3M Open picks 2023: Why this proven winner is poised to snap a lengthy victory drought
With just over a month left in the PGA Tour season, a number of guys, Justin Thomas included, need to quick it into another gear in order to make the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Or, for some, the U.S. or European Ryder Cup teams. Major season may be over, but these next five weeks still mean a lot to some.
We, too, need to find another gear. After a scorching hot run, we've come up empty in the outright winner department since Rickie Fowler's comeback dub at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Something tells us that, like it was for Rickie, it's our time to get it done again.
Scroll down to see who we like this week at the 2023 3M Open.
3M Open picks 2023: Our Experts’ Outright Predictions
Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Hideki Matsuyama (18-1, BetMGM) — Hideki’s quietly rounding back into form—hitting the ball like we’re used to seeing. He should be licking his chops in this kind of field returning to a course he had a great finish in 2019.
Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Lucas Glover (45-1, DraftKings) — Three straight top-six finishes in mid-to-weak fields for The GLOVE is far and away the best form in the field. Over his past 12 rounds, he’s gaining an average of 1.4 strokes on approach per round while piling on two strokes per event off the tee over that same period. The biggest thing is going to be his putter. After dropping strokes to the field in 17 of 19 starts, the former U.S. Open champ switched putting styles and it immediately paid dividends, Glover gaining nine strokes over eight rounds between Detroit and TPC Deere Run. Then, at the Barbasol, he lost to the field. Nothing crazy, -0.7 SG/putting, while still far off his nadir -8.5 at the Byron Nelson earlier this season. Just needs to catch a little more lightning in a bottle.
Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Aaron Rai (45-1, FanDuel) — Rai has a top-five tee-to-green game among the field over the past 50 rounds—via datagolf—and will need the putter to cooperate in order to convert on a win, but the odds are too long for someone with this ball-striking ability.
Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Sungjae Im (16-1, DraftKings) — With water lurking everywhere at TPC Twin Cities, having a strong off-the-tee player is almost critical which certainly helps Im. He’s more than just a great driver, he’s a well-rounded player who is starting to find his stride after a T-20 finish last week at the Open. He’s played this event twice, finishing T-15 and T-2 – gaining the most strokes per round at TPC Twin Cities of anyone in this field, per the RickRunGood.com golf database.
Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Gary Woodland (40-1, BetMGM) — The combination of off-the-tee prowess and ball-striking precision can be lethal at TPC Twin Cities, and the four-time PGA Tour winner is 13th in SG/off the tee and ninth in SG/approach in this field over the past 36 rounds, per RickRunGood.com. Plus, Woodland has played well here—he had a chance to win here in 2021 before a very disappointing Sunday.
Christopher Powers, Golf Digest staff writer: Gary Woodland (40-1, BetMGM) — We all know how this is going to go - Woodland will gain a million strokes tee-to-green but finish T-32 because he lost six strokes with his putter. But we keep coming back to the well on the odd chance all the birdie putts fall one week. It’s happened for the likes of Cameron Champ and Matthew Wolff at TPC Twin Cities, so why not for Gary, who has made 11 of his last 12 cuts, gaining strokes off-the-tee in all of those starts and on approach in all but two. Of course, because he can’t putt, all he has to show for it during that stretch is a high finish of 14th (twice). But with an 11th here in his lone appearance in 2021, perhaps this is a spot he can quite literally get the ball rolling into the hole.
Andy Lack, RickRunGood.com and Inside Golf podcast: Sungjae Im (16-1, DraftKings) — Sungjae Im possesses the perfect combination this week of elite course history and trending form while still coming in at a fair betting price, given this field's strength. He’s coming off a quiet 20th-place finish at the Open, where he gained over two strokes on approach. His best ball-striking round came on Saturday, where the conditions were more conducive to scoring. That’s the mindset that Sungjae will have to adopt this week, and considering he ranks top 10 in this field in both birdie-or-better percentage and par-5 scoring, he is certainly up for the challenge. He’s also far too good of a player to sustain a winless streak for this long, and this is the type of event he has proven most deadly at.
Past results: As we head deep into summer, the panel remains as hot as ever, with 12 outright victories on the year as a group. Pat Mayo recently picked up his first of the season, nailing Rickie Fowler’s comeback win at the Rocket Mortgage at 14-1. Rick Gehman was on Fowler, too, giving him two outright hits on the year. Brandon Gdula leads the way with SIX of his own, his most recent coming at the U.S. Open where Gdula touted Wyndham Clark at 85-1 (!!).
