Last July, PGA Tour rookie Matthew Wolff walked off TPC Twin Cities 18th green after he made a thunderous 26-foot eagle putt on the final hole to win the inaugural 3M Open, and more than $1 million.
On Sunday, he walked away in silence with a bogey 6, tied for 12th place and $127,050. A Sunday 67 left him five shots behind winner Michael Thompson.
“It’s a tough way to finish,” Wolff said. “I felt like I played really well today. I honestly should have made a lot more putts. I hit a bunch of good ones. That last hole just got a funky number.”
He lipped out makeable birdie putts at holes 9 and 10 and just missed another at 11. He said he had similar putts at No. 6 and 8 as well while playing his seventh consecutive tournament since the PGA Tour restarted after his three-month pandemic pause.
“I really like this course,” Wolff said. “I love this place. You know, the volunteers, everyone. Everyone who put helped to put this tournament on, thank you.”
If he had successfully defended his title, Wolff would have been the first player since Daniel Berger in Memphis 2016 and ’17 to win his first two tour titles at the same event.
He can go low
In 2019, rookie Adam Long shot a final-round 65 to win the Desert Classic by one shot over Phil Mickelson and Adam Hadwin. It was his first victory in his sixth career start.
On Friday, he was outside the cut line late in the day but made two important putts to reach the weekend. Then he closed 63-64 over the weekend to earn his second runner-up finish this season. At 17 under par, he finished two shots behind Thompson.
“I didn’t think then that I was going to have a chance to win, certainly,” said Long, who earned a place in September’s U.S. Open for a top-two finish. “But I knew my game’s been pretty good lately. I’ve been playing some good golf, better than I’ve been able to show for it.”
Three-time PGA Tour winner and 20-year pro Charles Howell III tied for third and finished three shots back after a 6-under 65. He birdied two of his final three holes but left an eagle putt that would have tied Thompson at the time just short on No. 18.
It’s his 96th top-10 career finish in his 569th start. He moved to 54th in the FedExCup standings and has finished in the top 10 all 14 seasons it has been around. He missed the cut twice in five events back from the coronavirus break.
“It’s just been weird since we’ve come back from this thing,” he said. “I know the whole world wants to get back to normal or as close as we can come to normal. We’re just lucky to be playing golf. … Nice to finally have a nice week coming back from this stuff.”
Then and now
Fargo’s Tom Hoge played a U.S. Open qualifier at TPC Twin Cities when he was in high school, but it’s not the same now. He shot 70 for the second day in a row and finished tied for 46th at 8 under.
“The course has changed so much,” he said about a redesign directed by Tom Lehman. “They made it a lot tougher and a lot better test, for sure.”
He said it
Thompson, after a long bunker shot at No.16 helped ensure his title in a big way: “I love bunkers. When I was a kid [in Tucson, Ariz.], I would go sit in a bunker for a couple hours after I got home from school and just hit shots. I have really good feel and visual for how I want the shot to come off. For that to happen on the 70th hole, it was perfect timing.”
• Tour officials moved up Sunday tee times and reconfigured pairings to threesomes that teed off on the first and 10th tees as a precaution against weather delays. The first players went off at 9:59 a.m. and the leaders teed off at noon. They did the same on Saturday.
• Tournament executive director Hollis Cavner leased PGA Tour Champions player Mark Calcavecchia’s luxury tour bus and drove it with an overnight stop in Paducah, Ky., from Florida to Blaine. He parked it there for two weeks on site, with no need to risk viral infection on commercial flights or in hotels.