The 3M Open’s top two players Thursday remained there Friday at a suddenly hot and gusty TPC Twin Cities, except this time Michael Thompson and Richy Werenski are second-round co-leaders at 12 under par.
Thompson’s 5-under-par 66 caught Werenski, who was the first-round leader by a shot.
But the highest world-ranked player left in the field is looming large.
No. 17 Tony Finau is lurking.
His 5-foot birdie putt on TPC’s 18th hole closed out his own 66 that puts him one shot behind the two leaders. So, too, is Talor Gooch, a former Oklahoma State star who won once on the Web.com Tour.
Defending champ Matthew Wolff is with two other players three shots back.
“One more than yesterday, but I played a lot better,” Finau said. “Really clean round for the conditions.”
Finau, 30, has made both the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams, has finished top-10 in all four majors and has six career runner-up finishes. But his only victory remains the 2016 Puerto Rico Open.
World No. 4 Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Brooks Koepka and No. 12 Tommy Fleetwood all are gone from Blaine before the weekend, but Koepka’s brother Chase is tied for 33rd. Johnson withdrew Friday, citing a back injury after he shot 78. Brooks Koepka, at 1 under par, missed the cut by a shot. Fleetwood missed it by three.
Last week, Finau shot 66 and 69 the first two days at the Memorial Tournament, 73 and 78 on the weekend and still finished eighth. He fired his caddie during the week and temporarily put his longtime swing coach Boyd Summerhays on the bag.
Together, they have thought themselves through two days when Finau has used both his length and putter effectively.
“I thought we picked our spots really well so far this week,” Finau said. “I always have the length when I want it, but that doesn’t mean I need to be aggressive all the time. He knows my game really well. We think about golf very similarly, and he has proved to be pretty beneficial these two days.”
He hit two long irons and still reached the downwind, 586-yard 12th hole in two shots and made birdie on a day when his caddie struggled to put suntan lotion on his legs.
“I started calling him ‘strawberries and cream,’ because he was white, red, white, like a strawberry parfait,” Finau said. “I was laughing just about every hole. I couldn’t get over how red his legs were.”
Thompson and Werenski both played early, jockeying for the lead in separate groups on separate nines without anyone following either to watch it.
“It’s weird,” Werenski said. “We’re almost kind of used to it now. But if you think about it, it is kind of strange.”
There was no applause when Thompson lifted both arms to the sky after he chipped 60 yards over a greenside bunker at the watery 14th and holed it for a birdie 3. He saw it track on a “beeline” to the hole and considered it “stealing a birdie” after what he called a “debacle” bogey at the par-5 12th, where he went from rough to bunker to rough again.
“You have to have those kinds of shots if you’re going to win a tournament,” said Thompson, who tied for second at the 2012 U.S Open and won the 2013 Honda Classic. “Hopefully, it’s one of many.”
Wolff trailed by six shots after two rounds last year, then Saturday shot a 62 and won on Sunday with an eagle putt. Three shots back, Wolff seeks to become the first player to win his first two titles at the same event since Daniel Berger in Memphis in 2016 and 2017.
“The memories I have, the shots I hit last year, they’re still running through my mind,” Wolff said. “The good memories, the good vibes help me have a lot of confidence knowing that when the weekend comes, I think I’ll be a lot more comfortable than most people.”
Finau heads to the weekend seeking two more “clean” rounds.
“When you shoot two rounds in the 60s, it doesn’t matter what the conditions are playing,” he said. “You know you’re playing good golf. You can always build off that.”