Thompson wins 3M Open by 2 strokes in Minnesota

Michael Thompson after winning the 3M Open golf tournament in Blaine, Minn., on Sunday. (AFP)
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Updated 28 July 2020

Thompson wins 3M Open by 2 strokes in Minnesota

  • Thompson birdied two of the last three holes Sunday for a 4-under 67

BLAINE, Minn: Without a gallery around him on the 18th green, Michael Thompson settled for a subdued victory celebration at the 3M Open with a FaceTime call home to his wife and children in Georgia.

The tears came from him and his wife as soon as they saw each other on the screen.

Thompson birdied two of the last three holes Sunday for a 4-under 67 and a two-stroke victory, finishing off his second PGA Tour win seven years after his first.

“It is a little sad that there wasn’t anybody out there to cheer on some of the great shots that I hit toward the end, but I know everybody who’s rooting for me at least was watching and screaming at their TV,” Thompson said. "This is definitely a win for everybody who supported me throughout the years. It doesn’t diminish the excitement."

Adam Long  was second after a 64. Richy Werenski, who had the 18-hole lead and shared it with Thompson after both Friday and Saturday, shot a 70 for his worst round of the tournament and settled for a nine-way tie for third — three strokes back.

Tony Finau finished in the third-place group, too, after a 68. Finau was the only one among the five world top-30 players in the field to reach the weekend, far outperforming fellow high-profile peers Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Tommy Fleetwood and Paul Casey.

Thompson finished at 19-under 265 at the TPC Twin Cities. He was more nervous than he anticipated, even without spectators.

“It means so much to get a win, and it gets you into so many different tournaments and solidifies your job for two more years. That’s enough pressure for anybody, let alone having fans out there,” said Thompson, who has a 3-year-old son and an infant daughter he and his wife adopted in March.

Nobody throughout the windy and muggy week in Minnesota was steadier than Thompson, who entered the week 151st in the FedEx Cup standings and rocketed up to 39th on the way to Tennessee for the World Golf Championships event. He had three bogeys in 72 holes.

He hit solidly out of the sand to set up a birdie on the 16th and take sole possession of the lead. He deftly steered around the water danger on the 18th, landing his approach on the back of the green within 15 feet. With Long in the clubhouse, having played five groups ahead, Thompson had two putts to win. He needed only one, bending backward and thrusting his arms straight up in the air after the ball dropped in the cup.

Thompson's best previous finish in this stopped-and-restarted 2020 season was a tie for eighth at the Travelers Championship in Connecticut, and he missed the cut in his last start at the Workday Charity Open in Ohio two weeks ago. 

For this win, he not only secured a spot in the PGA Championship, the US Open and next year's Masters, but a prize of $1,188,000. That's nearly 12% of his career earnings on the tour. The U.S. Open, rescheduled for Sept. 17-20, is at Winged Foot in New York, which Thompson called his favorite course “in the entire world.”

In stroke play over the last four seasons, Finau has finished 35 rounds inside the top three, by far the most without a win on tour over that stretch. Tommy Fleetwood (20) has the second most.

“They don’t give out second-place trophies, third-place trophies,” said Finau, who shot a 78 on the final round of the Memorial last week to finish eighth in Ohio after sharing the 36-hole lead there. “I’ve learned that the hard way with lot of them coming early in my career, but I continue to just believe and hope for the best for my future.”

Finau and Werenski were joined in third by Robby Shelton, who shot a 64 on Sunday, as well as Charles Howell III, Emiliano Grillo, Alex Noren, Max Homa, Cameron Tringale and Charl Schwartzel.


Man United, Inter favorites for Europa League finale

Updated 10 August 2020

Man United, Inter favorites for Europa League finale

  • All games from the quarterfinals onwards will be played as one-off ties across four venues

PARIS: Manchester United, Inter Milan and Sevilla headline a quintet of former champions traveling to Germany for a remodeled eight-team straight knockout tournament that will crown the winner of a Europa League campaign heavily disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

All games from the quarterfinals onwards in this season’s competition will be played behind closed doors as one-off ties across four venues — Cologne, Duisburg, Dusseldorf and Gelsenkirchen — following a five-month interruption.

While a Champions League berth still awaits the victor of the final in Cologne on Aug. 21, much has changed since the COVID-19 outbreak that brought European football to a standstill in March.

“There are rules and regulations on the bubble that’s going to travel. We’ve got to stick together, stay together in and around the hotel and the training ground,” United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said of the strict health protocols clubs must respect.

Players and staff will undergo virus testing before departing for Germany and again on the eve of a match once arriving, a process repeated for each subsequent game in the final tournament.

UEFA has advised teams to travel on charter flights and minimize contact with the general public, strongly recommending the use of exclusive hotels — to which players will largely be confined — in order to avoid potential cross-contamination.

Masks will not be required for substitutes and coaching staff but they must maintain social distancing when seated, with players instructed to limit contact as much as possible when warming up. Match balls will be disinfected before kickoff and at half-time.

United, the 2017 winners, face FC Copenhagen in Monday’s quarterfinal in Cologne while Serie A runners-up Inter take on Bayer Leverkusen in a clash of former UEFA Cup champions at Dusseldorf Arena.

England forward Jesse Lingard, who played in United’s 2-0 win over Ajax in the final three years ago, is confident the team can capture the title for a second time.

“We can’t wait to get there and play this game now. 100 per cent I want to win it again,” Lingard told MUTV.

“Lifting a trophy is a special feeling you can’t really explain and winning it before you take that confidence forward. We have got a mixture of youth and experience in the squad and for the young lads to win their first trophy, it will be perfect for them.”

Should United advance to the last four they would face either Sevilla — who have won the Europa League and its precursor, the UEFA Cup, a record five times — or Premier League rivals Wolves in Cologne
on Aug. 16.

Wolves are through to a first European quarterfinal since 1972 but were punished by UEFA in midweek after failing to comply with Financial Fair Play requirements. They take on Sevilla in Duisburg on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Inter beat Getafe 2-0 in a single-leg last-16 tie Wednesday in Gelsenkirchen, and Antonio Conte’s men harbor hopes of adding to the three UEFA Cups won in the 1990s.

“This is an important competition. It doesn’t matter where and under what conditions you’re playing, you should only be focused on the upcoming match,” midfielder Christian Eriksen told Inter TV.

“It’s certainly not as fun playing without fans, the atmosphere isn’t there. We’ll try to excite them while they’re watching on TV, and we’re hoping that we’ll be able to embrace our supporters again soon.”

Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk, winners of the 2009 edition, play Swiss outfit Basel in the other quarterfinal in Gelsenkirchen.

This year’s Europa League final was initially due to be played in the Polish city of Gdansk in late May before the health crisis forced a change of plans.

Gdansk will host next year’s final instead.