Paul Goydos finished his pro-am round at TPC Twin Cities and soon kicked back in an oversized leather chair, ankles crossed looking carefree as can be.
“I like it here,” he said.
Ah, the life of a defending champion.
Goydos shot 20 under in last year’s 3M Championship, including a tournament-record 60 in the second round. Thursday, he played the course for the first time since.
“This was my first event [on the PGA Tour Champions in 2014], I’ve had success so it’s always nice to come back,” he said. “Winning is the ultimate success, as far as I know, and it was nice to have some memories pop back in there.”
On paper, Goydos figures to be one of the favorites when the field tees off Friday morning for Round 1, especially with many of the PGA Tour Champions top-tier players taking this week off. But Goydos throws some caution to that thought.
First and foremost, he noted, he’s never come close to repeating as winner in any of his previous four victories after turning 50. His best showing as defending champion is a tie for ninth at last year’s Schwab Cup Championship.
Goydos also tied for 24th (at the 2016 Allianz Championship) and tied for 47th (at the 2017 Dick’s Sporting Goods Open) as a defending champion.
“It’s a function of having your game ready at the right time,” he said. “Last year [here] I had one of the greatest putting tournaments in the history of the game. The last 44 holes I made everything. That’s what needs to happen for me to win and that’s tough to do.”
The winning score at the 3M has been at least 15 under since 2009, and three times it’s been better than Goydos’ 20-under mark.
“My game is like a jack-in-the-box in that I never know when it’s going to show,” he said. “So I just have to remain patient even though if you make a few pars around here, it feels like you’re losing ground.”
Lehman looks ahead
Tom Lehman gave a peek behind the curtain to how TPC Twin Cities will set up for the inaugural 3M Open, a PGA Tour event next July.
It will play to par 71 with the 546-yard No. 3 becoming a par-4 hole for the event. No. 18 will be almost completely rebuilt — from the tee boxes to the fairway to reshaping the pond in front of the green.
“It’s exciting but way too short,” Lehman said of the finishing hole. “Right now you can be a little crooked and still in the fairway. We have to change that.”
The course will be lengthened by strategically growing out the rough. For example, on No. 15 the entire left side of the 60-yard-wide fairway will become rough with a bunker at the edge. That will force players to aim to the right, where trees and the potential for a second shot on an upslope await.
“When the top players are on their game they’re going to beat any golf course,” Lehman said. “How do you challenge the best players? There are ways to do it without being stupid and tricky.”
Work is slated to begin next week. Except for adding a tee box on No. 17, the par 3s will go largely untouched.
Lehman helped design the course in 2000.
Lietzke to be honored
Players will wear red ribbons this weekend in honor of 2001 3M Championship winner Bruce Lietzke, who died last weekend after a battle with brain cancer.