Hollis Cavner confident 3M Open will have competitive field despite LIV Tour
MINNEAPOLIS - In about three weeks, some of the best golfers in the world will hit TPC Twin Cities in Blaine for the fourth-annual 3M Open.
It’s labeled as Minnesota’s golf event of the summer. Tournament officials hosted media day on Monday at the course, and Executive Tournament Director Hollis Cavner quickly addressed the elephant in the room that's challenging PGA Tour fields: The LIV Tour.
The new Saudi-backed golf tour has attracted some of the game’s best players, including Dustin Johnson and Louis Oosthuisen. PGA Commissioner Jay Monahan is suspending any current players headed to the LIV Tour, meaning they can’t play in any tour events, such as the 3M Open.
"The Saudi golf league is a pain. It’s a pain in our butt. We’ve lost some players to them, but we’re going to win in the long battle," Cavner said. "After 30 years on tour, I have the utmost confidence in the PGA Tour and what we have going on how we’re handling things."
The LIV Tour is a series of eight events that are 54-hole tournaments without a cut. The winner of the first event, Charl Schwartzel, won more than $4 million. The last place finisher gets $100,000. Players are also put on teams, which are paid for their group’s performance. Some players got paid hundreds of millions of dollars to join.
One player that won’t be at TPC Twin Cities? Inaugural champion Matthew Wolff. Cavner doesn’t think the new LIV series is a sustainable product.
"How long is it going to be? There’s no way that LIV golf can make money, the numbers don’t work. How long is it going to be before they get tired of throwing billions a year at something if they’re not getting great PR? I really don’t think it’ll be around in two years. If it is, it’s an exhibition tour. It is absolutely just an exhibition tour, that’s the way I feel about it," Cavner said. "Guys are getting paid to show up and there’s no risk."
As for what is happening in Blaine, construction of corporate tents and final preparations were well underway at TPC Twin Cities for the 3M Open. This year’s field will feature defending champion Cameron Champ, who shot a final round 5-under par 66 last year to top Schwartzel, Oosthuizen and Jhonattan Vegas by two shots.
It was Champ’s third PGA Tour win, and he came from behind to do it.
"It was a week everything was going pretty smoothly. I was playing some good golf, I was putting things together those first few days," Champ said Monday via Zoom. "I knew that last day the way I was playing, the way the course was set up, it was for anybody really."
This year’s field will include 32 players who have won a tournament within the last 12 months, including six winners so far this season. The biggest of those names includes Sungjae Im, Tom Hoge and Tony Finau. Their most recent commitment, Sahith Theegala, took second to Xander Schaufelle on Sunday at the Travelers Insurance Championship.
The 3M Open will also feature 11 players who have finished in the top 10 in the tournament the last three years. They include Adam Hadwin, Lucas Glover, Spring Lake Park native Troy Merritt, Charles Howell III and Finau.
Fans will also see three major champion winners, most recently Danny Willett, the 2016 Master’s champion. Cavner said he’ll release more big names coming to Blaine in the three weeks leading up to the tournament. TPC Twin Cities will play to a 7,441-yard par-71, and the field will be cut from 156 to the low 60 and ties after 36 holes. The winner gets $1.35 million, and 500 points towards the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
Edina native and former professional tennis player Mardy Fish, now playing on a celebrity golf tour, ha also been given a sponsor's exemption to play.
"We just wanted to do something different and bring him in and see how he could compete. He can play, he will not embarrass himself," Cavner said. "I think he’ll do just fine, he’s got a lot of game."
The event, with its corporate sponsors, will also raise more than $1.5 million for local charities M Health Fairview, The First Tee Minnesota and Greater Twin Cities United Way.
"I feel good about where we’re at. We want this to be the happening of the summer. We’re going to have the best tournament ever this year I think," Cavner said.