The inaugural 3M Open plans to offer sponsor’s exemptions to Minnesotans Tom Lehman and Tim Herron, who between the two have nine PGA Tour victories.
Sunday’s RBC Heritage winner C.T. Pan, 2016 PGA Championship winner Jimmy Walker and tour veteran Pat Perez are the latest notable names who have committed to play at TPC of Twin Cities in Blaine July 4-7, tournament director Peter Mele said.
That list already included major champions Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Jason Day, Jason Dufner, Lucas Glover as well as rising star Bryson DeChambeau, ranked eighth in the world. Koepka is ranked third, Day 14th and Reed 19th.
Spring Lake Park High School graduate and former Winona State golfer Troy Merritt also is committed. He has won twice on the tour, beating Rickie Fowler to win the 2015 Quicken Loans National and 2018 Barbasol Championship.
Merritt is back playing on tour after he underwent surgery to remove a blood clot from his left arm shortly after winning the Barbasol last August. He then had a rib removed in January that resolved a blood vessel and nerve condition that caused the blood clot.
3M Open boss Hollis Cavner courted Tiger Woods’ representatives at the Masters two weeks ago before Woods won his first major in 11 years and his 15th overall, three behind Jack Nicklaus’ record. He and his staff have worked hard to recruit Woods, well before his Masters victory. They’re hopeful he’ll eventually commit because he often has played a tournament two weeks before the British Open to prepare for it.
The 3M Open this season comes two weeks before the British Open returns to Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951.
Lehman, 60, previously was named as a special ambassador who will host events throughout the week. He has played on the PGA Tour Champions for the past decade. He was the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year in 1996 after he won the British Open that summer. He has finished in the Top 10 in all four majors, including second-place finishes at the Masters and U.S. Open and a 10th-place finish at the PGA Championship.
A course designer as well, Lehman supervised changes made to the TPC Twin Cities course last fall that narrowed, lengthened and modified it so it would better challenge the game’s best players after it was home to a PGA Championship Tour event for nearly 20 years.
Herron will turn 50 and be eligible to play on the Champions tour next February. He has won four times on the PGA Tour, including at Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Invitational in 1999 and the Colonial in 2006.