It was a stark contrast along the grounds from a year ago, when thousands of fans lined the course each day in the 2019 inaugural event.
But on the course, the second annual 3M Open at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine provided a competitive atmosphere once again, as 11 golfers finished within three strokes of one another at the top of the leaderboard.
In the end, 35-year-old Michael Thompson emerged on top at 19-under par, gaining his second career title, seven years removed from his first win in 2013.
“It’s amazing,” Thompson said. “To win the 3M Open this year, for all the hard work that I put in, my wife has been a rock for me and continually telling me that you’re good enough, you belong out here, you’re supposed to be out here. Just hearing that day in and day out even when I’m not feeling it is just – is just incredible to have somebody like that in your life.
“This has been my dream ever since I was 7 years old, to play on the PGA TOUR. I never got past maybe winning one time, and to have it happen and to have it happen at such a great event on such a great golf course under these conditions with the field that we had this week, it was a shootout today. I mean, anybody could have won. It just means the world to me because it solidifies in my mind that I’m one of the best golfers in the world and that I can compete every single week out here.”
Thompson opened the tournament with a first round 64, putting him a stroke back, then finished the second and third rounds in a tie for the lead. He closed with a final round of 67 to capture his first title since the 2013 Honda Classic.
Thompson climbs from No. 151 to No. 39 in the FedExCup standings with the win and earns a two-year exemption on the Tour. He also earned the $1.188 million title prize.
Big stakes and plenty to be anxious about no matter the circumstances, even with spectators unable to attend due to coronavirus precautions.
“I was actually more nervous than I thought I would be throughout the day, even without the fans,” Thompson said. “I mean, we’re playing for a lot, you know, every week. It means so much to get a win and it gets you into so many different tournaments and solidifies your job for two more years. I mean, that’s enough pressure for anybody let alone having fans out there.
“It is a little sad that there wasn’t anybody out there to cheer on some of the great shots that I hit towards the end, but I know everybody who’s rooting for me at least was watching and screaming at their TV, so this is definitely a win for everybody who supported me throughout the years. It doesn’t diminish the excitement, I think, that the tournament holds.”
Adam Long closed with rounds of 63 and 64 to surge into a runner-up finish at 17-under par after entering the weekend just one stroke clear of the cut line.
Nine players finished at 16-under, including Richy Werenski, who held at least a share of the lead after each of the first three rounds, as well as Robby Shelton, Charles Howell III, Emiliano Grillo, Alex Noren, Tony Finau, Max Homa, Cameron Tringale and Charl Schwartzel.
Inaugural champion Matthew Wolff tied for 12th place at 15-under.