Sobel’s 3M Open Matchup Preview: Viktor Hovland or Tony Finau?

Credit:

Viktor Hovland will try and earn his PGA Tour card over the next few weeks. Credit: Brian Spurlock, USA Today Sports.

  • The 2019 3M Open begins on Thursday morning at TPC Twin Cities in Minnesota.
  • Jason Sobel previews three matchups, including Viktor Hovland vs. Tony Finau.

Admit it: You’re a little scared this week.

Just days removed from the world’s 353rd-ranked player getting into the Rocket Mortgage Classic field on Wednesday afternoon, then winning on Sunday, I can’t blame you for being a little gun-shy to make a few outright wagers for this week’s 3M Open.

If you’re looking to make some bets, but you’re wary of another longshot champion, head-to-head matchups are a good way of dipping your toe into the water without going full belly-flop.

Here are my three favorite ones for this week:

Viktor Hovland (+105) over Tony Finau

If I’d told you just a few months ago that everybody’s Next Breakout Star on the PGA Tour would only be a slight favorite in a matchup against a kid with no status playing in his third event as a pro, you would’ve thrown money at Finau without thinking twice.

Well, times have changed in the past few months and now it’s Hovland who appears ready to break out. The low-amateur at both the Masters and U.S. Open, he finished T-54 in his pro debut at the Travelers Championship, then T-13 last week at the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

Unless he’s completely wiped from such a lengthy stretch of golf, I absolutely love Hovland in the underdog role here. Finau seemed to be turning a corner with a runner-up result at the Charles Schwab Challenge, but he’s since missed the cut in three straight, making him a nice target to wager against in this matchup.

Jason Day (-105) over Brooks Koepka

Nobody let Koepka see this, because he tends to develop a chip on his shoulder and play even better when he feels he’s being disrespected, but this should be a really nice spot for Day to cash.

As we saw in Canada and again in Connecticut – Koepka’s two most recent non-major starts – he just doesn’t seem to have that fire in his belly when it’s not one of the biggest events. (He also doesn’t seem to have much of a belly, but that’s besides the point.) I just can’t foresee Koepka using this week as anything but an extra rep before heading over to play Royal Portrush in two weeks. It’s hard to imagine he’ll be motivated for Minnesota.

Day, on the other hand, has plenty to play for. In two starts with Steve Williams on the bag, he’s finished T-21, then T-8. Trending in the right direction, huh? He’s dropped to 18th in the world, without a win in the last 14 months. Quite simply, this means more to him than it does to Koepka – which is exactly why I like him to smash this spot.

Mackenzie Hughes (-110) over Martin Laird

As I wrote in my tournament preview, here are Hughes’ scores in the opening rounds of his last five starts: 66-64-66-68-67. Another low one should at least get him to the weekend, which could be enough to win this matchup.

Laird has played decent golf lately, though nothing special, with five of his last six results between 21st and 50th place on the leaderboard. He’s not immune to missing cuts, though, having failed to reach the weekend a half-dozen times this year.

My favorite matchup bets are the ones which pay out on Friday afternoon. In this one, I think we’ve got two chances: Hughes getting off to a hot start and Laird MCing, or Hughes simply beating him during the weekend rounds. At -110, I like those chances.

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