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Not yet August and the Majors are done with.

As Brian Harman destroyed his Open championship rivals and gained entry into the next 25-plus, thoughts turned quickly to the 3M and Wyndham events.

No longer do the top-125 have time to get down to the 70, it’s ‘be there on August 6th’, or start grinding again. Even Rory McIlroy, hugely under-whelmed by his efforts at Hoylake, said straight away that it’s forget and move quickly onwards:


“I think about trying to go and win a fourth FedExCup here in a couple weeks’ time, go try and win a fifth Race to Dubai, go and win a fifth Ryder Cup. I just keep looking forward.”


Guess we better do that, too.

An initial look at previous Twin Cities champions gives the impression that bombers will succeed. Not so, as both Matt Wolff and Cameron Champ clubbed down to win in 2019 and 2021, and in between Michael Thompson used hot irons and putting to cause a shock. That’s not to say it doesn’t work – shortening approaches will always help – and whilst Tony Finau, Emiliano Grillo and Sungjae Im, the first three last year, ranked highly off-the-tee, it was more the overall positioning of their drives, rather than length that did the job.

With 7400-yards of water-laden parkland to navigate, far more emphasis should be put on total driving (using whatever combination) and a hot set of shorter clubs. Four of last year’s top-five finished ranked top four for tee-to-green, and it’s a similar story down the field.

Favourite Tony Finau came off a 13th at the Travelers and top-30 at St. Andrews before winning here last year, but has missed the cut on his last two outings, whilst Sungjae Im has won just a minor home event since the Shriners in October 2021. Their efforts at the Rocket Mortgage and Honda Classic read nicely and, if forced to pick, it would be Finau, but I can leave both alone.

Cameron Young is much tougher to leave out after top-10 finishes at the John Deere, another correlating track, and at Hoylake, but that final missed three-footer leaves a nasty taste coming to an event that will require the flat stick to behave, whilst even if Deki Matsuyama and Justin Thomas look like they are getting there, I’m not fussed at the prices.

A year ago, we may have been surprised that Emiliano Grillo and Sepp Straka are priced not far behind those major winners but it’s perfectly understandable now and the Austrian is only narrowly preferred.

Both were excellent in their vain chase behind Harman on Sunday, but it’s the 30-year-old who is taken to continue a rich run of form, a perfect illustration of a golfer considered at his peak when starting their third decade.

Form-wise, Straka is a stand out.

Winner of the 2022 Honda Classic, an event won by Thompson and Sungjae, two starts ago he shot rounds of 63/65/62 to win at Deere Run, a course that not only throws up contenders in this event’s brief history but also for The Open itself.

Only last season, Straka lost a play-off to sadly-injured Will Zalatoris at St. Jude, beating Harman into third place and Finau and Collin Morikawa into fifth. The latter tied-second with DeChambeau behind Wolff at the inaugural running here and Straka went on to be inside the top six in the lucrative finale.

That’s the form, but the main selection also ranks top-20 for total driving over the season, top-15 for approaches, 40th for proximity, top-30 for approaches from 150-200 yards and 36th for total putting.

That’s a long period but much of his best stuff has been gained recently, putting up solid numbers for tee-to-green and putting at the Memorial, John Deere and last week.

In three outings around this TPC track, he’s missed the cut twice but put up a pair of 68’s to show this place isn’t out of his comfort zone and, in between, flew through the field in 2020 with a final round 63, the joint best of the day, to finish 18th.

He’s as safe as houses for the play-offs and will want to give Luke Donald a headache when analysing his wild-card picks. In this form, the only answer is ‘yes’.

I’m gutted to have missed Akshay Bhatia’s win at the Barracuda last week, and wouldn’t want to miss the maiden win of either Sahith Theegala or Ludvig Aberg. Both seem to be priced about right for now, though, so I’ll turn to another maiden at a much bigger price.

24-year-old Davis Thompson hasn’t kicked on in the style expected of this former number one amateur, but recent events suggest he is quietly rounding into form and he could very well replicate the Matt Wolff-style win to break his maiden.

Eye-catching in making seven cuts from 13 starts when not yet a full member of the PGA Tour, his early PGA Tour career saw him make four cuts, with a best of ninth and 12th at the Fortinet and Shriners, respectively.

2023 hasn’t seen the same success but it’s just a few months since leading for three rounds of the elevated American Express before finishing a one-shot runner-up to to Jon Rahm, and sitting inside the top-25 after round one at The Players, at the halfway stage at Harbour Town and after the first 18 at Quail Hollow.

Missing the cut at the US Open may have been expected but only after acceptable rounds of 72 and 71, whilst he was inside the top-30 after day one of the Travelers.

Those sporadic efforts finally translated into something more profitable over the last two tournaments, finishing a closing 25th at the Rocket Mortgage and 31st at the John Deere, the latter having sat 16th going into Sunday.

The selection is still very green and uses his enormous length to rank 23rd off-the-tee, 11th in going-for-the-green, eighth in total eagles, fifth in par-5 performance and 11th in par-5 birdie-or-better.

It’s not exactly disguised and he’ll need things to drop right, but he fits the profile of an improving type that just might start justifying the hype now the hype has all but transferred onto the likes of Aberg and pals.

Others to catch the eye were Chez Reavie, who likes it here and is quality with his longer irons, and enormous driver MJ Daffue, going for his sixth consecutive top 40.

Indeed it is the South African powerhouse that gets the vote in the top-20 market after a recent 24th at the Rocket Mortgage, 35th at Deere Run and 16th and 34th across the two alternate events, Barbasol and Barracuda, all finishes that could have been better given his position at points throughout each event.

Another whose strength off the tee may need to be toned down a tad, he is recovering his loose irons with some excellent putting (ranked 24/8/14/20 for the short stick across his most recent starts) and was an encouraging 51st on debut here.

Texas, Valspar, Rocket Mortgage and Bahamas form suggest no problem with conditions here – I’ll take the chance he can record another improved finish.

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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