Jack Nicklaus has his own PGA Tour tournament to worry about and has since the Memorial first hit the schedule in 1976 at his Muirfield Village and Roger Maltbie defeated Hale Irwin in a three-hole playoff.
But asked Saturday about the 3M Open coming to the Twin Cities next July 4th, Nicklaus didn’t hesitate to offer his thoughts.
“You’ll probably get a darn good field,” Nicklaus said before an autograph session and exhibition as part of the Greats of Golf event at the 3M Championship in Blaine. “Two weeks after the U.S. Open is a good date. The course will show well. The town will show well. And the players will support this tournament.”
If there’s one thing Nicklaus knows, it’s the pulse of the PGA Tour. The 18-time major champion is hands-on at the Memorial and has an expansive course design business. He’s seen the ups and downs from small tournament purses to the emergence of Tiger Woods as a virtual kick in the knickers to the sport.
As the Tiger wave moves on, Nicklaus is impressed by what’s ahead. And that’s good news for the 3M Open, which has a seven-year contract with the PGA Tour.
“Professional golf, from a tournament standpoint, is probably as healthy as it’s ever been,” Nicklaus said. “You’ve got a bunch of young guys on tour who are really good. More now than ever. When we played we had maybe eight, 10 guys who were really good. They’ve got what now? Maybe 30? And that’s very healthy for the game.”
Nicklaus pointed to the influx of international players such as Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood playing well this summer giving the tour a boost and global representation.
“Golf is in a very healthy state, and you’ll see that here,” he said. “The people here are going to enjoy it. They’ve really enjoyed the seniors here, I don’t see any reason they won’t enjoy the regular tour a lot more. Those guys are pretty darn good.”