3M Open will be played over 4th of July weekend in Blaine next year
Break out the red, white and birdies.
Following months of speculation and guessing, the PGA Tour on Tuesday officially released the 2018-19 wraparound schedule. The inaugural 3M Open at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine will be played July 4-7, taking over for the just-completed A Military Tribute at Greenbriar. That tournament, held in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va., since 2012, shifts to the fall schedule in 2019.
A holiday date at a brand-new Tour course two weeks before a major in this case, next years British Open wont be the most popular destination for PGA Tour pros. And by this time in the golf season most top European players are already in the UK reacclimating to links golf conditions in the Irish Open and Scottish Open.
But history shows its not likely to be a no-name event, either.
When Tiger Woods ATT National tournament was played July 4th week at Congressional near Washington D.C. from 2009-11, he was able to draw all of golfs big names, including Woods himself winning the first year.
Woods and Phil Mickelson were part of the Greenbriars first holiday field in 2012, though both missed the cut. Woods returned in 2015 while Mickelson has been a mainstay ever since. Major champions Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson and Patrick Reed have made regular appearances.
This year, eight of the top 50 players in the Official World Golf Rankings entered the field: Watson (12) Mickelson (20), Simpson (21), Xander Schauffele (24), Brian Harman (26), Tony Finau (31), Kevin Kisner (33) and Russell Henley (46).
It should be noted that Mickelson is a national spokesman for the Greenbriar, and Watson is a Greenbriar resident.
The 3M Open should also be part of the 2019 Open Qualifying Series, in which a select number of British Open invites are available at events around the world for golfers not already exempt. The top four finishers at the Greenbriar last week not already with an international plane ticket in hand earned a tee time at Carnoustie.
The total purse of the Greenbriar has risen from $6.1 million in 2012 to $7.3 million last week. The 2016 tournament was canceled because of severe flooding.
The 3M Open will have a purse of $6.6 million next July. Pro Links Sports executive director Hollis Cavner, who will oversee the tournament, said that amount will rise throughout the seven-year agreement between 3M and the PGA Tour.
But more than money, Cavner said, players want to go to a place they feel comfortable and are treated well.
Minnesotas reputation as a strong, smart golf locale with two majors and a Ryder Cup since 2002 may go a long way in drawing names next summer before they head overseas.
Cavner is no stranger to the golfing community. He runs two other events on the PGA Tour and three on PGA Champions Tour, including the 3M Championship, which will conduct its 26th and final tournament in Blaine next month.
His corporate office is a long iron away from the golf hotbed of Jupiter, Florida, where many pros call home.
The Tour doesnt want to go anywhere its not going to be successful, Cavner said last month when the 3M Open officially became a PGA Tour event. They told us the criteria, and we hit every box. Its going to be phenomenal.