PGA returns to Minnesota
By Mike Cook
BLAINE, Minn. (AP) — The PGA Tour will soon be making a regular stop in Minnesota.
Long host to the 3M Championship, a thriving tournament on the senior circuit, the TPC Twin Cities course in suburban Minneapolis has landed a spot on the main PGA Tour with a seven-year contract starting in 2019. The event will be called the 3M Open, officials announced on Monday.
“Minnesota has showcased how good golf is here,” said Hollis Cavner, executive director of Pro Links Sports, which will manage the 3M Open. “It’s time to go to the next level.”
The 2019 dates for the 3M Open will not be confirmed until next month when the PGA Tour reveals its full schedule for the next FedEx Cup season, but there will be an opening in the first week in July. The purse is expected to begin in the $7 million range.
Minnesota has hosted the 3M Championship on the PGA Tour Champions since 2001 and a senior tour event since 1993. The final such tournament will take place Aug. 3-5, with Paul Goydos as the defending champion.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to build on the success we’ve had,” said Paul Keel, a 3M senior vice president.
Cavner said the economic impact on the region is expected to be between $50 million and $75 million for the entire week of the 3M Open in Blaine, which is about 20 miles north of downtown Minneapolis.
Though Minnesota has not been home to a regular PGA Tour event since 1969, the state has had some of the game’s grandest events held within its borders, most recently the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National in Chaska in 2016. The international competition is set to return there in 2028. Hazeltine also hosted the PGA Championship in 2009 and 2002 and the U.S. Open in 1991 and 1970.
Minnesota’s fervent support of the sport extends to the U.S. Women’s Open in 2008 and the Solheim Cup in 2002, both at Interlachen in Edina.
“The tour does not want to go anywhere where it’s not going to be successful. Look at how successful we’ve been on the Champions Tour. Look at how successful the PGA was, the Ryder Cup was,” Cavner said. “Seeing what’s happened here in the past was a big, big plus for us.”
Minnesota native Tom Lehman collaborated with Arnold Palmer in designing the TPC Twin Cities course, where players on the 50-and-older tour are regularly shooting deep in the teens below par to win the three-day event. Cavner expects tees to be moved back on the par-72, 7,164-yard course with many other improvements to be made in consultation with Lehman.
“We want to make sure the golf course is phenomenal,” Cavner said. “That’s what the players want.”
The PGA Tour found room on the schedule for the 3M Open when the Houston Open announced it was moving to the fall starting in 2019. That gives the PGA Tour two new markets next year that were not on the schedule this season. The tour previously announced that Quicken Loans would be the title sponsor of a new tournament in Detroit next year.
The 3M Championship has offered free admission for many years. Cavner said tickets for the PGA Tour event will be “reasonably priced” and children will be admitted free. He said many tour events charge in the $25 to $65 price range.
“I think we’ll be one of the biggest events on the tour within a couple years,” Cavner said.