What: The 16th of 26 events on the PGA Champions Tour 2014 schedule
When: Practice rounds and pro-ams Monday-Thursday; 54-hole tournament Friday-Sunday
Where: TPC Twin Cities in Blaine (par 72)
Tickets: Free general admission all week. The expo tent behind No. 18 green and a family fun zone Friday-Sunday are also free
Parking: Free (including shuttle service) at the Anoka County Airport
Purse: $1.75 million ($262,500 to the winner)
TV: Golf Channel (11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Friday; 2-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday)
Defending champion: Tom Pernice Jr. (17-under 199)
Tournament 54-hole record: 191 (25 under) by David Frost in 2010
Tournament 18-hole record: 61 (by Frost in the final round of 2010
Last year: Pernice birdied his final two holes to fend off final-round charges by Corey Pavin and Jeff Sluman by a stroke to earn his second victory on the Champions Tour. Pernice drained a 45-foot birdie putt on No. 17, then two-putted from 8 feet on the final hole — his 10th birdie on 12 par-5s for the week — to win the title. He grabbed the winner’s check, but it was Sluman’s masterful final round that had everyone talking. His seven consecutive birdies to open Sunday’s play were one off a Champions Tour record and the most to start a round on the 50-and-over circuit in more than a decade. Pernice became the fifth player to win the 3M Championship making his tournament debut.
Champions Tour update
For the fifth consecutive year, the 3M Championship falls immediately following a Champions Tour major. The majority of players will arrive in Blaine from across the pond following Sunday’s final round of the Senior British Open in Wales. If you’re looking for a favorite at TPC Twin Cities, it’d be unwise to bet against Bernhard Langer. The two-time 3M champion is second in the Schwab Cup standings but that will change if he wins the Senior British Open on Sunday. He enters the final round with an eight-shot lead, matching the 54-hole record in a Champions Tour major. Langer comes back to Blaine after missing last year’s event because of a committment in his native Germany. And why not? In five appearances at the 3M, Langer has banked just over $700,000. “It’s his own 401k plan,” tournament director Hollis Cavner said. Schwab Cup leader Colin Montgomerie is an easy co-favorite. He’s won two majors this season and finished at 13 under in his 3M debut last season. “My golf is as good as it was in the ’90s, when I was No. 2 in the world,” he said after winning the U.S. Senior Open two weeks ago.
No matter the date or what comes before it, Cavner always finds a way to get the biggest names to show up. This time is no exception. The argument could be made the 3M is a stronger field than the Senior British Open with Mark Calcavecchia, Vijay Singh, Kenny Perry, Jay Haas and hometown favorite Tom Lehman all skipping the major but expected to play in Blaine. Eight of the top 10 Schwab Cup leaders are entered in a field that routinely is wide open. Scores at TPC Twin Cities are among the lowest on the Champions Tour and no player in the 21-year history of the event has defended his title. “I feel good about things,” Pernice said. “But you never know out on the golf course.” Two-time PGA Tour winner Paul Goydos turned 50 last month and is set to make his Champions Tour debut.
Big three plus Lee
Jack Nicklaus hasn’t played a competitive round of golf in nearly a decade but you can bet he’ll be the most talked-about golfer on the grounds. Nicklaus will appear with fellow legends Arnold Palmer and Gary Player on Saturday in the annual Greats of Golf exhibition. It’s the first time Nicklaus, the PGA Tour’s career leader with 18 major championships, will appear at any part of the 3M Championship. The trio, along with other Greats including Lee Trevino, Dave Stockton, Johnny Miller, Annika Sorenstam, Nancy Lopez and Pat Bradley, will participate in autograph sessions before hitting the course around noon.