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3M Open picks 2023: Sleepers/Dark Horses Who Could Win
Caddie: Eric Cole (55-1, BetRivers) — It’s a matter of time for the former mini-tour grinder, who won at prolific levels. That’s an innate skill, and if he keeps putting himself in position—like he did earlier this year at the Honda Classic, which is similar in a lot of ways—he’s going to get it done. He’s one of the best putters in the field and his irons have been red hot.
Mayo: Taylor Pendrith (60-1, DraftKings) — I’ve been completely off Pendrith all year as the numbers simply didn’t match his hype, yet his price never dropped. Now his price has dropped, everyone’s off of him, but the numbers look promising all of a sudden. He’s strung together consecutive top-15 finishes fueled by a massive uptick in his driving and irons numbers. They’ve returned to summer 2022 form. Plus, we’re back on Bentgrass where he’s gaining close to a quarter stroke more per round than on Bermudagrass.
Gdula: Ryan Fox (50-1, FanDuel) — Joining the winners list at TPC Twin Cities of Tony Finau, Cameron Champ, Matthew Wolff (and Michael Thompson) would make a lot of sense for Fox, who is long off the tee and has a pretty complete game.
Gehman: Garrick Higgo (70-1, FanDuel) — Higgo’s best weapon is his driver and he’s wielded it beautifully the last few months. He’s third in strokes gained off-the-tee in the last 36 rounds and the results are starting to pour in with three straight top-33 finishes including a T-19 at the Scottish Open. He’s not perfect, but he’s trending in the right direction and has a great skill set for this course.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Garrick Higgo (70-1, FanDuel) — There’s a lot of attention on bombers this week, and I haven’t seen Higgo’s name too much. Look at the run of form he’s on: 33rd at the Rocket Mortgage, 21st at the John Deere and 19th at the Scottish. We love Higgo in birdie-fests, and he has the firepower to continue this run of left-handers winning after Brian Harman and Akshay Bhatia.
Powers, Golf Digest: Davis Thompson (100-1, BetMGM) — Like Cam Champ and Matt Wolff before him, Davis Thompson is an up-and-comer who hits it a mile, eats up the par 5s and can occasionally run hot with the putter, particularly on Bentgrass greens. After a rough stretch of four missed cuts in six starts, Thompson went 24th at Rocket Mortgage and 31st at John Deere. Remember, this is a dude who didn’t flinch when he was battling down the stretch with Jon Rahm at the AMEX way back in January. If he gets back into the mix like that this weekend, I love his chances at breaking through.
Lack: Adam Svensson (80-1, BetMGM) — I’ve long been a fan of Adam Svensson well before he broke through last Fall at the RSM Classic. Unfortunately, he hasn’t given us much to write about this calendar year, but I firmly believe the Canadian is trending in the right direction. Svensson is coming off a 21st-place finish at the John Deere Classic, where he gained strokes in all four major categories. Now he travels to a golf course where he’s hit the ball beautifully in the past, which should not come as a surprise given his accuracy off the tee. With a ninth-place finish at PGA National and a 13th in his only appearance at TPC Sawgrass, Svensson has shown an affinity for water-intensive courses like Twin Cities where the main objective is to avoid landmines off the tee. This is a fine opportunity to catch a talented player on the upswing who has already proven he can win at this level while he is still undervalued.
3M Open picks 2023: Players We’re Fading
Caddie: Sepp Straka (20-1, Caesars) — Sepp played like a top-five player in the world last week, and he’s going to be an incredible asset to the European Ryder Cup team in a few months. But I’ve seen this play out before—a couple of draining weeks across the pond, after a victory just a few weeks ago, is a ton of taxing golf. It’d be easy for Sepp to coast through this week when a bunch of other top players have way more motivation to contend.
Mayo: Justin Thomas (28-1, DraftKings) — Even if JT gets the ball-striking back to regular levels, the dude still remains loose with the putter.
Gdula: Cameron Davis (30-1, FanDuel) — The irons are stuck in neutral most weeks, and he’s not a good enough putter to want to buy in at 30-1.
Gehman: Tony Finau (16-1, DraftKings) — Since his win in Mexico, Finau has truly struggled. In his seven events since, he’s missed the cut three times and has one finish better than 32nd. He’s lost multiple strokes putting in six of those events and has been an average approach player. That’s a big price to pay for a golfer who is lacking form.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Justin Thomas (28-1, DraftKings) — Easy one for me. I will put my money where my mouth is and fade JT in matchups until he shows us some signs of life.
