It was a week of firsts, of new beginnings.
After two decades of hosting a Champions Tour event, TPC Twin Cities in Blaine served as the site of the inaugural 3M Open July 4-7, the first non-major PGA event in Minnesota since 1969.
So it was only fitting that the final pairing would come down to a pair of newcomers with a mere eight starts as professionals between them, pounding drive after drive and putt after putt on the course reconfigured to test the world’s best.
Moments after five-time Tour winner Bryson DeChambeau buried an eagle on the signature 18th hole designed to make or break title hopes, 20-year-old Matthew Wolff, just six weeks removed from a college national championship at Oklahoma State University, stood over an eagle attempt for the lead.
As final pair partner Collin Morikawa looked on, Wolff calmly sank a 27-footer from the fringe. Morikawa, who had a birdie lip out the previous hole, just missed his own eagle attempt, giving Wolff his first PGA win at 21 under par and a piece of history, the inaugural 3M Open champion.
“I don’t think it’s really settled in yet,” Wolff said. “It’s life changing. You know, like you’ve seen it all before the last couple weeks, first-time winners and stuff. It’s something that I’ve always dreamed of as a kid growing up.
“(To) have it end like this was everything I could have hoped and wished for. The putt on the last was, gosh, something that changed my life forever.”
Wolff was making just his third start as a professional and became only the third golfer to ever win an NCAA title and a PGA event in the same year, joining Ben Crenshaw and Tiger Woods.
“It has been a quick turnaround with winning Nationals, which is something that I really dreamed of as well, then coming here three tournaments later and winning on the PGA TOUR,” Wolff said. “It’s definitely, you know, something that I never thought could have happened. I believed in myself, but to see it unravel and this is how it’s happening is really special.”
Wolff earned $1.152 million for the win and became eligible for PGA TOUR membership, which comes with a two year exemption and invitations to prestigious tournaments such as The Masters and the PGA Championship.
Morikawa, a 22-year-old in his fifth start as a professional, began the final round in a three-way tie for first place with Wolff and DeChambeau, yet struggled early in the final round at 2 over through six holes. Finding his rhythm on the back nine, he pulled into a tie for the lead by making birdies on five of six holes starting on 11, falling just short with a pair of near-misses to close in a tie for second place alongside DeChambeau.
“He made eagle, and I had a good number with a little cut 5-iron, downslope lie, so I had what I wanted to do,” Morikawa said. “I hit the shot I wanted to right on that slope, came back and gave myself a good look, just didn’t drop.”
Nonetheless, it was a confidence-building experience, one he hopes to build off of to close out 2019 and in future years as well.
“Heading down to the end of the season and obviously there’s one more notch I want to reach, but it is a good feeling, you know, to finish T-2,” Morikawa said. “You’re never going to be fully disappointed on that. It’s another week, and I think this is really going to help me just kind of move forward in the next month or so.
“Minnesota’s awesome. I haven’t been out here for a while, but no, the tournament was run spectacularly. This golf course was amazing, conditions were fantastic. You know, I look forward to having it back out here and hopefully coming back.”
The final round was close throughout until the late surges by Wolff, Morikawa and DeChambeau made it a three-way race in the closing moments.
Adam Hadwin finished in fourth place at 18 under, with Carlos Ortiz and Wyndham Clark tying for fifth place at 17 under. Six golfers tied for seventh place at 16 under, including Spring Lake Park graduate Troy Merritt.