|3M Championship Preview - Anything Can Happen, And Usually Does|
By Jim McNaneyIf the 2016 3M Championship, contested at the TPC Twin Cities August 1-7, is anything like the last few years, expect anything and everything to happen.
The 24th edition of this PGA TOUR Champions Tour stop is one of the most anticipated in years. It is more than an appetizer for the Ryder Cup for Minnesota golf fans. It is a championship that has provided Hall of Fame fields, historic rounds and thrilling finishes. If that wasn't enough, The Post-It Products Greats of Golf is back to show young and old how good some of the game's greatest legends still are.
Jack Is Back
Once again, Jack Nicklaus leads a star-studded line up of World Golf Hall of Fame members and major championship winners for the Greats of Golf Scramble on Saturday, August 6th. This exhibition event pits stars from both the men's and women's game after the championship play goes off in the morning. Don't let the word "exhibition" fool you. While most of the event is full of fun and laughter; in the end, the competitive juices start to flow and the desire to win takes over.
In 2015, the group of Tom Weiskopf, Johnny Miller and Dave Stockton was one stroke ahead of the group of Lee Trevino, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player standing on the 18th tee. After a mammoth drive by Weiskopf, the group was interrupted by the cheers of the Nicklaus group sinking a birdie on the 17th hole. The Weiskopf group reached the par 5 18th in two and had a good look at an eagle.
Meanwhile, back on the tee, the first thing Player, Nicklaus and Trevino wanted to know was where they stood in the competition.
After Weiskopf, Miller and Stockton all missed the eagle attempt, all they could do was watch as Nicklaus hit his approach to 25 feet in two. That 25-foot putt had even Miller wondering if Jack "had another one in him."
While the Nicklaus team all made good runs at eagle, in the end, they settled for a birdie and the tie.
But don't think that the other groups are just for show. The LPGA Team of Pat Bradley, Nancy Lopez and Annika Sorenstam is looking to take the title. "Golf fans will get to witness world-class golf and are sure to be entertained by these legends of the game," said Jon Lindekugel, Senior Vice President of 3M Business Development and Marketing-Sales.
World Golf Hall of Fame member Hale Irwin will be back for his second year while Ben Crenshaw will be making his first appearance in the Greats of Golf.
If you plan on heading out to the course on Saturday to see the Greats of Golf, plan on arriving early. Historically, Saturday's crowds are the largest of the week. If you do head out early, you will be rewarded as many of the players in the Greats of Golf will be available for an autograph session starting at 9:30.
Fun Throughout The Week
Friday, Saturday and Sunday are not the only fun-filled days. There are Pro-Ams and practice rounds Monday through Thursday open to spectators. On Tuesday, August 2nd, Nancy Lopez will host a free clinic prior to the Accenture Executive Women's Pro-Am. The clinic will begin at 10:30 Tuesday morning and while most of the Pro-Am participants that day will be paired with a PGA TOUR Champions Professional, one lucky group will get to play with Lopez herself.
If you are looking for a real inside peek at how a tour professional prepares for their week, the practice round days are right up your alley.
A Championship Like No Other
Historically, the 3M Championship boasts one of the strongest fields on the PGA TOUR Champions circuit. This year will be no exception. Two-time defending champion Kenny Perry is back to attempt to make history again in Blaine. Last year, Perry became the first player in tournament history to successfully defend his title. This year he hopes to again put his name in the record books by winning for the third consecutive year.
As in the last few years, it won't be an easy hill to climb as two-time champion Bernhard Langer will no doubt make his presence known. In fact, the last two years it has been Langer that took Perry to the wire. In 2014, Perry had to make birdie on the final hole to secure the victory and, while last year it was not quite as dramatic, Perry again had to hold off a furious late charge by Langer for the victory.
Local favorites like Tom Lehman and Rocco Mediate will again be in the field along with Minnesota native and first time participant Lee Janzen. Perennial Ryder Cuppers from both sides of the pond like Jay Haas and Colin Montgomerie will also be competing. Looking for colorful characters to follow, Woody Austin and Jesper Parnevik will dazzle you with their play and keep you fully engaged with their personalities.
Speaking of personalities, two of the games greatest, PGA TOUR Champions rookie and two-time Major winner John Daly and European Ryder Cup stand out Miguel Angel Jimenez will make their first appearance at the 3M Championship.
Worth More Than The Price Of Admission
Another reason for the popularity of the 3M Championship is, once again, attendance and parking are FREE! The 3M was the first of its kind by making it free for all general admission tickets on both the practice round days AND the championship days. Remote parking is also free and a short shuttle bus ride drops you off right between the first tee, practice area and the exhibitors tent.
All For Charity
The PGA TOUR and PGA TOUR Champions events annually are some of the largest contributors to charities in the communities they play in. The 3M Championship is no exception. This year, the 3M Championship will donate $1.3 million in support of healthcare programs at Allina Health. This adds to the $24 million the 3M Championship has donated to charity since 1993.
The 3M Championship runs August 1-7. More information about the championship, events, parking and amenities can be found at www.3mchampionship.com. Follow the 3M Championship at facebook.com/3MChampionship and on Twitter at @3MChampionship.
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