Powers, Golf Digest: Stephan Jaeger (40-1, DraftKings) — Not going out on a limb by fading a 40-1 shot, but Jaeger is always a very popular bet, hence his odds being so low. For the life of me, I don’t understand why, so now he’ll probably win to make me look like a fool.
Lack: Justin Thomas (28-1, DraftKings) — I’ve certainly got respect for Justin Thomas adding this event to his schedule in hopes of securing a spot in the FedEx Cup playoffs, but I’m not sure that a course where water comes into play on nearly every single hole is going to be where the two-time major winner finds form. On talent and pedigree alone, Thomas can never be counted out, but I’m surprised that his betting number this week remains in the 25-1 range coming off such a disastrous performance at the Open Championship. I’m certainly rooting for, but I have no issues being late on the JT resurgence.
3M Open picks 2023: Matchups
Caddie: Stephan Jaeger (-110) over Ryan Fox (DraftKings) — Jaeger’s on a great run of form—off ninth-place and 13th-place finishes—and he’s well-rested after the past two weeks off … whereas Fox grinded over the past few weeks. Fox can find trouble off the tee, and there are big numbers to be made at TPC Twin Cities.
Mayo: Eric Cole (+100) over J.J. Spaun (DraftKings) — Cole is riding incredible iron form entering the 3M and actually sits second in the field in total strokes-gained over the past 50 rounds. Spaun’s driving has been excellent, per usual, yet the irons have been hit or miss the past two months, while the putter is downright frigid. More so on Bentgrass where he’s losing a quarter stroke per round on the greens.
Gdula: Patrick Rodgers (+100) over Keith Mitchell (FOX Bet) — Rodgers is a better iron player, wedge player and putter right now than Mitchell, whose advantage is limited just to the driver. The value is on Rodgers here.
Gehman: Ludvig Aberg (-120) over Sahith Theegala (Bet365) — These two guys couldn’t be more different off the tee. Aberg boasts one of the best drivers in the game and certainly tops in this field, gaining three-plus strokes off-the-tee in five straight starts. Theegala can hit it far, but accuracy is a problem which is terrifying this week with water lurking at every turn. Theegala has missed two cuts in a row and doesn’t have an individual top-25 finish since the RBC Heritage.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Cameron Young (-170) over Justin Thomas (Circa) — Yes, JT’s back against the wall needing to secure a Ryder Cup spot. But you can say the same for Young, who’s playing significantly better golf and needs a few more top finishes to lock up a call from Zach Johnson. TPC Twin Cities seems like a tough place to find your game, which is where JT is at, compared to Young who was the best ball-striker in the field at Royal Liverpool. I’m happy to lay the heavy odds on this one.
Powers, Golf Digest: Aaron Rai (-110) over Cameron Davis (DraftKings) — The summer has not been kind to Cameron Davis, who backdoored his way into the top five at the PGA Championship in May and has since gone MC-MC-MC-33rd-17th-MC. Rai, meanwhile, has finished 24th or better in four of his last six starts, gaining at least 6.7 strokes or more on approach in three of those.
Lack: Stephan Jaeger (-110) over Ryan Fox (DraftKings) — While I still have questions about Stephan Jaeger’s ability to win golf tournaments, the German is one of the safest bets to make it through the cut on a week to week basis. In 19 starts this year, Jaeger has made 17 cuts, with nine top-30 finishes, and he is coming off a rock-solid ball-striking performance at the Barracuda Championship. Ryan Fox, on the other hand, is a far more volatile player who has still yet to prove himself on this side of the pond. I love Fox on wide open courses where he can bomb away with ease, but for what he possesses in power, the Scotsman lacks in accuracy. Jaeger is a far more precise driver of the ball, and Fox’s inability to find the short grass on a consistent basis could prove costly for him this week in Minnesota.
Matchup Results from the Open: Powers: 1 for 1 (McIlroy (+100) over Scheffler); Lack: 1 for 1 (Rahm (-130) over C. Smith); Caddie: 1 for 1 (Fleetwood (+100) over Koepka); Mayo: 1 for 1 (T. Kim (+100) over Young); Hennessey: 0 for 1; Gehman: 0 for 1; Gdula: 0 for 1
Matchup Results from this season (Wins-Losses-Pushes): Powers: 21-15-2 (up 5.81 units); Hennessey: 22-15-1 (up 5.62 units); Gehman: 21-15-2 (up 4.37 units); Lack: 16-11-1 (up 3.09 units); Caddie: 19-16-3 (up 1.94 units); Mayo: 15-20-0 (down 5.49 units); Gdula: 16-20-2 (down 6.23 units)
3M Open picks 2023: Top 10s
Caddie: Taylor Montgomery (+850, DraftKings) — The word is that Montgomery spent some time with Butch Harmon recently in Las Vegas, and Montgomery is striping it as well as he has all season. Look out for a big stretch run from the kid who can get super hot on the greens, too.
