3M Championship notes: Sluman keeps streak going

  • Article by: BRIAN STENSAAS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 31, 2014 - 11:53 PM
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Jeff Sluman has played in every Champions Tour event since September 2010. “I love doing it, why not play?” Sluman said.

Photo: ELIZABETH FLORES • eflores@startribune.com,

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The Champions Tour events keep coming up on the calendar. And Jeff Sluman keeps showing up to compete.

“You can’t make any money sitting at home,” Sluman said.

Using that attitude, Sluman has entered every Champions Tour event since the 2010 SAS Championship. When he tees off Friday in the first round of the 3M Championship, it will make 95 consecutive tournaments.

“If you put it down on a piece of paper, I think there’d be a line from here to Chicago of people trying to get this job,” Sluman said. “You have an opportunity to make a really good living doing something you really enjoy. I love doing it, why not play?”

Not that Sluman would think of skipping a chance to play TPC Twin Cities after what he accomplished last summer. In the final round of the 3M, Sluman began his round with seven consecutive birdies en route to a 28 on the front nine. The 1988 PGA Championship winner eventually finished with a 62 and surged to a $140,000 payday, tying for second place with Corey Pavin.

“I love coming up here,” Sluman said. “There’s been a lot of rain [this summer] so it’s playing a hair longer this time. But I think things will be rolling in good ways again.

Putting guru

Stan Utley doesn’t get to play as much golf as he’d like. With a full short-game teaching schedule of PGA, LPGA and Champions Tour players to tend to, there simply isn’t enough daylight.

But he found time to enter this week’s 3M Championship qualifying event at Victory Links in Blaine, and made it through to this weekend’s field after a 4-under 67.

He’ll start at 10:50 a.m. Friday, just a few groups ahead of students Rocco Mediate and Jay Haas.

A professional player since 1984, Utley holds the PGA Tour record for fewest putts over nine holes. He needed just six in the second round of the 2002 Air Canada Championship.

Utley, though, sees the record with an asterisk.

“I like to put a funny twist on the whole thing,” he said. “I like to say I have the record for the most shots anybody’s hit from off the green for an under-par nine.”

In those first nine holes Utley chipped in from sand traps twice, rolled a putt from off the green on another, and on No. 8 one-putted for double-bogey.

On the par-3 ninth, he hit a fairway wood to 5 feet and nervously made his sixth putt of the day for a 1-under start to the round.

“It’s fun on the résumé for a short game coach,” he said.

He did it again

A year after chalking up the long Chicago-to-Minneapolis rental car ride to get to the 3M Championship as a mistake in map reading, Colin Montgomerie set up his itinerary the same way this week.

“I guess I didn’t learn,” he said. “The older I get, the stupider I get apparently.”

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