Some Minnesota golf fans might have sneered at the lack of the sport's biggest names in Blaine this year because golfers either wanted to rest after the British Open or were headed to Tokyo for the Olympics.
But nowhere else on the planet this week could you find a men's golf Olympic medalist teeing it up in competition.
The four golfers who represented the United States as the men's golf team at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro — Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar, Patrick Reed and Bubba Watson — all competed at the 3M Open in Blaine. Kuchar was tops of the bunch, taking home the bronze medal after a scorching 8-under 63 on the final day.
"What an incredible experience," said Kuchar, who made a hole-out eagle on the second hole in Friday's second round but missed the cut by a stroke. "I look back and still beam with pride just thinking about it."
Fowler didn't have his best stuff in Rio, finishing 37th out of 60 golfers, but that hardly diminished his time there. The Opening Ceremony, he said, was a "spectacle" and because the tee times for the Games were generally in the middle of the day he and other golfers were able to attend several events.
That included Fowler being front-row poolside for the 4x100-meter medley relay final, Michael Phelps' 23rd and final gold medal.
Fowler got an Olympics rings tattoo on his right forearm after he retuned home, a few weeks before representing the United States in the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National.
"It was pretty special because you're around people that, that's everything that they've worked for; the pinnacle of their sport," Fowler said. "It wasn't necessarily a dream of golfers growing up to be in the Olympics. [But] it's a super cool experience."
Seven other players this week in Blaine — Sergio Garcia (Spain), Emiliano Grillo (Argentina), Byeong Hun An (South Korea), David Lingmerth (Sweden), David Hearn (Canada), Jhonattan Vegas (Venezuela) and Brandon Stone (South Africa) — also represented their countries in 2016.
Four players — Vegas, Rafael Campos (Puerto Rico), Sepp Straka (Austria) and Mito Pereira (Chile) — are headed to Japan following play at the 3M Open.
Two-time PGA Tour winner Chez Reavie missed 10 of 12 cuts from late January through May's PGA Championship. On Friday, he was briefly atop the leaderboard when he shot a 67 to reach 9 under par. He will begin Saturday one shot back of the leader.
"It was more annoying than anything else," Reavie said about that skid. "Wasn't playing bad, missed a lot of cuts by a shot and golf seemed really tough at the time. I just kind of fought thought through it and here we are playing well."
Keep chugging along
Brian Stuard started Friday's second round on the back nine with three consecutive birdies and just kept going, all the way to a 7-under 64 that put him 8 under par and tied for seventh.
He is playing his sixth consecutive week after a T-15 last week at the Barbasol Championship and T-8 at the John Deere Classic. At 105th in the standings, he is aimed toward the 125-man FedEx Cup playoff field for the fourth consecutive season.
"Right now for me it's trying to get as much rest as possible," he said. "I've played a lot here coming down the stretch."
Caught in a trap?
Ohio State grad Bo Hoag was asked about the Big Ten football opener next month against the Gophers at Huntington Bank Stadium.
"It's kind of a trap game for the Buckeyes," he said. "Hopefully we'll be ready to go. [P.J.] Fleck's a good coach, so we'll see."
Tee times heads-up
Because of forecasted storms overnight lingering into Saturday morning, the PGA Tour altered the schedule. Players will now go off in threesomes for Round 3 using split tees. The final groups will tee off at noon.