3M Open 2021 picks: Our expert caddie on Matthew Wolff: ‘He’s got to be the bet’
If you’re not betting the 3M Open, you’re either broke from your Open losses or not big enough of a golf degenerate (there's no shame either way). Though most of the experts in this column were on Jordan Spieth last week, we did have Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports on Collin Morikawa (40-1). So we’re not all completely broke. But most of us are golf-betting junkies—and we ain’t taking a week off.
The 3M Open is in just its third year on the PGA Tour, but it delivered one of the most exciting finishes of 2019 with Matthew Wolff edging out Collin Morikawa and Bryson DeChambeau with a birdie hole-out on the 72nd hole. And though the names weren’t as good, Michael Thompson’s bunker shot at the third-to-last hole was one of the most clutch we saw last season. The field isn’t great again this week, but this course should produce another memorable finish with lots of birdies.
Our Golf Digest betting panel—which consists of a caddie giving their insights each week—has now hit nine of the past 21 winners correctly. If you’re following our picks, you’re up money over the past six months. Though the majors are done for the year, there are still a number of events we’re betting … so join us, fellow betting degenerates!
Read on for this week’s analysis—including from our caddie, who clearly has great vibes about Wolff finding the winner’s circle again at TPC Twin Cities.
3M Open 2021 picks: Our Experts’ Outright Predictions
Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Matthew Wolff (30-1, DraftKings) — I don’t blame Matt for not wanting to make the journey to The Open. Players had so many restrictions—and we know Matt has struggled with tour life even when things were less strict. So he geared up back in Oklahoma to get ready for an event where he already won in 2019 and had a good finish last year. I'm hearing positive things from people around Wolff this week. At this price amongst some jet-lagged favorites, he’s got to be the bet.
Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Sergio Garcia (35-1, DraftKings) — The driving is there, the irons are there, short game is pretty irrelevant to the top of the leaderboard at TPC Twin Cities, so it’s all about the putting for Sergio. And it’s been a lot better lately. Still not good, but hopefully he can hit it close enough to make life easy on himself.
Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Tony Finau (16-1, FanDuel) — My model still likes Tony Finau because it’s based on long-term form. Eventually, he has to put it all together, and why not this week? The field is weak, and he has a 23rd and third at TPC Twin Cities in his career.
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Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Bubba Watson (35-1, William Hill) — Watson didn’t play the Open Championship last week, which could be seen as a positive—he doesn’t have to make the trip back to the states and should be well-rested. Last time we saw Watson, he finished T-6 at the Rocket Mortgage following up his T-19 at the Travelers. He’s gained strokes off-the-tee in seven consecutive measured events and has his game in great shape.
Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Bubba Watson (35-1, William Hill) — Bubba’s playing great golf—his struggles on the back nine at the Travelers were shocking. His sizzling Sunday at the Rocket Mortgage showed he’s not slowing down. At a birdie-fest (he’s first in this field over the past 24 rounds per Fantasy National in Birdie or Better rate) and where you need to eat on the par 5s (he’s fourth in SG/par 5s in the past 24 rounds), you gotta love Bubba’s chances … and these odds seem more than fair.
Christopher Powers, Golf Digest assistant editor: Matthew Wolff (30-1, DraftKings) — I’ve been chasing the Wolff comeback win since Torrey Pines, and there is no way I’m stopping now at 3M, where he bagged career win No. 1 and then came back and tied for 12th in 2020. Great course history, solid form coming in, well-rested since he skipped the Open Championship. If the putter cooks, he’ll be there late Sunday afternoon.
Lee Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Patrick Reed (20-1, William Hill) — Reed comes into this event with the most total strokes-gained over the last two years of anyone in the field. His short-term form is just as impressive, ranking fourth in the field for total strokes-gained over the last two months. Reed’s excellent putting on Bentgrass greens and razor sharp short game also means he ranks seventh in our Course Suitability Ranking this week so the course suits too.
Recent results: Golf Digest's betting panel has been red-hot the past two seasons—and we’re finishing this season HOT. Our experts have now predicted nine of the past 21 winners—an insane clip in predicting golf events (after going up 225.30 units last season!). Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports added his second win in six events, predicting Collin Morikawa’s victory at The Open (at 40-1, after hitting Garrick Higgo at the Palmetto, also at 40-1). Brandon Gdula of numberFire/FanDuel predicted Cam Davis’ win in this column at the Rocket Mortgage (at 100-1)! Stephen Hennessey predicted Jason Kokrak’s victory at the Charles Schwab Challenge a few weeks ago (at 45-1)! He also picked Jordan Spieth (11-1) at the Valero Texas Open. That continued a strong 2021—at The Players, Christopher Powers and Rick Gehman called Justin Thomas’ victory (18-1). That was each of their second accurate predictions of 2021, with Powers hitting Koepka (50-1) and Gehman and Gdula calling Daniel Berger at Pebble Beach (14-1). Pat Mayo nailed Collin Morikawa at the WGC-Workday at 33-1 in addition to Koepka at the WMPO. We’ll stop there! Be sure to check this column every week for picks from the hottest betting panel in golf!
