Local club pros get their first shot at 3M

  • Article by: BRIAN STENSAAS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 31, 2012 - 12:57 AM

Don Berry and Dave Tentis both received an exemption.

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Dave Tentis

Photo: Renee Jones Schneider , Star Tribune file

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Around noon Monday the call came in. Don Berry and Dave Tentis were summoned to the TPC Twin Cities clubhouse for a meeting with 3M Championship tournament director Hollis Cavner and officials from the PGA Champions Tour.

"They gotta make sure we know not to throw clubs, stuff like that," Berry joked.

Berry and Tentis are no strangers to top competition. They have combined to make seven appearances in PGA Championships, two U.S. Opens and a Masters. But this week, the two 50-year-old locals are playing in their first Champions Tour event. The club professionals -- Berry at Edinburgh USA in Brooklyn Park and Tentis at Troy Burne in Hudson, Wis. -- were granted a spot into the 3M Championship via sponsor's exemption.

The tournament begins Friday in Blaine.

"This being our 20th year I wanted the exemptions to go to Minnesota guys," said Cavner, who also gave a nod to Minnesota native John Harris, his 11th appearance in the event. "I've known them a long time and they are both really good guys who deserve a chance to come out and play. They can play some good golf, too. I've been watching. They'll present themselves well."

Cavner said on average he receives upwards of 110 requests from players for sponsor's exemptions.

Berry wrote his letter in March.

"I'm really looking forward to the week," he said. "I've played in majors -- played in the 2002 PGA Championship at Hazeltine -- and this is every bit as exciting for me. It would have been tough watching it in the shop [on TV] had I not gotten in."

Tentis has volunteered at the 3M for several years. He met with Cavner at TPC Twin Cities earlier this summer and was offered a spot in the field.

"I certainly wasn't planning on this," Tentis said. "It's just wonderful for us to have an event like this close by and for Donny and I to get to be part of it is great."

Tentis, who turned 50 in May, got his first taste of big-time golf as an amateur when he represented the United States in the 1983 Walker Cup. The next spring, he played in the Masters and the U.S. Open.

His body "broke down early" from playing too much golf, he said, but he added that he is ready to play. As for his nerves?

"I expect to be uncomfortable on Friday; I'm not doing this every week," Tentis said. "I'm not expecting a ton. Looking to have fun more than anything. I'm an old 50, and when you're playing with the best 50-and-older players in the world, it's just fun to take part."

Though Berry won the Minnesota Senior Open at Edina Country Club in June, he said his game isn't quite where he would like it to be.

"I'm going to start playing better at some point," he said. "It might as well be this week."

Big names out, back

While a hectic transatlantic travel schedule caused Fred Couples and Tom Watson to skip the 3M Championship (both informed Cavner last week from Scotland they were out), TPC Twin Cities will be the site of two notable returns.

Mark O'Meara and Nick Price, both former major champions sidelined since late March because of injuries, are expected to tee it up in Round 1 on Friday.

"They both said they targeted this event to come back, and that's pretty cool," Cavner said.

Final five

The final five spots will be decided by an 18-hole qualifier Tuesday at nearby Victory Links, with 28 players vying for the last entries.

The qualifying field includes 2008 champion R.W. Eaks; Dick Mast, who finished tied for third at Turnberry in the Senior British Open on Sunday; and Gene Jones and James Mason, who each have a pair of top-10 finishes at the 3M Championship in their careers.

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