Then there were two top-25 players left in the 3M Open field after No. 14 Hideki Matsuyama hit three balls in the water, made a nine on No. 18 and withdrew nine holes after that, citing a sore wrist.
The two remaining at the TPC Twin Cities were 24th-ranked Sungjae Im and No. 17 Tony Finau. Both were on the leaderboard's first page after a blustery summer day that favored those who played in Thursday morning's comparatively calm conditions.
Im was tied with PGA Tour veteran Scott Piercy for the lead after each shot 6-under-par 65.
Finau, Fargo's Tom Hoge and three others were two shots back after they all shot 67. Defending champ Cameron Champ shot a 75 that included a closing bogey and Matsuyama, who played the back nine first, shot 77 before he withdrew.
A two-time PGA Tour winner and 2020 Masters runner-up, Im sent a video to his coach after he struggled on the greens in recent weeks, including Sunday's 81st-place finish at the British Open.
Together, they adjusted Im's takeaway with his putter, straightening his backswing and squaring the clubface.
He made seven birdies and 140 feet of putts on the same morning Piercy holed 151 feet of putts himself.
"I make a change," Im said through a Korean interpreter. "I had a lot of birdie chances, and I make them."
Change was a theme as well for Piercy, who was the 3M Open's first-round leader on its first day in 2019 after he shot a tournament-record 62 that hasn't been surpassed.
Seeking to shake up his season and reach the FedEx Cup playoffs, Piercy added a new swing coach, caddie, putter and driver all in the past two weeks. All of it helped summon that morning 65 on a day when the scores and gusting winds both went higher in the afternoon. Thursday saw the highest scoring average (72.78) in 13 rounds of 3M Open history.
"Sometimes you've just got to make a change to get better," said Piercy, currently ranked 297th in the world. "And I don't like to change. So for me to have all these changes is a good thing. It's a little bit scary, but I feel comfortable with it."
Hoge shook off a four-putt bogey at that watery par-five 18th that was his ninth hole on Thursday. He played in the wind with both Matsuyama and Im, who made a par there despite hitting into the water.
"It helps having played in a lot of wind growing up here and Fargo a few hours away," Hoge said.
Hoge is something of an honorary Minnesotan, for all the amateur golf he played here.
Finau considers himself something of one, too, at least for a week in July every year.
He is the only top 25-ranked player who has played in all four 3M Opens. On Thursday, he bogeyed his first hole and then didn't do so again.
"I love it here," Finau said. "Minneapolis is a great place. I have a lot of first and second cousins here. I like the golf course, great fans and great food. It's a hard place to beat. I'm far from a fisherman, but it's the one time of year I know I'm going to go fishing on the lakes out there."
He has finished top 10 at a major championship 10 times, and won twice on the PGA Tour. He has made the cut at all three 3M Opens he has played, finishing tied for 23rd in 2019, tied for third in 2020 and tied for 28th last year.
He's in contention once again, despite Thursday's opening bogey and gusting wind.
"I played really nicely," Finau said. "It was pretty tricky. There was enough wind up there to kind of affect every shot, putting and hitting. But I steadied the ship pretty good. It's a short night on days like today. I'm looking forward to get some rest and get back at it tomorrow."