Listen to Golf Digest's weekly betting podcast, "Be Right," (above) where we interview the industry's leading experts (and sometimes tour pros) to help you make your bets and pick your fantasy lineups. And be sure to subscribe to "Be Right" wherever you get your podcasts!
3M Open 2021 picks: Sleepers/Dark Horses Who Could Win
Caddie: Tom Lewis (130-1, FanDuel) — This kid’s too talented not to have won out here yet. This is a deep number in a not-so-deep field. His off-the-tee game is his strength, which should give him some real chances into these par 5s.
Mayo: Jhonattan Vegas (60-1, DraftKings) — Vegas’ irons have been peaking as of late. He’s made seven straight cuts with three top-11 finishes in his last five starts, and this is the perfect course for him. A bounty of eagles to be had along with beaucoup birdies. All three of Vegas’ career wins have been in low scoring events like this.
Gdula: Chris Kirk (70-1, FanDuel) — Kirk rates out as one of the best tee-to-green golfers in this field once adjusted for field strength and recency over the past year in my database, and he’s a pretty strong birdie-maker, too.
Gehman: Mito Pereira (80-1, William Hill) — Pereira made his PGA Tour debut at the Rocket Mortgage and missed the cut, but seems to have gotten more comfortable in every event since then. He finished T-34 at the John Deere and T-5 at the Barbasol last week. Per the RickRunGood.com golf database, he has gained 10.01 strokes off-the-tee and 5.59 strokes on approach in those two events. That’s great ball-striking for a golfer who has found the winner’s circle on the Korn Ferry Tour three times this year.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Troy Merritt (100-1, PointsBet) — It’s tough for me not to like Merritt this week. He came so close at Rocket Mortgage, another birdie-fest at a Midwest comp course. And his putter has been red-hot recently—he’s second in the past 24 rounds in SG/putting, with spike weeks of gaining more than 6.5 strokes/putting on three occasions since May, and he has four top-10s in that span. He has the seventh-place finish in 2019 in his home state … like I said, it’s tough for me not to love my Merritt bet this week.
Powers, Golf Digest: Cameron Champ (150-1, DraftKings) — Before each of his two PGA Tour victories, Champ gained at least 6.4 strokes off the tee and at least 5.1 strokes tee-to-green in his previous start, each of those weeks resulting in a top-30 finish. At the John Deere, Champ gained 5.5 strokes tee-to-green and 6.2 off-the-tee, finishing in 11th-place. What that tells me is that when he does figure it out tee-to-green, he’s usually on the verge of exploding, so long as the putter gets hot too. At 150-1, you’d be a fool to pass up on a guy with his firepower who has already won twice on tour and is coming off a strong performance in his last start.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Bo Hoag (130-1, DraftKings) — Hoag is playing some nice golf right now, ranking 22nd in the field for SG/total over the past two months, yielding two top-15 finishes for him. The reason Hoag should go even better this week is his course suitability. He ranks 19th in the FanShare Sports’ course-suitability ranking this week and ranks 10th for SG/total at Twin Cities (he finished 12th here in 2019).
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3M Open 2021 picks: Players to Fade This Week (who will disappoint)
Caddie: Robert MacIntyre (28-1, DraftKings) — The young Scotsman has been impressive at the majors this year. But his high finish at The Open came via the back-door variety, and I heard some chatter about his putting at the Scottish Open costing him a chance at the title. At a birdie-fest, you’re going to need someone to catch fire with the putter—and that’s probably not MacIntyre.
Mayo: Louis Oosthuizen (11-1, DraftKings) — This isn’t a major. In fact, it’s about as far away from one as you can get.
Gdula: Dustin Johnson (+750, FanDuel) — The lower scores go, the more golfers can contend, and that’s bad news for a heavy favorite. He could run away with this, sure, but the setup and scoring make it extra unlikely.
