got underway. It’s part of a nice stretch run for the PGA Tour leading into the FedEx Cup Playoffs in August, and some interesting names (as well as bubble boys in the FedEx Cup) had good days in Minnesota.
One of the biggest names in the field — albeit not a full-time PGA Tour golfer — struggled monumentally on the first day of the tournament (more on that below), but the favorite coming into the week has even shorter odds after the first round at TPC Twin Cities than he did before the tournament started.
We’ll get to all of that and more in this Round 1 recap.
1. Sungjae Im, Scott Piercy (-6): Beware of the hottest putters. Both Piercy and Im gained over four strokes on the field with their putters on Thursday, and while both hit the ball fairly well, there’s likely going to be some regression in the days ahead. I was struck by what Im said after his round and how simple all of it sounded (spoiler: it’s not that simple).
“He’s not good at putting [the last] two weeks or three weeks,” his interpretor said. “But he made a change and he made a lot of birdie chances and then he made it.”
This has indeed been Im’s worst putting season in his last four, but he finished first in the field Thursday in that category. Only time will tell if that was a harbinger of another win for the No. 24 player in the world or a one-off day in which his play wasn’t as good as his score.
T3. Brice Garnett, Doug Ghim, Emiliano Grillo, Tony Finau, Tom Hoge (-4)
T8. Chesson Hadley, Ricky Barnes, David Lingmerth, Peter Malnati, Robert Streb, Patton Kizzire, Adam Hadwin (-3)
Finau is obviously the massive name here as he was the pretournament favorite and is nearly the favorite after Round 1, just behind Im, after firing a 67 on Thursday. Big Tone finished second in the field in strokes gained tee to green Thursday and had a clean card after making bogey at the very first hole (he played his last 16 in 5 under). He comes into this week off a nice run of play with three top 15s in his last five starts, including a runner-up at the Canadian Open in June. He also came in leading everyone in this field in total strokes gained over their last 20 rounds, and the best player in the field played like it over the first 18 holes.
Golf is hard (part 833)
Former tennis star Mardy Fish received a sponsor exemption into this year’s 3M Open. At the outset, this seems absurd, and perhaps it is. But Fish is a really good player and sports a +3 handicap. That’s not Tour level, but — if it’s accurate — it’s not that far off either. So what did he do in Round 1? He shot 10-over 81 and lost strokes to the field in every single category. Golf at the PGA Tour level is outrageously difficult, and watching elite amateurs struggle is a good reminder of that reality.
Two golfers withdrew after Round 1, and both of them were notable (albeit for different reasons). Hideki Matsuyama shot 77 (including a 9 on the 18th hole) and withdrew with a sore wrist after his round. Matsuyama is having a strange year. He’s been besieged by injury but also made the cut at all four major championships, one of just nine players to do so. Throw in a disqualification at the Memorial, a win at the Sony Open and all the rumors about him joining LIV Golf at some point in the future, and it’s one of the odder seven-month stretches for a star that I can remember. The other WD on Thursday was Robert Garrigus, which was only notable because of the reason he withdrew.
The biggest name in this field that is also on the FedEx Cup bubble is Rickie Fowler, who is No. 129 in the FedEx Cup (top 125 make it to the playoffs). He shot a 1-under 70 on Thursday, which was in the top 25 after the first day. He started strong here last year with a 64 in Round 1 before fading away from the top of the leaderboard, but after a tough two years and some strong play at the Scottish Open, it would be fantastic to see him in the mix this weekend. Jason Day joins Fowler on the bubble as he’s No. 122 in the FedEx Cup standings, and he also shot a 1-under 70 on Thursday.
3M Open odds, picks
Here is a look at the updated odds after 18 holes of play, via Caesars Sportsbook.
- Sungjae Im: +350
- Tony Finau: +450
- Adam Hadwin: 14-1
- Scott Piercy: 14-1
- Emiliano Grillo: 14-1
- Tom Hoge: 18-1
- Doug Ghim: 18-1
Hoge led the field in strokes gained tee to green on Thursday and Hadwin finished fifth in that category. Finau is an easy pick to win the golf tournament because of how purely he’s hitting it right now, but that’s a terrible number that’s very difficult to play with so much time left in the event. Fowler at 50-1, close to his pretournament number, is intriguing to me.