It's difficult to make sense of this year's 3M Open winner, Cameron Champ. He held off a trio of Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Jhonattan Vegas, all of whom finished two strokes behind Champ's 15-under number.
It was not straightforward. Champ went to the final hole needing just a bogey for the win, and he hooked his drive on the par-5 into a spot on the course that definitely brought double into play. Two shots later, he had 127 yards into the pin on No. 18, not a distance he's been all that adept at so far this season (189th on the PGA Tour in proximity from that distance). He stood it up to 3 feet.
Champ was nearly flawless on the weekend at TPC Twin Cities. A single double on Saturday was offset by 11 birdies over the last two days. This is the part that does not make sense. Champ, who is one of the five or 10 best drivers in the world, finished 40th in driving this week. He is one of the five or 10 worst putters on the PGA Tour, and he finished first in putting this week.
Statistically, this does not add up. It's not the only way it doesn't add up, either. This year, Champ has missed far more cuts (9) than he has top 50s (5). He missed the cut at four of his previous six events leading into this one.
There are other ways he doesn't make sense, too. If all you watched was ball flights and shot shapes off the tee, you would think Champ was one of the greatest golfers of all time. He flushes the golf ball. But over the course of his career to date, he's been a one-trick pony -- driver only with little else complementing his one elite skill.
Now, for one final twist here, it's kind of worked! Champ has now won three times on the PGA Tour in his first 74 starts as a professional -- more than Tony Finau, Tommy Fleetwood and Louis Oosthuizen combined. If winning is the goal, then Champ is meeting it despite his extreme inconsistency (he only makes the cut a little over half the time he plays).
Where he goes from here will be fascinating. The pedigree is good so far, and it will be intriguing to see what happens when, like this week at the 3M Open, he has extraordinary putting weeks. Or if his iron play jumps up a level or two.
Cameron Champ sometimes does not make very much sense, and his win this week at TPC Twin Cities is emblematic of that. Winning is a skill, though, and when Champ has gotten near a lead like he did on Sunday, he's converted more often than most golfers. That's a meaningful metric that is quite unusual, and it shows that this three-time winner has become an aptronym, which is a good thing to be when your last name is Champ. Grade: A+
Rick Gehman is joined by Kyle Porter, Greg DuCharme and Mark Immelman to break down and react to Cameron Champ's victory at the 3M Open. Follow & listen to The First Cut on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
Here are the rest of our grades for the 2021 3M Open.
Louis Oothuizen (T2): Oosty backed up his T3 at the Open Championship last week at Royal St. George's with another great finish this week. However, that second win -- either at a major or non-major -- still eludes him. Oosthuizen nearly dunked his approach on the final hole for eagle, but he still has yet to win in the last 10 years on the PGA Tour.
"I was happy to play this week," said Oosthuizen. "I sort of didn't really want to just think about last week, about not playing great on that Sunday and immediately quickly go back into tournament mode and then play this tournament. So, great track. We had a good time here this week and I'm just trying to see if I can go one better than all these seconds and thirds." Grade: A
Patrick Reed (T34): Reed played fine this week, but his weekend was upended by news that he's going to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics next week to replace Bryson DeChambeau, who had to withdraw because of a positive COVID-19 test result. Reed has a wild schedule over the next few days where he has to get tested three times, 24 hours apart, before flying from Houston to San Francisco to Tokyo. He'll arrive the afternoon before the competition.
"Anytime I can represent my country and go play for my country, I'm going to do it no matter what, no matter where it is, no matter what time zone or how I have to get there or anything," said Reed. "When they gave me the name Captain America, the fans did, it feels like an obligation and a duty of mine to go out and play for our country whenever I can and whenever I get the call. To be able to call myself not just an Olympian but a two-time Olympian is pretty sweet. I look forward to going over there and playing." Grade: B
Rickie Fowler (T34): After playing his first 48 holes in 11 under, Fowler played his last 24 in 5 over, including 4 over along on the par-5 18th. I'm not sure how much progress was made this week, but the good news here is that he rolled it beautifully. That's something he struggled with at the end of 2020 and beginning of 2021, but he's mostly righted the ship over the last few months, which is good considering that from 2015-19 he was basically a top-10 putter in the world. It's going to be interesting to see how Fowler sets up the rest of his schedule as he continues to sit on the FedEx Cup bubble. He doesn't have to worry about playing privileges next year because he has some exemptions he could use, but it would be odd to not have him in the postseason after he's been a mainstay for the last decade. Grade: B+