Minnesota Golf Association

Smith Putts His Way to First-Round Lead at 3M Championship

August 3, 2018

By Nick Hunter
  BLAINE, Minn. – Although Jerry Smith enters this week’s 3M Championship at TPC Twin Cities ranked 11th on the PGA Tour Champions in Putting Average for the season, he felt his game on the putting surface could still use some work.
“I talked to Kirk Triplett on the putting green the other day and just got his insight on what he saw and he offered a couple things and I probably tried to apply some of it out there today. It’s always nice to get somebody else to put some eyes on you,” Smith said following his opening round Friday. “I was actually up in Brainerd a couple weeks ago and saw Chris Foley, who is a good teacher up there at Cragun’s golf course and he gave his insight as well.
“I do feel like I’m a good lag putter and long distance putter. I’m not uncomfortable having those types of putts, but where I do get a little uncomfortable is if I haven’t lagged it as close as I’d like it. The shorter putts sometimes have given me some problems.”
The extra work resulted in a bogey-free round of 8-under par 64 Friday to take a two-shot lead to Saturday’s second round at the 26th and final 3M Championship at TPC Twin Cities.
“I feel very good how things went today. I’ve been playing okay throughout this season, but haven’t really had any rounds like today, and really since the first round of the year. I felt very good,” Smith said. “It wasn’t an easy round or stress-free 8-under par. I hit a lot of greens, which makes it nice, but when you’re 40 or 50 feet away, you need to take care of business.”
Beginning his first round on the 10th tee Friday, Smith rolled in birdie on each of his first two holes before making a good two-putt for par from 45 feet to remain at 2-under at the 16th. Missing the 17th green long, Smith was able to get up-and-down to save par and would two-putt for birdie at the 18th to turn at 3-under.
Rolling in his short birdie look at No. 1, Smith quickly moved to 4-under before making another up-and-down at the second to preserve his momentum early on his back nine. Finding his stroke with his flatiron, Smith would card four birdies over his next six holes and finished with yet another key long two-putt to save par at the nine, taking a two-stroke clubhouse lead at 8-under par 64.
Smith is looking for his second PGA Tour Champions victory and first since winning the Encompass Championship in 2015. In 14 events this season, Smith has notched eight top-25 finishes, including his season-best seventh-place finish at the Boca Raton Championship in February, netting nearly $260,000 in earnings for the season.
Smith ranks 10th in One-Putt Percentage on the PGA Tour Champions at 37.57 percent, and ranks 23rd in Putts Per Round for the opening round of a tournament at 29.08.
Chasing Smith when Day Two kicks off Saturday will be the foursome of Glen Day, Peter Lonard, Lee Janzen and two-time champion Kenny Perry, all of whom posted rounds of 6-under par 66 Friday.
Lonard’s opening round was highlighted by his ace at the 177-yard fourth hole with a 7-iron, while Janzen and Perry both made eagle at the par-5 18th hole to jump into a tie for second with Day and Lonard.
The 27th 3M Championship continues Saturday as the second round is slated to begin at 7:00 a.m. at TPC Twin Cities.
Players at the 3M Championship this week will wear red ribbons in honor of Bruce Lietzke, who passed away July 28 from glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. Lietzke, who claimed the first 3M Championship when the tournament moved to TPC Twin Cities in 2001, was 67-years-old.
Lietzke accumulated 13 PGA Tour victories from 1977 to 1994 and would go on to win seven PGA Tour Champions titles.
7,164 YARDS, PAR 72
1. Jerry Smith, 31-33—64
T2. Glen Day, 35-31—66
T2. Peter Lonard, 32-34—66
T2. Lee Janzen, 32-34—66
T2. Kenny Perry, 35-31—66
T6. Tom Gillis, 34-33—67  
T6. Jay Haas, 33-34—67
T6. Larry Mize, 34-33—67
T6. Scott Parel, 33-34—67
T6. Wes Short Jr., 33-34—67
T6. Kevin Sutherland, 32-35—67
For complete tournament results go to: www.pgatour.com/champions/tournaments/3m-championship/leaderboard.html


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