Frankie Capan III fulfills hometown dream at the 3M Open

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Frankie Capan III fulfills hometown dream at the 3M Open

    Written by Paul Hodowanic @PaulHodowanic

    BLAINE, Minn. – Frankie Capan III has long dreamed of playing the 3M Open. He’s gotten close before, too.

    A native of Stillwater, Minnesota, TPC Twin Cities is less than 15 miles from where he grew up. Capan, a Korn Ferry Tour member, tried multiple times to crack the field through the Monday qualifier while in college, each time falling just short.

    So when 3M Open Tournament Director Mike Welch called offering a sponsor exemption to this year’s tournament, it must have been an easy yes, right?

    Not exactly.

    “I was kind of on the fence about it,” Capan admitted Wednesday.

    There was no souring on his hometown event. Capan wanted to play it more than ever. His only worry was where else he could be that week. Currently in his first season on the Korn Ferry Tour, Capan has spent much of the last three months on the bubble. While PGA TOUR members are worried about cracking the top 70 for the Playoffs in two weeks, Capan is eyeing a top-30 finish on the Korn Ferry Tour Points List, which would earn the 23-year-old full status on the PGA TOUR for next season. He’s currently 34th and within 60 points of cracking the top 30. Since a T3 finish at the HomeTown Lenders Championship at the end of April rocketed him up to 33rd in the standings, Capan has been straddling the line of potential TOUR membership. A mixed bag of results (two missed cuts and two top-6 finishes) over the last seven weeks has led to Capan’s spot on the Korn Ferry Tour Points List fluctuating anywhere between 30th and 40th.

    Missing any week could mean the difference between another year on the KFT or a spot on TOUR. Capan’s well aware of that. But after seeking the advice of family and fellow KFT member Kevin Dougherty, Capan decided the chance to come back home and compete in his third career TOUR event was too enticing to pass up.

    “If I were to play the Korn Ferry event this week, I would probably end up playing seven weeks in a row, which can be a lot, a lot of travel, a lot of golf,” he said. “This week is nice because even though I'm playing, I'm also staying at home. Even though I'm putting all my energy into this tournament this week, at least I'm able to spend some time with my family and sleep in my own bed, which I haven't had the opportunity to do that in a while.

    “And also with the points I've accumulated throughout this year and with the way I feel like I've been playing, I'm confident that I'll be able to get the sufficient amount of points in the last seven events to close out the year,” he said.

    Capan’s confident about his chances at his hometown event, too. The Florida Gulf Coast alum can go low with the best of them. He ranks 12th on the Korn Ferry Tour in birdie average – and plenty will be needed at TPC Twin Cities, which has yielded an average winning score of 18-under in its four-year history. Just to gain his Korn Ferry Tour card, Capan successfully navigated three consecutive Q-School stages – pre-qualifying, First Stage and Second Stage – and was beaten by a total of two people. He finished eighth at Korn Ferry Q-School Finals to earn partial status this season.

    And he will have the same caddie on the bag that helped him navigate through that stressful stretch last year: his mom, Charlynn.

    Frankie Capan III prepares for 3M Open with mom on the bag

    “Originally she was supposed to be just a fill-in caddie and the more success we had, the more we realized that she should just keep staying on the bag,” Capan said. “Obviously when we went through Q-School and only lost to nine people, it was pretty evident that she should stay on the bag for a little longer.”

    Charlynn was there when Capan made it through Final Qualifying for the U.S. Open earlier this year – and again at The Los Angeles Country Club for his first career major championship appearance.

    The duo keeps it serious on the course. As Capan made his way around Wednesday’s pro-am, Charlynn discussed pin locations and potential clubs to take into certain greens. Capan handles most of his yardages during tournament play, but Charlynn is there for support every step of the way. The mom instincts kick in sometimes, too. Capan is “the most hydrated” golfer on the course and has his mom to thank for that.

    They make sure to keep some boundaries, too. When the two leave the course, they stop talking about golf. And when they are on the road, Capan will normally stay with a friend on the Korn Ferry Tour while his mom and dad will stay elsewhere.

    Frankie Capan III on having his mom as caddie for 3M Open

    Capan is fully embracing the familial aspect this week, though. There are no separate hotels or grocery runs. He’s back at home, giddy about what this week might hold.

    “To win a PGA TOUR event in any state would be something special, but to do it here, it would be a little ridiculous,” Capan said. “I mean I'm sure we would be celebrating probably into Tuesday of next week.”

    That would also quell any fears of a missed opportunity on the Korn Ferry Tour. For now, Capan is dreaming. He will worry about next week when it comes.