Mayo: Trevor Cone (+1800, DraftKings) — It may be all small sample size, but at this price, who cares? After a career best T-3 at the Barbasol, where he gained 13 strokes tee-to-green, he’s now gained on the field in seven straight with his driver, and three straight with his irons. The putter is hot and cold, but Bentgrass has been his best surface in 2023.
Gdula: Stephan Jaeger (+430, FanDuel) — Jaeger ranks seventh in SG/tee-to-green and is putting pretty well lately. He’s hanging around the top 10 in events similar to this one.
Gehman: Vincent Norrman (+550, DraftKings) — Norrman found victory in the opposite field at the Barbasol Championship two weeks ago and backed it up with a T-25 finish last week at the Barracuda Championship. He’s full of talent, but more importantly, power. He’s ninth on tour in driving distance and is cut from the same cloth as past champions – Tony Finau, Cameron Champ and Matthew Wolff.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Mark Hubbard (+500, DraftKings) — Hubbard quietly has three top-10 finishes in his past six starts and is playing some great golf. Though he struggles off the tee, he’s still fifth in my model I ran on RickRunGood.com this week—based on his stellar approach play (leading the field over the past 36 rounds), Birdie or Better percentage (13th) and his SG/total at TPC Twin Cities (11th).
Powers, Golf Digest: Garrick Higgo (+600, DraftKings) — Despite some brutal iron play, Higgo has still driven his way to three consecutive finishes of 33rd or better. At TPC Twin Cities, he can drive his way into the top 10 with ease so long as he doesn’t lose one too many on approach.
Lack: Austin Eckroat (+450, DraftKings) — While certainly overvalued by the market just a few weeks ago, this is the perfect time to buy back in on Austin Eckroat coming off a ho-hum finish at the Scottish Open. One of Eckroat’s biggest strengths is his accuracy off the tee, which is crucial at a course like TPC Twin Cities. The Oklahoma State product already has a 16th at the Minnesota track back in 2021, and he’s a far more mature and stronger player than he was two years ago. There’s also the Oak Tree National/Matthew Wolff connection to ponder. Both Eckroat and Wolff call the Pete Dye, water-logged Oklahoma course home, and given the character of both Oak Tree and TPC Twin Cities, it should not come as a surprise that this is a comfortable spot on the schedule.
Top-10 results from the Open: Gehman: 1 for 1 (Cameron Young +550); Everybody else: 0 for 1
Top-10 results from this season: Gehman: 12 for 38 (up 24.6 units); Hennessey: 7 for 38 (up 4.95 units); Gdula: 9 for 38 (up 4.2 units); Lack: 8 for 28 (up 4.4 units); Mayo: 7 for 35 (down 3.3 units); Caddie: 8 for 38 (down 4.4 units); Powers: 4 for 38 (down 11.9 units)
3M picks 2023: One and Done
Gehman: Emiliano Grillo — Grillo’s run at the Open ended with a T-6 and an eye-popping 8.5 strokes gained ball-striking. He also gained four strokes on the putting surfaces. That’s the fourth straight event that he’s been a positive putter and now he heads back to TPC Twin Cities where he finished T-2 last year and T-3 in 2020.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Emiliano Grillo. Sanderson Farms Championship: Sam Burns. Shriners: Taylor Montgomery. Zozo: Sungjae Im. CJ Cup: Matt Fitzpatrick. Bermuda: Denny McCarthy. Mayakoba: Viktor Hovland. Houston Open: Aaron Wise. RSM Classic: Brian Harman. Sentry TOC: Cameron Young. Sony Open: Hideki Matsuyama. American Express: Brian Harman. Farmers: Jason Day. AT&T Pebble Beach: Maverick McNealy. WMPO: Scottie Scheffler. Genesis: Justin Thomas. Honda: Sungjae Im. API: Rory McIlroy. Players: Jon Rahm. Valspar: Justin Rose. WGC-Match Play: Cameron Young. Valero: Rickie Fowler. Masters: Jordan Spieth. RBC Heritage: Collin Morikawa. Zurich: Kurt Kitayama. Mexico Open: Ben Martin. Wells Fargo: Viktor Hovland. Byron Nelson: K.H. Lee. PGA Championship: Xander Schauffele. Charles Schwab Challenge: Min Woo Lee. Memorial: Patrick Cantlay. RBC Canadian Open: Tyrrell Hatton. U.S. Open: Brooks Koepka. Travelers: Tony Finau. Rocket Mortgage: Cameron Davis. John Deere: Denny McCarthy. Scottish: Matt Fitzpatrick. Open: Dustin Johnson.
