3M Open Expert Picks: Our Staff’s Favorite Picks at TPC Twin Cities
Bill Streicher, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Brooks Koepka
- The 2019 3M Open begins on Thursday morning at TPC Twin Cities in Minnesota.
- Our experts detail their favorite bets for this weekend's tournament, including how to play Brooks Koepka.
The PGA Tour heads to TPC Twin Cities in Blaine, Minnesota for this weekend’s 3M Open.
The event features a relatively weak field headlined by Brooks Koepka, the clear betting favorite at 8-1. Koepka is the only golfer listed in the single digits at the Westgate SuperBook but he’s got company near the top of the board. Jason Day and Hideki Matsuyama are both sitting at 10-1 with Bryson DeChambeau at 14-1.
With such a top-heavy field playing in what is essentially a tune-up for the rapidly approaching British Open there are plenty of longshots in play.
Here are our staff’s favorite bets for the 2019 3M Open.
The Bet: Fade Brooks Koepka (8-1)
There’s one good reason for fading the favorite here: This isn’t a major championship.
I’ve written previously that there might be a point when Koepka develops a peculiar reputation as a guy who “can’t win the other ones” and then, playing with that preferred chip on his shoulder, decides to dedicate himself to winning non-majors and starts doing it.
Until that time, though, I just can’t imagine the four-time major champion will be too motivated to dominate the field in Minnesota, just as he wasn’t motivated to win in Connecticut or Canada before that.
When it comes to Koepka at a non-major, this is an easy red flag for me to avoid.
The Bet: Joaquin Niemann Top-20 Finish (+120)
Niemann is also on my outright card at +3300 as well and I think everything is really lining up for him to contend this week.
He’s found a good run of form with back-to-back top-5 finishes and in a weaker field like this, he’ll be among the most talented players.
Couple that with the lack of motivation that may hamper some of the favorites and this seems like an event he should be able to contend in.
Dr. Lou Riccio*
The Bet: Charles Howell III: Top-10 (+450)
Based on my model, which runs 10,000 simulations, I give Charles Howell III a 16-percent chance of finishing in the top 10 this week. At 4.5-to-1 on your money, you’re getting a discount on a quality player like CH3, which the oddsmakers are offering, based on his performance over the past couple of months.
After a successful, consistent winter he faltered in the spring, with an injury also being a factor, but we saw Howell III leaderboard last week at the Rocket Mortgage. He struggled on the weekend, but we saw his ball-striking stats return. We’re used to seeing Howell around the top-10—I like his chances of doing so again this week.
Dr. Lou Riccio, a PhD senior lecturer, teaches rational decision making at Columbia’s Graduate School of Business and has served on the USGA’s handicap research team for three decades. More of his predictive analysis can be found over at Golf Digest.
The Bet: Rory Sabbatini (-115) over Sung-jae Im
In a vacuum, I like Im this week, but I have a hard time overlooking Sabbatini in this spot when his form is incredible. I expect the 3M Open to play as another birdie fest, although maybe not as extreme as the Rocket Mortgage Classic last week.
So, I’ll continue to chase Sabbatini while his form is this good. Per the FantasyLabs Player Models, he leads Im in two of the main metrics I am looking at:
- Recent Adjusted Round Score: 68.1 vs. 69.3
- Birdies per tournament: 16.8 vs. 14.4
Overall, Sabbatini has been better by 1.2 strokes per round over the past six weeks. He also has the edge in other metrics.
All of the par 5s at TPC Twin Cities are playing around 590 yards, and over their last 24 rounds, Sabbatini ranks 17th in par-5 efficiency from such ranges, compared to 40th for Im, respectively, per Fantasy National.
Perhaps the biggest selling point for me is the fact that Sabbatini is just striking the ball better than Im right now, and it’s not that close. Over their last 24 rounds:
- Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green: 3rd vs. 59th
- Strokes Gained: Ball Striking: 3rd vs. 85th
- Strokes Gained: Approach: 21st vs. 109th
While Im has gone 27th, 27th, 7th over his last three tournaments, two of those tournaments he gained more than 5.5 strokes putting, while either losing or barely gaining strokes on approach.
I’ll back the guy who is striking it quite a bit better at the moment.