Sunday wrapped the first PGA Tour event in Minnesota in nearly 50 years. Four players with local ties made the 3M Open cut, and the sentiment afterwards was unanimous.
Gosh, it’s nice to come home.
The large crowds gathered around TPC Twin Cities’ closing 18th hole warmly welcomed 60-year-old Tom Lehman up the fairway and onto the green. That’s where he made a 3 1/2-foot birdie putt to finish 2-over for the day and 7-under for the tournament, a tie for 58th place. He shot 67-69-68 the first three days.
“I was so happy to hit it close and make a birdie,” said Lehman, whose 16-year-old son Sean carried his bag all week. “I was thinking this could very well be my last tournament ever in Minnesota. More than likely it is and so to finish with a birdie was nice.”
Merritt goes long, comes up short
Spring Lake Park graduate Troy Merritt sandwiched three birdies around two bogeys on the front nine and looked to be losing steam in the final round. With the leaders creeping into the upper teens under par Merritt needed something big and he got it in a big way. He drained a birdie putt on No. 16 measuring 52 feet, 7 inches.
According to the PGA Tour, that’s the second-longest putt of his career, behind a bomb of 74 feet, 7 inches in the final round of the 2011 Houston Open.
“I told [my caddie] we hadn’t made anything; I wasn’t expecting that,” Merritt said. “It was nice to hear the roar. People love their golf up here in Minnesota and I think the tour is starting to figure that out.”
That putt got Merritt to give a thumbs-up to the crowd and reach16 under, at the time one back of the lead. But a pair of pars kept him at that number while Matthew Wolff went on to win at 21 under.
Merritt finished tied for seventh, his best finish since a tie for fourth at the Safeway Open during the PGA Tour fall swing. “I wanted to get to 20 under,” Merritt said. “Just had to make a couple more there, but all in all it was a good week for us.”
Hoge's hot finish
Fargo’s Tom Hoge’s carded a 67 and the 13-under-par total score was good for a T23 finish, his best in 2019 and his most satisfying since a tie for 30th at the Players Championship in March.
All that for a guy who only made the cut Friday when Cameron Davis triple-bogeyed his final hole at day’s end to move the cut line.
“I played pretty well this weekend,” said Hoge, who shot 65 on Saturday. “It really didn’t look like I was going to make it. When you get those opportunities, you have to make the most of them. Fortunately, I did this weekend.”
He’s now headed for next week’s John Deere Classic and will play four more consecutive weeks in an attempt to make the FedExCup playoffs. But he won’t have the same fan support.
“Not quite Lumpy’s level,” he said, noting Tim Herron’s cadre of a crowd earlier in the week. “But a good number drove down.”
Osceola, Wisconsin’s Charlie Danielson followed Saturday’s 64 with a 67 on Sunday, good for a for 15th place tie and a $106,032.50 payday. That’s his best PGA Tour finish.
It follows his 58th-place tie at last month’s U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.
“It’s not about the money,” he said. “It’s about the experience and it’s about gaining as many FedExCup points in case I have another good week or two out here the rest of the summer.”
Danielson, 25, plans to play the Barracuda Championship in Reno, Nev., in three weeks. He might play on the Canadian tour this next week or try some upcoming PGA Tour Monday qualifiers. There’s also a long shot he’ll get invited to play in this week’s John Deere.
“I’ve just got a lot to figure out,” he said.