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Nicklaus thinks next summer's 3M Open will 'have most of the good players'

BLAINE, Minn.—With conclusion of the final 3M Championship on Sunday, Aug. 5,, it's officially time to start looking forward.

The inaugural 3M Open, Minnesota's first regular PGA Tour stop in five decades, is just 11 months away. Paul Goydos, the 2017 3M Championship winner, said the Champions Tour was a "nice event" for the Twin Cities but the PGA Tour stop will be "the event of the summer in Minneapolis."

"Minnesota, we've had the very best at 50 and over for a long time," said executive tournament director Hollis Cavner. "And now it's time to go to the very best, period, and I think the state is going to be all over it, I really do. I think the crowds will be huge."

Some of that might depend on who Cavner and Co. can get to come to TPC Twin Cities over the Fourth of July weekend, but Jack Nicklaus doesn't think that will be much of an issue.

To start, Cavner demonstrated his promotional skills every summer with the star-studded Champions Tour fields present in Blaine each August. With a strong backing from 3M—the tournament's title sponsor—Cavner is likely to get at least a couple of big-name players out to Minnesota next summer.

That being said, Nicklaus said there's "about two or three things" that draw players to tournaments.

One is the golf course. Champions Tour players raved about the condition of the TPC Twin Cities course every year. Minnesota native Tom Lehman is helping consult on the renovation the course will endure this fall to make it hold up better to PGA Tour players—with an emphasis on adding length and narrowing fairways—but it'll generally hold its shape and look. Nicklaus said the course won't need to be changed too much.

Nicklaus said a tournament's purse isn't one of the main criterion, but noted "a little larger purse doesn't hurt." The 3M Open's expected purse of $6.6 million is fairly average compared to other tournaments on tour.

But, for Nicklaus, where a tournament sits on the schedule is the biggest thing. He always made his schedule based on the tour's schedule and what best fit his preparation for "what I wanted to work for"—which was major championships.

Nicklaus and Lee Trevino concurred that the 3M Open weekend—parked three weeks after the U.S. Open and two weeks before the British Open—is a good one to draw players.

"You'll probably get a pretty good field two weeks before the British Open, I would think," Nicklaus said. "I just think that where you're sitting, you'll have most of the good players."

If that's the case, there might not be a need for the evening fireworks shows Cavner has mentioned for that weekend. Four days of the world's best going at it on the Blaine course likely would provide more than enough excitement on its own.

Nicklaus estimated there are about 30 players that "are probably really good, and others that aren't far behind," as opposed to eight to 10 players of such caliber competing back during his playing days.

"I think that's very healthy for the game of golf, and it's also healthy to see you've got guys from other countries that are playing well," Nicklaus said. "I think golf is in a really healthy state."

Which means now might be the perfect time for the PGA Tour to finally make a regular stop in this state.

"I think you're going to enjoy it," Nicklaus said. "I think you've probably enjoyed the seniors here, and I think there's no reason why you wouldn't enjoy the regular tour a lot more."