Gehman: Louis Oosthuizen (11-1, DraftKings) — Let’s be clear, Oosthuizen has been amazing this year —arguably one of the best players on tour. However, another draining week for Oosthuizen in England has me worried. Nearly going wire-to-wire and now making the trip back to the 3M Open doesn’t elicit a ton of confidence. On top of that, this is the shortest odds we’ve seen on Oosthuizen in recent memory. I’m willing to pass on Louis this week and catch back up with him in the playoffs.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Louis Oosthuizen (11-1, DraftKings) — Yes, this is a cop-out fade. But I’m doing this for the greater good of the public. Do not get suckered into this.
Powers, Golf Digest: Louis Oosthuizen (11-1, DraftKings) — The Louie checklist: 1.) Is it a major? No. 2.) Is the tournament being played in America? Yes. That’s it, that’s the checklist. Hard pass.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Matthew Wolff (30-1, DraftKings) — Wolff just has not been playing well enough to warrant this price. He comes into this event ranked just 76th in the field for Opportunities Gained over the past two months and just 59th in SG/total over the same period.
3M Open 2021 picks: Matchups
Caddie: Luke List (-134) over Troy Merritt (PointsBet) — List is hitting the ball as well as anyone right now. Merritt might be a popular pick this week, but he’s too streaky for me—I can see him trunk-slamming, but List’s a good top-20 bet.
Mayo: Sergio Garcia (-110) over Keegan Bradley (DraftKings) — The battle of the elite ball-strikers and awful putters. Fortunately, Sergio is still the better ball-striker.
Gdula: Matthew Wolff (+132) over Emiliano Grillo (FanDuel) — I’m usually a Grillo guy, but even on bentgrass, we can’t fully trust him to putt well. Wolff’s past year of data is bogged down from some off-course issues, so I like the plus-money odds on him here.
Gehman: Charl Schwartzel (-105) over Matthew Wolff (DraftKings) — Wolff is getting an odds boost for being the 2019 champion but we really don’t know the state of his game. His range of outcomes is likely as large as anyone in the field, which is usually good for outright bets but not matchups. Schwartzel on the other hand, has been solid. He finished T-19 at the U.S. Open and T-26 last week at the Barbasol Championship. He has gained strokes tee-to-green in six of his last eight measured events which is the blueprint that I’d prefer in this situation.
Hennessey: Pat Perez (-125) over Matt Kuchar — No disrespect to Kuch, but give me Double P’s putter over Kuch’s anyday. PP has gained strokes putting and on approach in seven of his past eight starts. That’s a recipe for success this week … whereas Kuch missed the cut at The Open by a mile (I know because I had money on him).
Powers: Jhonattan Vegas (-120) over Stewart Cink (DraftKings) — @PGATout, our esteemed guest on the “Be Right” podcast this week, is very high on Vegas, so that means we’re all high on Vegas, too. As fun as that whole Stewart Cink run and subsequent “Ryder Cup captain’s pick??” debate was, the guy has not been great since Harbour Town, and last week he missed his first cut since The Players.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Emiliano Grillo (-120) over Keegan Bradley (Betfair) — Grillo comes into this event in better form than Bradley, is better ranked in the FanShare Sports’ course-suitability ranking and has a better record here at Twin Cities.
Matchup results from The Open: Hennessey: 1 for 1 (Jordan Spieth (-114) over Dustin Johnson); Powers: 1 for 1 (Kevin Kisner (-125) over Matt Kuchar); Alldrick: 1 for 1 (Harris English (-125) over Will Zalatoris); Gehman: 1 for 1 (Jordan Spieth (-143) over Scottie Scheffler); Caddie: 1 for 1 (Brooks Koepka (-142) over Bryson DeChambeau); Mayo, Gdula: 0 for 1.
Matchup Results this season (Wins-Losses-Pushes): Hennessey: 22-13-3 (up 7.53 units); Alldrick: 23-16-1 (up 4.93 units); Gdula: 19-19-2 (down 1.28 units); Powers: 19-17-4 (up 0.31 units); Gehman: 17-21-2 (down 4.30 units); Caddie: 14-22-4 (down 8.22 units); Mayo: 14-23-2 (down 10.14 units).
3M Open 2021 picks: Top 10
Caddie: Sam Ryder (+1200, DraftKings) — You might’ve missed it, but Ryder’s irons were SCORCHING hot at the Barbasol—he gained more than 11 strokes on approach last week. Add in a top-five finish at the Honda Classic, another track with water everywhere you look, and we might have a longshot top-10 bet worth grabbing.
Mayo: Luke List (+500, DraftKings) — Top 10 in driving and approach over the past 24 rounds, coming in off consecutive top-10 finishes, and not putting as awful as usual. Sounds like a week where he’ll be in the mix entering Sunday only to miss enough five-footers to sink his chances and end up in a tie for seventh. So the top 10 works.
