Three punter’s pointers for the 3M Open

The PGA Tour returns to TPC Twin Cities for a third time as the race towards the FedExCup PlayOffs heads towards its conclusion.

Best bets

Dustin Johnson to win 15/2

Chris Kirk first round leader 60/1

Tom Lewis Top GB&I 7/2

Major Championship season is complete for 2021, but there is plenty to play for at this week's 3M Open at TPC Twin Cities in Minnesota.

Not only it there less than a month until the field for the first FedExCup PlayOff event is finalised, other golfers are simply keen to confirm playing rights for the 2021-22 season.

A charter flight headed from London to Minnesota on Sunday night and, while many will have been a little exhausted by their week on the linksland, plenty of others will have been encouraged by their form.

They will take on an Arnold Palmer-designed course and the great man liked to provide a test that rewarded aggressive drivers of the ball.

Who can thrive? Let's take a look at three players with bold claims this week.

The favourite

The transformation in Dustin Johnson's game from the highs either side of New Year to the bizarre funk through the spring and early summer was something of a mystery.

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In 11 events starting at last August's WGC St Jude Invitational he won four times and had a high finish of T12th.

He's since played another 11 times and last week's tied eighth at Royal St George's was the best of them.

Asked what the problem was at the start of Open week he mumbled about shot shapes being out and his putting stroke going missing, but he identified nothing specific.

He then insisted: "I feel like the game is starting to get back to where it was.

"I putted consistently well for that time period, so just been working on the putter a lot. I feel like that ultimately can be the difference."

He opened 68-65, but a Saturday 73 hurt his hopes of challenging before he flew home on a wet sail with a Sunday 67 that had him repeating the mantra.

"I had a really good week, hit a lot of great shots," he said. "I'm happy with where the game is. Obviously, going into next week, I've got a lot of confidence, so looking for a good week."

This time last year he was having a terrible time of it.

He'd ended June by carding a 61 en route to victory in the Travelers Championship, but in July he scored 80-80 at the Memorial and withdrew from this event after a first round 78.

Immediately afterward the glory run began and he'll be hoping for a repeat.

Those three big scores can be forgiven: he was struggling with fitness.

The question is whether his form can recover so quickly.

The good news is that he likes another Palmer test in the northeast, TPC Boston.

He's never missed a cut there in 10 visits, has five top 10s, and carded 67-60-64-63 when winning there by a massive 11 strokes last August.

The fast starter

Chris Kirk bounced back to form with a victory on the second tier this time last year and he rode that wave right into the early months of 2021 on the PGA Tour.

He's well capable of low rounds and even posted four 65s at the Sony Open, as well another 65 at THE PLAYERS Championship.

Earlier last month he rediscovered that form with a first round 67 at Muirfield Village which was good for tied second and he was third after 36 holes in the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

We can even take heart from his round one 68 last week in Sandwich - the first time he had broken 71 before the weekend at the Open.

He has a strong record at Palmer's Bay Hill (four top 15s in his last five starts) and an even better one at Arnie's TPC Boston.

He won there in 2014, was tied second after 18 holes in 2012 and tied fourth there at the same stage in 2018.

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On his only visit to Twin Cities last year he opened with a 66 and added a pair of 69s when finishing T41st.

Another quick dash from the starting blocks is well within him.

The Euro challenger

It must have been odd for Tom Lewis last week.

The Englishman was the early hero of the 2011 Open at Royal St George's, claiming a share of the first round lead as a callow amateur.

Ten years on he found himself competing in the Barbasol Championship.

That might gnaw at the brain in a positive way this week when he faces a test that suits.

A couple of months after his Sandwich joy a decade ago Lewis won the Portugal Masters on a Palmer designed course and he repeated that success in 2018.

It was a triumph that, weirdly, led to him being in the States and not Sandwich last week.

Off the back of that second victory he hit form, earned enough PGA Tour points to chase a card at the Korn Ferry Tour Finals, and won the Tour Championship.

He still has that card, but he's not set the world alight so has become a PGA Tour journeyman rather than remained in the world's elite.

Victory here would help change that.

He played the event 12 months ago and finished a solid T32nd.

He shared the lead at halfway in the recent Rocket Mortgage Classic and closed last week with a 65.

He's got great claims in the Top GB&I market.

READ MORE: Post-Open pointers: Collin Morikawa triumphed at Royal St George's but what else did we learn?

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