BLAINE, Minn. -- Tournament founder Hollis Cavner said what he wanted out of the 3M Open this week was lots of birdies and train wrecks.
Birdies have come by the bushel, and some of golf’s biggest names — Phil Mickelson and Brooks Koepka, to name two — provided spectacular train wrecks on the par-5 18th hole earlier in the week.
Meanwhile, the par-4 seventh hole provided little excitement through the tournament’s first two rounds. Playing from the back tees at about 380 yards on Thursday and Friday, action on the heavily bunkered hole was sleepy, at best. Driver, wedge, then a putt or two.
That changed on Saturday when PGA Tour officials moved the tee way up so that the hole played just 291 yards. That meant pretty much every player tried to drive the green. And that made for spectacular scoring that affected the leader board.
Of players in the top 20 (including ties), 14 made birdie, eight made par and one made bogey (Adam Hadwin).
That doesn’t even count 60-year-old Minnesotan Tom Lehman, who made an eagle 2 on the hole. He finished the day tied for 27th.
“I think (playing partners Matthew Wolff and Sebastian Munoz) were hitting, like, rescues and 3-woods (off the tee), and I just hammered a driver and I was still short of the green, and they were both over,” Lehman said.
Lehman chipped in. Wolff and Munoz both got up and down for birdie.
Merritt on the move
Another player with local ties, Troy Merritt, 33, a graduate of Spring Lake Park High School who played two years of college golf at Winona State, shot 66 on Saturday to move into a three-way tie for sixth at 13-under 200.
He is a two-time winner on the PGA Tour who lives now in Meridian, Idaho. He’s having a fun week back in Minnesota.
“I could see some family and friends and got to see a Twins game,” he said. “Haven’t been down to Target Field since they opened almost 10 years ago. Things have changed a little bit since I was around here.”
Danielson's big finish
Charlie Danielson of Osceola, Wis., just northeast the Twin Cities, finished strong Saturday, making five straight birdies on holes 4-8 to shoot a 29 on his second nine of the day. His 65 moved him into a tie for 17th at 10 under par.
Danielson, 25, playing on a sponsor’s exemption this week, is showing he belongs on the PGA Tour. Playing various mini-tours after a couple of injuries slowed his progress, he tied for 58th at 5 over par at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach last month.
After playing threesomes off both No. 1 and 10 tees on Saturday, play will be twosomes on Sunday, all off No. 1, starting at 7:05 a.m. The final twosome of Matthew Wolff and Collin Morikawa will tee off at 1 p.m. … Wolff, 20, and Morikawa, 22, have played against each other since their junior golf and high school days in the Los Angeles area. … Tom Hoge, a two-time Minnesota state amateur champion from Fargo, N.D., is tied for 27th at 204. His 65 on Saturday moved him up 43 spots on the leader board. … The field was trimmed from 85 players on Saturday to 73 for Sunday’s final round. Finishing at 4 under through 54 holes got you a ticket home.