Golf: 3M Championship on tap

Gazette file photo by Stuart Groskreutz
Minnesota native Tom Lehman returns for this week’s 3M Championship, where he tied for second place a year ago. The Champions Tour event kicks off with the first round on Friday and runs through Sunday at the TPC Twin Cities in Blaine.

The 3M Championship is celebrating two milestones with the start of this year’s Champions Tour event, which runs Friday through Sunday at the TPC Twin Cities in Blaine. This marks the 20th anniversary of the popular tournament, which started as the Burnet Senior Classic at Bunker Hills in 1993, and the event is also scheduled to surpass the $20 million mark in charitable contributions.

This is the fourth consecutive year the 3M Championship will offer free admission for spectators and the tournament also boasts the popular Greats of Golf Challenge, which is a best ball tournament contested on Saturday and Sunday with legends Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino and Chi Chi Rodriguez among those scheduled to compete.

There has never been a repeat winner in this event, which doesn’t bode well for defending champion Jay Haas, who held off Tom Lehman, Kenny Perry and Peter Senior by one shot to win a year ago. Three-time champion Hale Irwin, who is also in this year’s field, is the only player to win the tournament more than once.

In addition to drawing most of the top players on the Champions Tour, the 3M Championship will feature several local favorites — including tour regulars Tom Lehman and John Harris. Local pros Dave Tentis and Don Berry are also in this year’s field.

Other top players who are entered include: Mark Calcavecchia, Brad Faxon, Fred Funk, Tom Kite, Bernhard Langer, Larry Mize, Larry Nelson, Mark O’Meara, Steve Pate, Kenny Perry, Nick Prize, Loren Roberts, Scott Simpson, Jeff Sluman, Craig Stadler, Hall Sutton and Fuzzy Zoeller.

Need evidence these seniors can still play, Calcavecchia recently placed ninth in The Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, just three shots behind Tiger Woods.