By Hennessey / Powers
Matthew Wolff. Photo by Golffile
If you’re not betting the 3M Open, you’re either broke from your Open losses or not big enough of a golf degenerate (there's no shame either way).
Though most of the experts in this column were on Jordan Spieth last week, we did have Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports on Collin Morikawa (40-1). So we’re not all completely broke. But most of us are golf-betting junkies—and we ain’t taking a week off.
The 3M Open is in just its third year on the PGA Tour, but it delivered one of the most exciting finishes of 2019 with Matthew Wolff edging out Collin Morikawa and Bryson DeChambeau with a birdie hole-out on the 72nd hole. And though the names weren’t as good, Michael Thompson’s bunker shot at the third-to-last hole was one of the most clutch we saw last season. The field isn’t great again this week, but this course should produce another memorable finish with lots of birdies.
Our Golf Digest betting panel—which consists of a caddie giving their insights each week—has now hit nine of the past 21 winners correctly. If you’re following our picks, you’re up money over the past six months. Though the majors are done for the year, there are still a number of events we’re betting … so join us, fellow betting degenerates!
Read on for this week’s analysis—including from our caddie, who clearly has great vibes about Wolff finding the winner’s circle again at TPC Twin Cities.
3M Open 2021 picks: Our Experts’ Outright Predictions
Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Matthew Wolff (30-1) — I don’t blame Matt for not wanting to make the journey to The Open. Players had so many restrictions—and we know Matt has struggled with tour life even when things were less strict. So he geared up back in Oklahoma to get ready for an event where he already won in 2019 and had a good finish last year. I'm hearing positive things from people around Wolff this week. At this price amongst some jet-lagged favorites, he’s got to be the bet.
Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Sergio Garcia (35-1) — The driving is there, the irons are there, short game is pretty irrelevant to the top of the leaderboard at TPC Twin Cities, so it’s all about the putting for Sergio. And it’s been a lot better lately. Still not good, but hopefully he can hit it close enough to make life easy on himself.
Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Tony Finau (16-1) — My model still likes Tony Finau because it’s based on long-term form. Eventually, he has to put it all together, and why not this week? The field is weak, and he has a 23rd and third at TPC Twin Cities in his career.
Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Bubba Watson (35-1) — Watson didn’t play the Open Championship last week, which could be seen as a positive—he doesn’t have to make the trip back to the states and should be well-rested. Last time we saw Watson, he finished T-6 at the Rocket Mortgage following up his T-19 at the Travelers. He’s gained strokes off-the-tee in seven consecutive measured events and has his game in great shape.
Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Bubba Watson (35-1) — Bubba’s playing great golf—his struggles on the back nine at the Travelers were shocking. His sizzling Sunday at the Rocket Mortgage showed he’s not slowing down. At a birdie-fest (he’s first in this field over the past 24 rounds per Fantasy National in Birdie or Better rate) and where you need to eat on the par 5s (he’s fourth in SG/par 5s in the past 24 rounds), you gotta love Bubba’s chances … and these odds seem more than fair.
Christopher Powers, Golf Digest assistant editor: Matthew Wolff (30-1) — I’ve been chasing the Wolff comeback win since Torrey Pines, and there is no way I’m stopping now at 3M, where he bagged career win No. 1 and then came back and tied for 12th in 2020. Great course history, solid form coming in, well-rested since he skipped the Open Championship. If the putter cooks, he’ll be there late Sunday afternoon.
Lee Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Patrick Reed (20-1) — Reed comes into this event with the most total strokes-gained over the last two years of anyone in the field. His short-term form is just as impressive, ranking fourth in the field for total strokes-gained over the last two months. Reed’s excellent putting on Bentgrass greens and razor sharp short game also means he ranks seventh in our Course Suitability Ranking this week so the course suits too.
3M Open 2021 picks: Sleepers/Dark Horses Who Could Win
Caddie: Tom Lewis (130-1) — This kid’s too talented not to have won out here yet. This is a deep number in a not-so-deep field. His off-the-tee game is his strength, which should give him some real chances into these par 5s.
