Why Erik van Rooyen is among 3M Open favorites

Tommy Fleetwood hasn’t played a competitive round of golf in more than four months, but the Englishman arrived in Blaine, Minn. this week as one of the favorites to win the 3M Open.

Never mind that he missed the cut in his last tournament, has yet to post a win on the PGA Tour and has never competed at TPC Twin Cities.

The 12th-ranked Fleetwood is one of only three players among the top 15 in the official world golf rankings in this week’s field.

Bettors flock to Tommy Fleetwood

Tommy Fleetwood
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He is being offered at +1500 by PointsBet, behind only Dustin Johnson (+1100), Tony Finau (+1400) and Brooks Koepka (+1400). Each of those three has teed it up multiple times since the PGA Tour resumed last month, while Fleetwood chose to remain in England rather than deal with quarantine restrictions on both sides of the Atlantic.

Johnson won two starts ago. Finau held the overnight lead last week before faltering in treacherous Sunday conditions. Koepka acknowledged he has played ‘so bad lately,’ but is furiously working on his game ahead of upcoming title defenses at the WGC – FedEx Invitational and the PGA Championship.

Fleetwood isn’t one of the Tour’s big hitters, which could be a hindrance at TPC Twin Cities, which Koepka deemed a bomber’s golf course.” But he is known as one of the world’s elite ball strikers who had not missed a cut in more than a year before stubbing his toe at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March before the tour hit pause because of the coronavirus pandemic.

That included a string of six consecutive top-20s before Bay Hill, which bettors clearly remember.

Fleetwood was responsible for 10 percent of the handle and five percent of the total outright winner bets at DraftKings as of Wednesday.

Erik van Rooyen ‘local’ favorite

The only more popular bet in the field was Erik van Rooyen. The little-known South African entered this week ranked 43rd in the field, but had garnered 10 percent of the handle and eight percent of the total bets at DraftKings while at one point being listed among the top 10 favorites at +3300 at PointsBet.

Erik van Rooyen
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Seem high for a player lacking a PGA Tour victory and having missed five of his past eight worldwide starts?

Consider that van Rooyen and his caddie both attended the University of Minnesota, where van Rooyen met his wife.

“We played this golf course a ton when I went to school here,” van Rooyen said this week. “Played the back nine (Monday) and all those memories came flashing back, so it’s really special for me to be here.

“There’s obviously a sense of comfortability being here. I’m staying with my in-laws this week and they’re fantastic, so it’s easy.”

Matthew Wolff’s first title defense

Twelve spots below van Rooyen in the world rankings is defending champion Matthew Wolff. He earned $1.152 million for his first PGA Tour victory and bought his first house.

Matthew Wolff
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The 21-year-old returns to TPC Twin Cities listed at +2200 by PointsBet, even with England’s Paul Casey. He was third at DraftKings with nine percent of the handle and six percent of the total bets, tied with Johnson just below Doc Redman (seven percent of the total bets).

Wolff held the third-round lead at the Rocket Mortgage Classic last month before finishing second to Bryson DeChambeau. He then missed a cut and tied for 22nd at the two events at Muirfield Village Golf Club.

While DeChambeau has been the talk of the Tour with his increased driving length, Wolff said he hits it plenty far and is more focused on controlling his swing.

“I’ve been trying to maybe not slow my swing down, but maybe just stay grounded a little more, be a little more controlled with my swing,” Wolff said. “I feel like that’s allowed me to control the ball flight a little more and the spin a little better.”

Henrik Norlander: Longshot playing well

Sweden’s Henrik Norlander could be a good longshot play. He is listed at +5000 at PointsBet and +6600 at DraftKings after a tie for sixth last week. He has also made the cut in each of his past four events.

Norlander has been responsible for three percent of the handle and three percent of the total bets at DraftKings, where he is +1100 to finish in the top five and +500 to finish in the top 10 this week.

–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)