Tom Lehman impresses at inaugural 3M Open

Lehman shot 7-under for the tournament to tie for 58th.

Tom Lehman prepares for his tee shot on the third hole of the 3M Open at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine, Minnesota on Sunday, July 7.

Nolan O'Hara

Tom Lehman prepares for his tee shot on the third hole of the 3M Open at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine, Minnesota on Sunday, July 7.

Nolan O'Hara

TPC Twin Cities was electric Sunday evening after 20-year-old Matthew Wolff drilled an eagle putt from the fringe, giving him his first-ever PGA Tour win at the inaugural 3M Open. 

But earlier in the week, it was native Minnesotan and former Gopher Tom Lehman who was turning heads. 

Lehman, 60, primarily plays on the PGA Tour Champions, but was given an exemption to play at this year’s 3M Open, and he made the most of the opportunity. He shot 7-under for the tournament to tie for 58th. His best round came on Independence Day, when, wearing all red, white and blue, Lehman shot a bogey-free, 4-under 67. Lehman was one of 10 in the field to go without a bogey in the opening round. 

“It’s a thrill for me to join these guys out here,” Lehman said after his round Thursday. “It’s a thrill for me to tee it up again with these guys who are so good and who represent the game so well.”

Despite being bogey-free, Lehman’s round Thursday wasn’t without its difficulties. He got himself into trouble on the par-3, No.8, when he overshot the green and his ball nearly rolled into the water. After a short conference with a rules official, Lehman chipped onto the green and drained the putt to save his par. The crowd roared. Following his terrific par save, another native Minnesotan, Tim Herron, hit a hole-in-one at the very same hole. The crowd roared again.

“Well, Minnesotans, they’re homers,” Lehman said. “They like the Joe Mauer’s of the world and the Kent Hrbek’s of the world. They love the homegrown people.”

Before the start of the 3M Open, Lehman told the Star Tribune his goal for the tournament was to simply make the cut. He did just that. Lehman shot a 2-under 69 Friday to put him at 6-under, three shots above the cut line. He kept his momentum going through Saturday when he shot a 3-under 68, 9-under through the first three days and only six shots behind the leaders. His good fortune didn’t continue Sunday. 

Lehman wasn’t able to make it four consecutive days under par. He shot a 2-over 73 Sunday to finish at 7-under. Despite his late struggles, Lehman played some excellent golf in what could be his final tournament in Minnesota. Whether Lehman plays another tournament in Minnesota again or not, his legacy at the 3M Open will continue. His course redesign is in part responsible for bringing the PGA Tour back to the state for years to come. 

“Yeah it’s a great day for Minnesota golf, for sure,” Lehman said Thursday. “I’m proud of this state and I’m proud of what we put up here for the players to enjoy. … They seem to really enjoy the course, thinking it’s a very fair test but not a pushover. So, I think if they all walk away from Minneapolis saying they had a great time and a great experience and loved it and can’t wait to come back, I think we’ve done a lot of things right.”