Mayo: Jhonattan Vegas (60-1) — Vegas’ irons have been peaking as of late. He’s made seven straight cuts with three top-11 finishes in his last five starts, and this is the perfect course for him. A bounty of eagles to be had along with beaucoup birdies. All three of Vegas’ career wins have been in low scoring events like this.
Gdula: Chris Kirk (70-1) — Kirk rates out as one of the best tee-to-green golfers in this field once adjusted for field strength and recency over the past year in my database, and he’s a pretty strong birdie-maker, too.
Gehman: Mito Pereira (80-1) — Pereira made his PGA Tour debut at the Rocket Mortgage and missed the cut, but seems to have gotten more comfortable in every event since then. He finished T-34 at the John Deere and T-5 at the Barbasol last week. Per the RickRunGood.com golf database, he has gained 10.01 strokes off-the-tee and 5.59 strokes on approach in those two events. That’s great ball-striking for a golfer who has found the winner’s circle on the Korn Ferry Tour three times this year.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Troy Merritt (100-1) — It’s tough for me not to like Merritt this week. He came so close at Rocket Mortgage, another birdie-fest at a Midwest comp course. And his putter has been red-hot recently—he’s second in the past 24 rounds in SG/putting, with spike weeks of gaining more than 6.5 strokes/putting on three occasions since May, and he has four top-10s in that span. He has the seventh-place finish in 2019 in his home state … like I said, it’s tough for me not to love my Merritt bet this week.
Powers, Golf Digest: Cameron Champ (150-1) — Before each of his two PGA Tour victories, Champ gained at least 6.4 strokes off the tee and at least 5.1 strokes tee-to-green in his previous start, each of those weeks resulting in a top-30 finish. At the John Deere, Champ gained 5.5 strokes tee-to-green and 6.2 off-the-tee, finishing in 11th-place. What that tells me is that when he does figure it out tee-to-green, he’s usually on the verge of exploding, so long as the putter gets hot too. At 150-1, you’d be a fool to pass up on a guy with his firepower who has already won twice on tour and is coming off a strong performance in his last start.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Bo Hoag (130-1) — Hoag is playing some nice golf right now, ranking 22nd in the field for SG/total over the past two months, yielding two top-15 finishes for him. The reason Hoag should go even better this week is his course suitability. He ranks 19th in the FanShare Sports’ course-suitability ranking this week and ranks 10th for SG/total at Twin Cities (he finished 12th here in 2019).
3M Open 2021 picks: Players to Fade This Week (who will disappoint)
Caddie: Robert MacIntyre (28-1) — The young Scotsman has been impressive at the majors this year. But his high finish at The Open came via the back-door variety, and I heard some chatter about his putting at the Scottish Open costing him a chance at the title. At a birdie-fest, you’re going to need someone to catch fire with the putter—and that’s probably not MacIntyre.
Mayo: Louis Oosthuizen (11-1) — This isn’t a major. In fact, it’s about as far away from one as you can get.
Gdula: Dustin Johnson (13-2) — The lower scores go, the more golfers can contend, and that’s bad news for a heavy favorite. He could run away with this, sure, but the setup and scoring make it extra unlikely.
Gehman: Louis Oosthuizen (11-1) — Let’s be clear, Oosthuizen has been amazing this year —arguably one of the best players on tour. However, another draining week for Oosthuizen in England has me worried. Nearly going wire-to-wire and now making the trip back to the 3M Open doesn’t elicit a ton of confidence. On top of that, this is the shortest odds we’ve seen on Oosthuizen in recent memory. I’m willing to pass on Louis this week and catch back up with him in the playoffs.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Louis Oosthuizen (11-1) — Yes, this is a cop-out fade. But I’m doing this for the greater good of the public. Do not get suckered into this.
Powers, Golf Digest: Louis Oosthuizen (11-1) — The Louie checklist: 1.) Is it a major? No. 2.) Is the tournament being played in America? Yes. That’s it, that’s the checklist. Hard pass.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Matthew Wolff (30-1) — Wolff just has not been playing well enough to warrant this price. He comes into this event ranked just 76th in the field for Opportunities Gained over the past two months and just 59th in SG/total over the same period.