July 06, 2009
Vartan Kupelian, PGATOUR.COM Contributor
Editor's note: Vartan Kupelian is the Champions Tour Insider and a PGATOUR.COM Contributor. Each week, Kupelian will size up the field and provide his top 5 players going into the tournament, based on factors such as the player's strengths, the course setup, recent performances, etc.
This week's 3M Championship marks the beginning of a key stretch in the Champions Tour schedule.
The next three events are majors: The Senior Open Championship at Sunningdale Old Course in England, July 23-26; the U.S. Senior Open at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Ind., July 30-Aug. 2; and the JELD-WEN Tradition at Crosswater Club at Sunriver, Ore., Aug. 20-23.
The total purse for those three Champions Tour majors is $7.3 million.
But first things first and that means the 3M Championship, where the question is: Will be there another runaway winner at the TPC Twin Cities?
|Power Rankings: 3M Championship|
| || ||Bernhard |
|He's back after playing the European Tour's BMW International Open in his native Germany against the kids. And, oh, by the way, he tied for ninth there with a 15-under-par total. Langer tied for second last year at the 3M Championship with rounds of 67-66-66.|
| || ||Lonnie |
|He admits he's at his best when his confidence is at its peak. Nielsen is coming off an impressive win and has played well at the 3M Championship, opening with 68-66 before a final-round 72 dropped him into a T15 last year. He also tied for second in 2005.|
| || ||Fred |
|His performance chart makes him an obvious contender with four straight top 7s, including a runner-up finish and a playoff loss. It looked like Funk was poised for the first win of '09 when he opened 64-65 at the Dick's Sporting Goods Open before Nielsen reeled him in.|
| || ||Jay |
|He's always near the lead, but so far Mr. Consistency hasn't won in 2009. That is likely to change soon. Haas has a T7 and a T5 in his last two starts, and six top-9 finishes this year. Finished second at the 3M Championship behind D.A. Weibring in 2007.|
| || ||Gene |
|Jones has four top-5 finishes this year, including a pair in the last five starts. A year ago, he posted a solid fourth-place finish at the TPC Twin Cities with rounds of 64-67-69. Jones is ninth in scoring average (70.09/33 rounds) and 10th on the money list.|
R.W. Eaks dominated to take the title last year, winning by 6 shots over Bernhard Langer and Gary Hallberg. Eaks' 54-hole total 193 was the best score in the tournament's 16-year history.