Lee Hodges earns first PGA Tour win at 3M Open

Lee Hodges of the United States celebrates winning on the 18th green with caddie Andrew Medley during the final round of the 3M Open at TPC Twin Cities on July 30, 2023 in Blaine, Minnesota. (Getty Images)

Last year, the leader gave away a four-shot lead on Sunday at TPC Twin Cities. This time around, 28-year-old Lee Hodges never took his foot off the gas entering the day with a five-stroke lead and easily outlasting the closest challenger to take home his first PGA Tour win at the 3M Open.

Hodges was able to keep the momentum going on Sunday, scoring two eagles on Sunday.

The first eagle came at Hole 6, with Hodges dribbling a 255-yard approach shot over the fringe and leaving an 11-foot putt.

He was even better at Hole 12. From 257 yards out, Hodges laid his approach shot on the Par 5 less than three feet from the hole. The stress-free eagle pushed Hodges to 24-under for the tournament and six strokes clear of runner-up and final pairing partner J.T. Poston -- who was attempting to gnaw away at Hodges' lead.

On the back nine, Hodges avoided any major mistakes. He saved par on 13 after a bad approach putt that went six feet long. He gave back a stroke on Hole 15 after putting his tee shot in the rough at a tough angle to the hole and following up with a disappointing three-putt. He got that stroke back at 16 when his tee shot on the drivable Par 4 just bounced over a fairway bunker in front of the green. He played it a little too safe at 17, overshooting the green despite the short pin and putting another bogey on the scorecard.

At 18, with a four-stroke lead, Hodges again played it safe, not taking on any unnecessary risks on a hole that can quickly ruin a good round. After an errant tee shot, Hodges knocked his second shot onto the fairway, 115 yards out. His third shot rolled within two feet of the hole, leaving him an easy birdie look.

Poston, on the other hand, went aggressive, hoping Hodges would make a mistake. But, instead of gaining ground, Poston shot an eight on the hole after taking a bold shot with his hybrid over the water. Hitting on a downslope, Poston's ball came up short, ricocheting off some rocks and into the pond that protects the front of the green.

The mistake dropped Poston, who was three shots clear of third place, into a three-way tie for second.

For Hodges, the win at the 3M Open will be a game-changer for his career. It moves him up 31-spots in the FedExCup rankings, putting him in position to play in both playoff events and a shot at earning a spot for the season-ending Tour Championship.

A relative unknown on the tour, before Sunday, Hodges only had one top-three finish since joining the tour full-time in 2021, a T-3 at The American Express in 2022.

Despite that, Hodges has had a solid season in 2023, racking up top 20 finishes at the CJ Cup last fall (T-7), The Genesis Invitational (T-18), The Honda Classic (T-14), Valero Texas Open (T-6), The Memorial Tournament (T-12) and the Scottish Open (T-12).