Mark Calcavecchia checked the forecast on his iPad on Saturday morning and immediately knew the second round of the 3M Championship would become a birdie binge.
Virtually no wind combined with soft greens from Thursday’s rain rendered the TPC Twin Cities defenseless against the best senior golfers.
The TPC produces double-digit red scores every year, even if the wind blows. But under ideal conditions like Saturday?
Go low, or go home.
“You know you need to shoot 67 or better every day to have a chance at the end,” Calcavecchia said.
The scores Saturday were historic. The second-round scoring average was 67.883, the lowest single-round average ever for a Champions Tour event.
Calcavecchia figured he needed a 66 — at minimum — to gain any ground after a ho-hum 70 on Friday.
“You might even lose ground shooting 3 under,” he said.
The leaderboard was unkind to anyone who dared make pars instead of birdies and eagles. Michael Bradley played terrific in shooting a 64 … “and got beat by four,” he cracked.
Yep, he became an afterthought after his playing partner, Paul Goydos, finished his final four holes birdie-birdie-birdie-eagle to set a tournament record with a round of 60.
Goydos was 7 under for the tournament after the front nine. He gave himself a pep talk to play better.
“Well, 7 under par is going to finish 50th this year,” he said. “You need to quit patting yourself on the back and get going.”
Goydos entered the interview room with the lead at 14 under. Kenny Perry was still on the course, collecting birdies.
“Goydos might not even be leading at the end of the day,” said Kevin Sutherland, who is at 10 under but not even in the top 10 on the leaderboard.
Sutherland laughed for a few seconds at the absurdity of a round of 60 and 14 under par not being good enough for the lead.
Turns out, Goydos finished the round tied with Perry.
Nobody was the least bit surprised by the sea of red on the leaderboard.
“I think this is the lowest-scoring tournament we play,” Sutherland said. “I don’t know of another one that’s lower.”
The 3M Championship is a perfect outing for fans who love to see golfers conquer a course. Only once has the winning score been single digits under par in the tournament’s 24-year history.
Since moving to the TPC Twin Cities in 2001, the average winning score has been 16 under.
Senior circuit rookie Steve Stricker checked the scores from last year before getting his first glimpse of the course during Wednesday’s practice round.
“I was like, ‘Wow, that’s some pretty good playing,’ ” he said. “It didn’t seem like the course was a gimme.”
Stricker shot a 63 on Saturday and summed up this event succinctly when he said he hopes he has a “glimmer of a chance” in the final round sitting at 12 under.
“It’s not out of the question that 22, 24 under might win,” Bradley said.
Calcavecchia said easy course setups occasionally frustrated him on the PGA Tour. He recalled a tournament in which he posted rounds of 68, 69, 69, 69 and finished “44th or something.”
“I was like, that’s as good as I can play,” he said. “Sometimes when the scoring is super-duper low, it is a little frustrating.”
He doesn’t mind low scores at the 3M Championship because it creates excitement for fans.
“We’re putting on a pretty good show this week,” Calcavecchia said.
A good showing individually doesn’t guarantee victory. Sutherland finished 17 under in this event last season and took third place.
“It’s very different than the PGA Tour,” he said. “There’s a lot of tournaments out there where single digits is a good [score].”
Not this one, which makes for fun competition. Bradley didn’t seem bothered that his 64 was upstaged by Goydos’ round of 60.
“You have to appreciate what you just witnessed,” he said. “There are not many 60s shot. I was high-fiving him the whole day every time he made a putt.”
Chip Scoggins firstname.lastname@example.org