A weather front passed through sweltering TPC Twin Cities on Saturday, lowering the dew point, dialing up a gusting northerly wind and jamming the 3M Open leaderboard with contenders galore.
By evening's light, 20 players — including four past major champions — were within four strokes of third-round leader Cameron Tringale, who tied for third last summer in Blaine.
Promising young star Maverick McNealy and 2019 U.S. Open champ Gary Woodland were one shot behind Tringale.
Former Honda Classic winner Keith Mitchell birdied his first seven holes — tying a tour record for most birdies to start a round — in Saturday's morning calm, and Woodland himself followed an opening double bogey by making birdie on five of his next six holes.
"It was gettable early," veteran tour pro Pat Perez said.
Perez shot a front-nine 31 that included four birdies. He was tied for fourth, two shots behind Tringale.
Then the wind turned blustery and unfamiliar compared with previous tournament and practice days. Mitchell's seven birdies "absolutely" had him considering a 59 before two back-side bogeys gave him a 5-under 66 that left him four shots from the lead.
He was asked if he could get his head around a round so dissimilar between its two nines.
"You can't, it's impossible," Mitchell said.
Player after player did all he could just to hold on coming home, particularly down a watery finish with the No. 17 and No. 18 holes that turned dangerous in the afternoon winds.
South Korea's Sung Kang hit four balls in the water on the 18th and made a 12 for a 6-over 77. Rickie Fowler led for a time Saturday, but a triple-bogey 8 there dropped him six shots off the lead despite a 70. Second-round co-leader Adam Hadwin made 7 to finish with a 73 that left him four shots back.
Tied for third after Friday's second round, Bo Hoag removed his shoes and stepped barefooted into shallow water landscaped with boulders greenside before he splashed the ball just from the hazard. He made a bogey 6 for an 1-over 72.
"Just trying to get something out," Hoag said.
On Saturday, the par-5 18th played not only as the course's most difficult hole but statistically the hardest of any hole on the PGA Tour this season. Not a single eagle and only 12 birdies were made there on Saturday; there were 67 birdies there in Thursday's opening round.
There were eight triple bogeys or worse Saturday, and 25 balls ended up in the water on a day when the pin was placed short and right, very near the water.
"If guys are going for it and get within 10 feet, I want to see that highlight reel because it's really hard to get it close," said young two-time PGA Tour winner Cameron Champ, whose Saturday 67 puts him two shots back. "It's just a great finishing hole."
Woodland made par at the 18th to preserve a 67, but he made an adventure of it. He drove his tee shot 70 yards right of the fairway's middle, over a finger of water and onto a spit of land just in front of a security fence.
CBS' blimp camera followed the wayward shot expertly from above. Then it captured his walk through a dusty parking lot, a very alternative route to the green.
"I got a shortcut, I guess," said Woodland, who called himself pleased with rounds of 67 Saturday and 66 Friday. "It was a good break. It was unfortunate I hit it over there, but happy walking away with par after that."
Tringale shot a Sunday 66 at last summer's 3M Open played without spectators because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He finished in a nine-way tie for third place, a shot behind Adam Long and three shots behind winner Michael Thompson.
"I birdied 18 last year, I remember that," said Tringale, who's safely in the FedExCup points race at 39th place. "I remember last year's round really well and I'm excited. I feel like I'm doing everything well in my game for the most part. So just keep my head."
Tringale calls Sunday's final round "anyone's game, really," depending upon how hard the wind blows and from what direction.
Perez said, "I'd go to Vegas and play the sports book" if he knew what Sunday will bring with such a packed leaderboard sprinkled with major champions. Included are Woodland, Jimmy Walker, Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen.
Mitchell predicts the 3M Open's final round will bring this:
"A lot of fun," he said. "There's going to be a lot of guys within four shots of the lead. A course like this, you have the opportunity to make seven birdies in a row or it plays really tough. It really gives guys a lot of opportunities tomorrow."