Minnesota will get an annual PGA Tour event starting in 2019 if Houston can't come up with new sponsorship by June 1, said longtime 3M Championship tournament director Hollis Cavner, confirming reporting from John Feinstein of Golf Digest.
"There's more than one path to us getting a PGA Tour event in 2019, but the one of least resistance is Houston falling off the tour," Cavner said. "We're just waiting for June 1. If Houston drops off, then we'll be playing a PGA Tour event [at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine] the week before the 2019 U.S. Open. We're ready."
If Houston drops off, 3M would be the title sponsor for a new Twin Cities tour stop that would begin play June 6-9, 2019. The 3M Championship — a Champions Tour event that's been played here since 1993 — would be discontinued, Cavner said.
Houston has hosted a PGA event every year but one since 1946, but Shell Oil Co. dropped its sponsorship in 2017 after 26 seasons.
But according to Feinstein, the Houston Golf Association met with at least one potential title sponsor last week and believes it has a venue to continue the event.
Cavner, however, remains hopeful of landing a PGA Tour event even if Houston stays in the rotation. The 2019 schedule still has an open week in the fall.
"If Houston stays in, they could want that week in the fall," Cavner said. "And we could take the spot in June before the U.S. Open. Houston in June is not good. June here is great weather."
Having the week before the U.S. Open as a PGA Tour stop has its challenges, because most of the game's star players don't play the week before a major.
Last year's FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis featured only three of the top 20 players in the current World Golf Rankings. Daniel Berger won the tournament while big-name players such as Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia and Bubba Watson all took the week off.
"A PGA Tour event is roughly two to three times the size of what we do with a Champions Tour event," Cavner said. "The economic impact for the state, the hospitality, everything goes up dramatically. It's a game-changer."
The state hasn't hosted a regular tour stop for nearly 50 years. The St. Paul Open (later renamed the Minnesota Golf Classic for its final four years) was played mostly at Keller Golf Course for four decades, ending in 1969.
If the Twin Cities once again ends up with a tour stop, it would be a long-term deal, Cavner said.
"You don't do anything with the tour unless it's long-term," he said. "It would be a minimum of five years. We're hopeful. We could find out as early as June 1."