Jace Frederick: There’s beauty and meaning within each week of the PGA Tour, including at this week’s 3M Open
'Each tournament means something — usually a lot — to a number of people.'
BLAINE, Minn. — Andre Metzger is 40 years old and has traveled the continent chasing a dream he’ll realize this week in Blaine, Minnesota. After years spent playing on lower-level tours, Metzger will finally make his first PGA Tour start off the 10th tee of the 3M Open at 2:12 p.m. Thursday.
After nearly giving up on his golf dreams last year, Metzger survived a playoff by making a lengthy birdie putt on the third extra hole of Monday’s qualifier. PGA Tour videos of Metzger describing his putts, and then the subsequent phone call he made to his wife to share the news, prominently displayed the emotion derived from his achievement.
There is no doubt Metzger spent the week dreaming about the possibilities for this week at TPC Twin Cities, knowing full well what four days of magic could mean to his career. The same is true for so many who will tee it up in Round 1 on Thursday.
There is always a sense of lull from the general public that’s induced by the official end of golf’s major championship season. Following Sunday’s fantastic finish at The Open, there is a natural struggle to move on and find importance in the next nine months until the first tee shot of the first round of The Masters in April.
In golf, everything on the calendar centers on those four major championships, with most of the other “big events” intertwined within that four-month period in which many of the game’s best players build their schedules and aim to peak.
There is so much build-up and anticipation for that window that when it closes, the question arises as to whether the many, many events being played outside of that window truly matter.
Don’t tell that to the bevy of competitors — who are among the very best golfers in the world — taking to the course this week in an attempt to attain, revive or elongate their dreams. Don’t tell that to Andre Metzger, nor Jeff Overton, who is playing in his first event since 2017 after a long bout with a spinal infection.
Both players have one week — this week — to make good on their opportunities. Most others are down to just a couple more than that.
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has championed the “meritocracy” that is the world’s top tour. You earn what you get and you get what you deserve. If you don’t produce at a high-enough level over a certain period of time, someone else waiting in the wings is eager to take your position.
That’s why this week and this tournament matter to so many. It’s another opportunity for elite golfers to prove themselves and cement their place on the tour they’ve worked so hard to reach.
For the likes of Scott Piercy, Doc Redman, Harry Higgs, Greyson Sigg, Kramer Hickok, Doug Ghim and many more, it’s a fight over these next three weeks to finish inside the top 125 of the FedEx Cup standings — of which they’re all hovering in and around — to earn their spots in the playoffs and, thus, secure their PGA Tour status for next season.
They would all love to go the way of Cam Champ, who emerged from struggles last season to win in Blaine and, thus, secure his spot on tour for at least two more seasons.
For players like Rickie Fowler and Jason Day, every week is another chance to re-find form, reclaim former glory and re-route careers back onto a winning track.
Then there are those like Sahith Theegala and Davis Riley, who are very secure in their places on Tour but know a victory down the stretch run could be what moves either of them past Cameron Young, who is taking this week off, in the race for PGA Tour Rookie of the Year.
On this tour, every week is like a campaign unto itself. The first two days mark the regular season, the third round signals the start of the playoffs, and the back nine on Sunday feels like the Super Bowl. Because for someone out there, it is.
Each tournament means something — usually a lot — to a number of people.
For every elite player who’s merely looking for another trophy to collect and another massive paycheck to cash, there are 10 pros fighting as though their careers are on the line — because they just might be — and a few others trying to take advantage of what is perhaps their lone bite at the apple by turning it into something more.
Then many of them will hop on a flight next week to Detroit to try to do the same all over again. If this week isn’t their moment to make it all happen, they’ll hope the next one is.
If they can’t, then they might not even get the opportunity to make a return trip to TPC Twin Cities next summer, as someone else will have earned it instead.
That’s why there’s a sense of urgency, week in and week out. That’s why every tournament matters. That’s the beauty of it all.
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