Lee Hodges wins first PGA TOUR title with dominant wire-to-wire victory at 3M Open
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Written by The Associated Press
BLAINE, Minn. -- Lee Hodges rarely gets rattled, except perhaps during Alabama football games when he's rooting for his beloved Crimson Tide.
After using that unflappable demeanor to keep control of the 3M Open, Hodges finally let loose.
Hodges shot a 67 in the final round on Sunday for a wire-to-wire title at the 3M Open and his first PGA TOUR victory, setting tournament records with a 260 and a seven-stroke win.
“The process I went through, I’ll take this week forever,” Hodges said. “I’ll just try to keep replicating this week every time I show up to a tournament.”
Hodges, who started the day with a five-stroke lead on J.T. Poston, was up by three entering the par-5 last hole on his 65th career start. After Poston’s go-for-broke approach yielded a triple bogey, Hodges tapped in a short putt for his third birdie of the round.
Lee Hodges birdies No. 18 to win at 3M Open
“I had to try and give it a shot and see if there was some way I could make 3 there at the end and put some pressure on Lee,” Poston said.
The 28-year-old Alabama native hugged and hoisted his wife, Savannah, in celebration after she hustled out to the green to greet him. Then Jay Seawell, Hodges' college coach at Alabama, surprised him with a special appearance and a milkshake in hand. Not bad for a guy from the small town of Ardmore.
“I’m super proud to be from there and represent those people,” Hodges said. “Man, I’m sure there is a party going on in north Alabama right now.”
Poston shot a 69 to drop into a three-way tie for second place with Martin Laird and Kevin Streelman. Dylan Wu shot a 64 to match Keith Mitchell for fifth at 16 under.
Tony Finau, the defending champion and highest-ranked player at 10th in the FedExCup standings participating in this field, shot a 70 to land in a three-way tie for seventh.
Hodges shot a 63 on Thursday, a 64 on Friday and a 66 on Saturday to take a commanding lead into the final round at the TPC Twin Cities course in Blaine on a former sod farm in suburban Minneapolis. He had two eagles and two bogeys on Sunday.
Lee Hodges sends 257-yard approach to 2 feet for the Shot of the Day
With one previous top-three finish in 2022 at The American Express in La Quinta, California, Hodges said on Saturday he couldn't recall a five-shot lead in his entire career, amateur competition included, and felt as if he was “playing with house money” with his place on the TOUR next season secured.
“Last night, me and my wife, we ate dinner here and then we went to get some ice cream and I slept like a baby,” Hodges said.
Lee Hodges news conference after winning 3M Open
Entering the week in 74th place in the FedExCup standings, Hodges soared to 33rd with the $1.4 million prize and 500 FedExCup points for the win. He became the 23rd third-round leader or co-leader to win on TOUR this season, following Brian Harman last week at The Open Championship.
Poston entered the week in 60th place in the FedExCup standings and shot up to 38th.
Hodges set the 54-hole tournament record at 193, two strokes better than the score Scott Piercy took into the final round last year. Piercy proceeded to shoot a 76, including a triple bogey on No. 14, and squander a five-stroke lead with 11 holes to go. Finau shot a 67 and won the trophy by three strokes.
Hodges avoided that fate. His lead was cut from six to four when he three-putted the 15th hole and Poston, his final-round playing partner, smacked his second shot from the fairway to the green about 7 feet from the cup for his fourth birdie of the afternoon. But Hodges bounced right back to match Poston’s birdie on 16.
“He played great all day. We knew it was going to take something pretty special to pull it off,” Poston said.
Lee Hodges’ Round 4 highlights from 3M Open
Poston's second shot from the rough on the edge of the water glanced off the rocks on the retaining wall and ricocheted backward off the floating tournament logo before a splash that cost him a penalty stroke. His fifth shot rolled down the slope on the front of the green, and he overshot his first putt.
Beau Hossler gave his postseason bid a bump with a blistering 62 in the final round to tie the course record and finish at 13 under for the tournament, tied for 13th place.
The 28-year-old Hossler entered the week in 62nd place on the FedExCup standings. The top 70 players qualify for the three-stage Playoffs that begins Aug. 10 with the FedEx St. Jude Championship. There's one more stop on the TOUR next weekend at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, North Carolina, to move up -- or slide down.
Hossler made eight straight birdies from holes 9 through 16, one short of the PGA TOUR record. That included a 45-foot putt he holed on his second shot on No. 13 that had “no business” going in.