Hennessey: Cameron Young — I waited it out with Cam Young until his form is being to elite levels, so this is the perfect week to deploy him.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Cam Davis. Sanderson Farms Championship: Denny McCarthy. Shriners: Emiliano Grillo. Zozo: Hideki Matsuyama. CJ Cup: Sungjae Im. Bermuda: Mark Hubbard. Mayakoba: Viktor Hovland. Houston Open: Jason Day. RSM Classic: Brendon Todd. Sentry TOC: Patrick Cantlay. Sony Open: Matt Kuchar. American Express: Brian Harman. Farmers: Will Zalatoris. AT&T Pebble Beach: Seamus Power. WMPO: Collin Morikawa. Genesis: Justin Thomas. Honda: Chris Kirk. API: Keith Mitchell. Players: Rory McIlroy. Valspar: Adam Hadwin. WGC-Match Play: Tyrrell Hatton. Valero: Nick Taylor. Masters: Scottie Scheffler. RBC Heritage: Jordan Spieth. Zurich: Sahith Theegala. Mexico Open: Gary Woodland. Wells Fargo: Xander Schauffele. Byron Nelson: Tyrrell Hatton. PGA Championship: Jon Rahm. Charles Schwab Challenge: Justin Rose. Memorial: Corey Conners. RBC Canadian Open: Tommy Fleetwood. U.S. Open: Max Homa. Travelers: Tom Kim. Rocket Mortgage: Rickie Fowler. John Deere: Adam Schenk. Scottish: Min Woo Lee. Open: Brooks Koepka.
Powers: Sepp Straka — Man is on a heater right now and if you’ve already burned Finau, Young and Im, he’s the next best option.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Sahith Theegala. Sanderson Farms Championship: J.T. Poston. Shriners: Sungjae Im. Zozo: Hideki Matsuyama. CJ Cup: Tyrrell Hatton. Bermuda: Russell Knox. Mayakoba: Thomas Detry. Houston Open: Sepp Straka. RSM Classic: Davis Riley. Sentry TOC: Xander Schauffele. Sony Open: Gary Woodland. American Express: Cameron Young. Farmers: Taylor Montgomery. AT&T Pebble Beach: Maverick McNealy. WMPO: Sungjae Im. Genesis: Collin Morikawa. Honda: Chris Kirk. API: Will Zalatoris. Players: Patrick Cantlay. Valspar: Justin Suh. WGC-Match Play: Tom Kim. Valero: Matt Kuchar. Masters: Tony Finau. RBC Heritage: Rickie Fowler. Zurich: Robby Shelton. Mexico Open: Luke List. Wells Fargo: Viktor Hovland. Byron Nelson: Tom Hoge. PGA Championship: Brooks Koepka. Charles Schwab Challenge: Tommy Fleetwood. Memorial: Shane Lowry. RBC Canadian Open: Justin Rose. U.S. Open: Dustin Johnson. Travelers: Tom Kim. Rocket Mortgage: Ludvig Aberg. John Deere: Denny McCarthy. Scottish: Adam Scott. Open: Rory McIlroy.
About our experts
Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. Mayo helped create the golf stats and research website Fantasy National along with the Race for the Mayo Cup One and Done contest. Mayo won the 2022 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and is a finalist for three FSWA Awards in 2023 (Best Podcast, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 27 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are second-most all-time. Follow him on Twitter: @ThePME.
Brandon Gdula, managing editor and analyst for NumberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @gdula13.
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.
Andy Lack is a PGA Tour writer and podcaster from New York City who now resides in Los Angeles. He hosts Inside Golf, a twice weekly podcast focused on the PGA Tour, betting, daily fantasy, golf course architecture, and interviews, as part of the BlueWire podcast network. As well as contributing to Golf Digest, Andy is also a data analyst and writer for RickRunGood.com, where he covers PGA Tour betting and daily fantasy. He came to Golf Digest’s betting panel after previously writing for Golf.com, the Score and GolfWRX. In his free time, Andy can likely be found on a golf course. Follow him on Twitter: @adplacksports