3M Championship preview: Expect another flurry of birdies

  • Article by: BRIAN STENSAAS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 28, 2013 - 9:29 PM

Champions Tour rookies and veterans alike are gearing up for the annual 3M Championship this week. The tournament, known for low scores and big names, begins Friday with plenty of free events preceding the opening round.

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Kenny Perry celebrated his victory in the U.S. Senior Open, one of his two major championships this season.

Photo: Alyssa Schukar • Omaha World Herald via AP,

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The basics

When: Practice rounds and pro-ams Monday-Thursday; 54-hole tournament Friday-Sunday

Where: TPC Twin Cities in Blaine

Tickets: Free general admission all week. The expo tent (Friday-Sunday) located behind No. 18 is also free.

Parking/shuttle service: Free from the Anoka County Airport.

Purse: $1.75 million; $262,500 to the winner

TV: Golf Channel (11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Friday; 3-5 p.m. Saturday; 3-5 p.m. Sunday)

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: Bernhard Langer awoke Sunday thinking he’d need a 10-under 62 to come from six shots back and win the 3M Championship for the second time in four years. So he did it, besting David Peoples by two shots.

The victory ended a 24-event winless stretch for Langer, his longest drought since joining the 50-and-over circuit. Kenny Perry and Olin Browne tied for third.

Langer joins Hale Irwin (1997, ’99, ’02) as the only multiple-time winner of the 3M Championship. Irwin shot a final-round 65 last August, beating his age by two strokes.

Champions Tour update

Kenny Perry never broke through to win the big one while on the PGA Tour, twice losing in major championship playoffs. This season he’s finally figured it out.

Perry is the overwhelming leader in the season-long Charles Schwab Cup points race on the Champions Tour after major victories in the Senior Players and U.S. Senior Open events this summer. In each event he came from two shots back to start the final round to eventually hoist the hardware.

“Why, after all these years?” Perry said after his five-shot victory in the U.S. Senior Open. “Here I am, [almost] 53 years old, and it finally came together for me.”

Perry is one of the favorites heading into this week, with 3M Championship tournament and 18-hole record holder David Frost in the conversation as well. Frost has two victories this season, including his first major at the Regions Tradition in June, and eight top-10s. Champions Tour rookies Duffy Waldorf and Rocco Mediate are others inside the Schwab Cup top 10 to keep an eye on this week.

For the fourth consecutive year the 3M Championship falls the week after a major. Perry, though, should be rested. He elected not to play in the Senior British Open.

No repeat

One thing this week is already a given: For the 20th time there will not be a repeat winner in the event.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer, fourth in the Schwab Cup standings with a pair of victories this season and the leader by three strokes of this week’s Senior British Open, has a prior commitment this week in his homeland of Germany.

“He had to be there; you never get everybody,” tournament director Hollis Cavner said. “Bernhard is a great friend and [has] been great for this tournament. We’ll miss Bernhard.”

There should still be plenty of talent on display. Minnesota native Tom Lehman will draw the largest galleries, but he’ll get competition from fellow former Ryder Cup captains Tom Kite, Hal Sutton, Corey Pavin and 3M Championship newcomer Colin Montgomerie. Seven former winners are expected to be in the field: Frost, Kite, Hale Irwin, Wayne Levi, Tom Purtzer, D.A. Weibring and Jay Haas.

A female first

For the first time since the Greats of Golf challenge started 10 years ago, Saturday’s biggest name might not be Arnold Palmer. That’s because 10-time LPGA major champion Annika Sorenstam has agreed to participate in the popular tournament within the tournament, joining fellow LPGA greats Nancy Lopez and Pat Bradley.

Sorenstam has not played competitive golf since stepping aside in 2008. Cavner said he didn’t have to push too hard to get Sorenstam to commit, but convincing the PGA Tour to green-light the idea was far more than a formality. In the end it was roundly approved.

“We love to be on the front end of a groundbreaking deal,” Cavner said. “Quite honestly I’m shocked the LPGA has never done something like this, using their legends.”

The LPGA players will be captained by Palmer. Among the other Greats scheduled to appear are Johnny Miller, Lee Trevino and Dave Stockton.

 

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    Saturday July 27, 2013

    EARNINGSPlayer Events Money1. Kenny Perry 11 $1,499,5502. Bernhard Langer* 14 $1,303,7783. David Frost 13 $1,177,5304. Fred Couples* 8 $965,4815. Michael Allen 14...

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  • Annika Sorenstam played at Interlachen in 2008.

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