Gdula: Doug Ghim (+500, FanDuel) — Ghim finished 18th last year at this event and has the tools to contend at a birdie-friendly setup as one of the more underrated ball-strikers on tour. He struggles with the flat stick, but that can still lead to a top-10 finish.
Gehman: Patton Kizzire (+500, DraftKings) — Thanks to some amazing Sunday rounds recently, Kizzire has posted top-25 finishes at the Rocket Mortgage and the John Deere. His volatility is actually exciting in this field because he’s capable of putting multiple hot rounds together and finding his name on the first page of the leaderboard.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Emiliano Grillo (+360) — I’ve resisted betting Grillo outright, but I’m close to doing it. He finished T-3 at the 3M Open last year, and he’s playing even better golf right now. OK, I might have to actually pull the trigger...
Powers, Golf Digest: Hank Lebioda (+550, FanDuel) — When you’re hot, you’re hot, and Hank Lebioda is HOT. I’m not going to miss out on this top-10 train, which is rolling full steam ahead. Fifth, fourth and eighth-place finishes in his past three starts, much of it due to a lights-out putter. Not sustainable, you say? Well, he’s gained 2.8 or more strokes on the greens in five straight starts, so as of now it is very sustainable.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Hank Lebioda (+550, FanDuel) — Lebioda is on fire right now. He ranks second in the field this week for SG/total over the past two months and also ranks 14th in the FanShare Sports’ course-suitability ranking this week due to his short game on and around the greens.
Top-10 results from The Open: Hennessey and Powers: 1 for 1 (Brooks Koepka (+163); Everyone else: 0 for 1.
Top-10 results from this season: Gehman: 9 for 37 (up 14.35 units); Hennessey: 7 for 35 (up 4.13 units); Powers: 8 for 37 (up 1.63 units); Tour caddie: 6 for 36 (down 13.85 units); Gdula: 3 for 36 (down 17.5 units); Mayo: 2 for 36 (down 21 units); Alldrick: 2 for 35 (down 25 units).
Listen to Golf Digest's weekly betting podcast, "Be Right," where we interview the industry's leading experts (and sometimes tour pros) to help you make your bets and pick your fantasy lineups. And be sure to subscribe to "Be Right" wherever you get your podcasts!
3M Open 2021 picks: One and Done
Gehman: Maverick McNealy — It hasn’t been a long career, but it’s pretty easy to argue that this is the best stretch of golf for McNealy on the PGA Tour. He’s earned four straight top-30 finishes and has gained strokes on approach in four of his past five measured events. It’s possible that he’s found something, and it will continue in Minnesota with a weak field in tow.
Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Joel Dahmen; U.S. Open: Jon Rahm; Corales: Denny McCarthy. Sanderson: Sebastian Munoz. Shriners: Matthew Wolff. CJ Cup: Xander Schauffele. Zozo: Bubba Watson. Bermuda: Rasmus Hojgaard. Houston: Lanto Griffin. Masters: Rory McIlroy. RSM: Webb Simpson. Sentry TOC: Patrick Reed. Sony: Abraham Ancer. AMEX: Patrick Cantlay. Torrey: Jon Rahm. Waste Management: Webb Simpson. AT&T Pebble Beach: Jason Day. Genesis Invitational: Rory McIlroy. WGC-Workday: Tyrrell Hatton. The Players: Bryson DeChambeau; Honda Classic: Sungjae Im. WGC-Match Play: Patrick Reed. Valero Texas Open: Jordan Spieth. The Masters: Dustin Johnson. RBC Heritage: Daniel Berger. Valspar: Paul Casey. Wells Fargo: Viktor Hovland. AT&T Byron Nelson: Sam Burns. PGA Championship: Collin Morikawa. Charles Schwab Challenge: Charley Hoffman. Memorial Tournament: Billy Horschel. Palmetto Championship: Lucas Glover. U.S. Open: Brooks Koepka. Travelers Championship: Keegan Bradley. Rocket Mortgage Classic: Jason Kokrak. John Deere Classic: Kevin Streelman. The Open: Justin Thomas.
Hennessey: Bubba Watson — If you’re someone saving DJ for Northern Trust this year, remember: They’re playing Liberty National, not TPC Boston. I already used him in this space … so I’m going Bubba here.
Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Phil Mickelson; U.S. Open: Hideki Matsuyama; Corales: Adam Long. Sanderson: Sam Burns. Shriners: Harris English. CJ Cup: Kevin Na. Zozo: Joaquin Niemann. Bermuda: Doc Redman. Houston: Russell Henley. Masters: Tyrrell Hatton. RSM: Brian Harman. Sentry TOC: Justin Thomas. Sony: Ryan Palmer. AMEX: Scottie Scheffler. Torrey: Sungjae Im. Waste Management: Daniel Berger. AT&T Pebble Beach: Francesco Molinari. Genesis Invitational: Tony Finau. WGC-Workday: Xander Schauffele. The Players: Jordan Spieth. Honda Classic: Adam Scott. WGC-Match Play: Patrick Reed. Valero Texas Open: Chris Kirk. The Masters: Dustin Johnson. RBC Heritage: Webb Simpson. Valspar: Charley Hoffman. Wells Fargo: Max Homa. AT&T Byron Nelson: Will Zalatoris. PGA Championship: Xander Schauffele. Charles Schwab Challenge: Abraham Ancer. Memorial Tournament: Collin Morikawa. Palmetto Championship: Matt Fitzpatrick. U.S. Open: Jon Rahm. Travelers Championship: Paul Casey. Rocket Mortgage Classic: Bryson DeChambeau. John Deere Classic: Alex Noren. The Open: Rory McIlroy.
Powers: Dustin Johnson — Somehow managed to not use this winning machine up until now, and it could prove to be brilliant. He’s starting to find form again, and seems primed for another monster late-season run. I love Wolff and Champ this week, for sure, but deep down I feel like we’re about to get a DJ blitzes the field week as he begins another FedEx Cup charge.
Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Brendan Steele; U.S. Open: Louis Oosthuizen; Corales: Adam Long. Sanderson: Sam Burns. Shriners: Jason Kokrak. CJ Cup: Daniel Berger. Zozo: Joaquin Niemann. Bermuda: Denny McCarthy. Houston: Russell Henley. Masters: Bubba Watson. RSM: Brian Harman. Mayakoba: Corey Conners. Sentry TOC: Harris English. Sony: Zach Johnson. AMEX: Matthew Wolff. Torrey: Tony Finau. Waste Management: Sungjae Im. AT&T Pebble Beach: Jason Day. Genesis: Hideki Matsuyama. WGC-Workday: Tyrrell Hatton. The Players: Tommy Fleetwood. Honda Classic: Adam Scott. WGC-Match Play: Matt Fitzpatrick. Valero Texas Open: Chris Kirk. The Masters: Jordan Spieth. RBC Heritage: Kevin Kisner. Valspar: Patrick Reed. Wells Fargo: Patrick Cantlay. AT&T Byron Nelson: Will Zalatoris. PGA Championship: Rory McIlroy. Charles Schwab Challenge: Joaquin Niemann. Memorial Tournament: Jon Rahm. Palmetto Championship: Harold Varner III. U.S. Open: Bryson DeChambeau. Travelers Championship: Scottie Scheffler. Rocket Mortgage Classic: Doc Redman. John Deere Classic: Brian Harman. The Open: Xander Schauffele.
By The Numbers:
Courtesy of Rick Gehman of RickRunGood.com:
1.51 — The number of strokes gained per round by Hank Lebioda (30 rounds) since April 1st. That’s the third best mark in this field behind only Louis Oosthuizen and Patrick Reed.
2.03 — The number of strokes gained per round by Tony Finau at the 3M Open. That’s the second best mark in this field, behind Matthew Wolff, of any golfers who played this event both years.
14.6 — The average finish for Patrick Reed in the last five events after missing the cut the week prior. Reed failed to make the weekend at the Open Championship.
2.08 — The number of strokes gained per round by Matthew Wolff on “TPC” courses. That’s the best mark of anyone in this field on that network of courses since 2015.
About our experts
Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, owner of the Mayo Media Network and host of The Pat Mayo Experience. (Subscribe for video or audio. Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2020 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award, and was finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 21 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo is on the board of governors at www.fantasynational.com.
Brandon Gdula, managing editor and analyst for NumberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 fantasy sports-writers association Golf Writer of the Year *(congrats, Brandon!)*. Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast.
Rick Gehman is the founder of RickRunGood.com and the RickRunGood YouTube Channel, is one of the industry’s leading experts on golf DFS and gambling. Gehman is co-host of the First Cut Podcast and appears regularly on the Pat Mayo Experience golf podcasts. Follow him on Twitter: @RickRunGood.
Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports started out writing an article highlighting the best bargain plays for fantasy golf under his twitter handle @DKGolfBargains. His success at this prompted FanShare Sports to enlist him as a guest writer, which evolved into him writing the weekly Under The Radar article. As a U.K.-based expert, Alldrick’s insight into European Tour regulars and low priced, low owned plays has provided an invaluable edge for readers when it comes to DFS GPPs.