3M Open: Lewis Headlines First Rd. Selections

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The third edition of the 3M Open is set to begin tomorrow morning. On the heels of a historic Open, the 3M has big shoes to fill as players gear up for the home stretch of the season before the FedEx Cup Playoffs.

When looking through the months of July and August, the 3M Open inevitably gets skip over. Sandwiched between the year’s final major and the Olympics, if a player is in Minnesota this week, it’s likely for a good reason. Whether it’s for FedEx Cup points, Ryder Cup points, or to find some form heading into the playoffs, most are not here for a simple payday.

Playing host to players this week is TPC Twin Cities. An Arnold Palmer design that stretches north of 7,400 yards, this par-71 has been susceptible to birdies in the past. With an average winning score of 20-under through the first two years of this tournament, players will likely need a round in the seven to eight-under range in order to capture the coveted first-round lead.

In order to do so, a players will have to avoid the numerous penalty areas as water lurks off almost every tee. From the fairway, precise iron shots will need to be struck and birdie opportunities will need to be converted.

The oddsmakers at PointsBet Sportsbook have priced the first-round leader market ahead of the 3M Open. World No. 2, Dustin Johnson sits atop the odds board at +2000. He opened last year's tournament with a 7-over 78 and withdrew after posting his score. He’ll surely want to get off to a better start this year as he is still in search of a PGA Tour victory in 2021.

Odds to Lead After the First Round (Odds Via PointsBet):

+2000: Dustin Johnson

+3000: Louis Oosthuizen, Tony Finau

+3300: Cameron Tringale, Matthew Wolff, Patrick Reed

+4000: Bubba Watson, Cameron Davis, Emiliano Grillo, Robert MacIntyre, Sergio Garcia

+5000: Doug Ghim, Dylan Frittelli, Lucas Herbert, Maverick McNealy, Rickie Fowler, Stewart Cink

To Lead After the First-Round (Odds Via PointsBet):

Chris Kirk (+6000):

Coming off a missed cut at The Open, some may be weary to go to the well with Kirk. However, it was just the second round that was his undoing as the former Georgia Bulldog opened with a 2-under 68 at Royal St. George’s. He hit plenty of fairways and greens last Thursday and I figure a similar outing could be in store just a week later.

In total, Kirk’s tee-to-green play has been exquisite in Round 1, primarily the irons, boasting performances of +2.6 Strokes Gained: Approach at the Charles Schwab Challenge, +3.5 SG: Approach at the Memorial, and +2.9 SG: Approach at the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

Before his opening 68 last week, Kirk started the Rocket Mortgage Classic on a high note, shooting a first-round 5-under 67. He started strong in last year’s 3M Open as well with a first-round 66. If he can find a way to have positive day on the greens, the rest of Kirk’s game should hold up and allow him to go even lower in the first-round.

Hank Lebioda (+6000):

It’s been quite the summer for Lebioda and you ought to believe all his fine play will pay off soon. Riding three top-10 finishes in a row, two of which have doubled as top-5's, he’s in the midst of the best golf of his career. Now, he comes to TPC Twin Cities, where in eight rounds he has yet to post a score worse than 1-under.

While he has been one of the hottest golfers on the planet, Lebioda’s play in the first-round has played a crucial role in his recent run. Having posted opening rounds of 64-67-69-68 in his last four starts, getting off to a fast start has allowed Lebioda to play freely over the remainder of the week.

On paper, a course like TPC Twin Cities should fit Lebioda’s eye. Boasting similarities to Innisbrook, TPC River Highlands, and even TPC Deere Run in my mind, the skillsets that led him to success in those tournaments should do the same this week at the 3M Open.

Kyle Stanley (+6000):

A staple in this article at this point, I am still waiting for the week that Stanley finds the flatstick in the first-round. Over the last two months, Stanley’s first-round scoring average falls just below 70, yet he has never gained strokes with the putter.

With the putter lagging, the ball-striking has been able to pick up the slack. With performances of +4.3 SG: Ball-striking at the Charles Schwab Challenge, +3.3 SG: Ball-striking at the Memorial, and +2.5 SG: Ball-striking at the John Deere Classic, Stanley has proven he’s just a hot putter away from going low on Thursday.

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Jhonattan Vegas (+6000):

Potentially one of the most underrated players of the summer, Vegas has now connected on seven weekend appearances in a row. With only one missed cut since February, getting off to a strong start has become second nature to the Venezuelan.

With three top-11 finishes in his last five starts, Vegas has been a shot here or there away from capturing his fourth PGA Tour title. Those shots are typically left on the greens as he has been prone to struggle with the flat stick from time-to-time.

However, in the first-round alone, he’s been able to find a bit of form with that club. Posting performances of +1.2 SG: Putting at the Palmetto Championship and +0.3 SG: Putting at the John Deere Classic, he’s not incapable of a good putting day. With scores of 67-66 in those two rounds, it goes to show that if Vegas has a strong showing with the putter, he’ll surely be in the first-round leader mix.

Chez Reavie (+8000):

Having fallen just a single-stroke short for us at the John Deere Classic, I figured Reavie deserved another opportunity to play hero. After struggling in the front half of the season, the former Arizona St. Sun Devil has found some form recently, specifically with his irons.

His first-round performances have played a large role in his mini resurgence. Excluding the major championships, over the last two months, Reavie has averaged a score of 67.25 in Round 1. That includes his last outing in the United States at the John Deere Classic where he fired a 7-under 64.

In the Quad Cities, Reavie had one of those days where everything he looked at went in the hole. It’s unlikely that such a performance repeats itself, having gained north of three-strokes on the greens that day. However, in the off chance that it does, the rest of his game is more than capable of holding its end of the bargain.

Tom Lewis (+10000):

Motivation is a trendy topic of discussion this week. With only three weeks’ worth of events before the beginning of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, Lewis sits 155th in the season long race. While that will surely be on the mind of the Englishman, there’s another level of incentive that I believe is going overlooked. That would be the fact that Lewis missed out on competing in his home country’s Open last week.

Not only that, but at Royal St. George’s no less, where he made his Open debut in 2011 (where he just happened to lead after the first-round) and won the Boys Amateur Championship in 2009. Lewis played decent enough at the Barbosal Championship in the alternate field event, capturing a top-40 finish, but I believe he could be in for an even better week at the 3M Open.

His last four first-round performances read 69-69-65-67. His irons have been phenomenal in those rounds, posting more than +1.5 SG: Approach in each of them. As you would expect seeing his scores, Lewis has been able to convert his birdie opportunities at a high clip while avoiding the costly mistakes. I don’t care who you’re talking about, that’s always going to be a recipe for success.

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