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3M Open head rips players off PGA Tour, calls Saudi Golf ‘a pain’

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The kid with a quirky swing who made a name for himself three summers ago as the first-ever winner of the 3M Open won’t be back at Blaine in 2022.

It is possible that he will never participate in a PGA Tour event again.

On Monday, Matthew Wolff was one of the latest players to defect to LIV Golf, the Saudi-backed big-money league that has taken over the professional golf conversation. Wolff, 23, was added to this week’s $20 million LIV event at Pumpkin Ridge in Portland, Oregon, the first to be held in the US.

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“It is money that changes the lives of these boys; I look at the guys who have taken it, and pretty much everyone. . . he is at the end of his career or he never had a career and he is done”.

Hollis Cavner, director of the 3M Open

Full of promise, fresh out of Oklahoma State, Wolff and his herky-jerky backswing rose to No. 12 in the world rankings on the heels of that 3M Open win in 2019 and subsequent successes. But he soon began to fade on the course and off, taking a 10-month hiatus in 2021 to deal with his mental health. He shot 15 in two rounds at the Masters in April and his tie for 40th at last week’s Travelers Championship was his first cut in six weeks. He is currently number 77 in the world.

“I’m disappointed that Wolffie went down that road,” 3M Open chief executive Hollis Cavner said Monday. “He’s struggling, let’s face it, and he just decided to take the easy money and walk away instead of fighting about not playing well and stuff like that.

“It’s life-changing money for these guys; I look at the guys who have taken it, and almost all of them … are at the end of their career or never had a career and they’re done. I understand where they are.” coming but I hate it.”

Wolff’s decision to join LIV Golf has long been rumored and he is among the youngest players on the PGA Tour to leave. This week’s field at Pumpkin Ridge includes career majors Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed and Phil Mickelson. All PGA Tour players opting into LIV events have been suspended by PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan. Some, like Johnson, have resigned their membership. Others, like Mickelson, stand firm.

On the other end of it all are events like the $7.5 million 3M Open, which is seeing its roster hurt by LIV players no longer appearing on a weekly basis.

“The Saudi Golf League is a pain,” said Cavner, who also referred to it as “exhibition golf” and predicted its demise within two years. “We’ve lost some players to them, but we’re going to win the long battle. After 30 years of doing this, I have the utmost confidence in the PGA Tour and what we’re going through and how we’re handling it.” “

An initial field update released by the 3M Open on Monday touts top winners Danny Willett, Jason Dufner and Lucas Glover, plus 32 players with wins in the past two seasons, including Sungjae Im, Fargo’s Tom Hoge, Tony Finau and 3M’s defending winner, Cameron. To bite.

Brandon Matthews, known for his impressive 350-yard drives on the Korn Ferry Tour, accepted a sponsor’s exemption along with former No. 1 amateur Cole Hammer (turned pro) and Edina native Mardy Fish. Best known for his tennis prowess, the 2004 Olympic silver medalist plays with a handicap index of over 2.8.

“We wanted to do something different. See how he would compete,” Cavner said. “He will not embarrass himself.”

Cavner hinted that a few more “top 20 player type” names could still commit to the July 21-24 tournament, which will once again take place the week immediately after the British Open. As in the past, Cavner chartered a transatlantic flight for the players and spent the past week in Connecticut courting the Travelers Championship practice range.

The difference this year is the number of players determined to skip the 3M Open and all other PGA Tour events.

“Do I agree with his business decision and his life decision? No, I don’t,” Cavner said. “But I’m not going to treat them any different. I could make them pay for dinner because they have all the money in the world, but I hate when some of them leave.”

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