3M Championship hits the links in Blaine next week

The 20th annual 3M Championship tournament tees off July 30 through Aug. 5 at the TPC Twin Cities in Blaine. And for the fourth consecutive year, free admission is offered to all spectators.

Icons of the golf world, including the legendary Arnold Palmer, will compete in the Greats of Golf challenge during next week’s 3M Championship, staged at the TPC Twin Cities golf course in Blaine. File photo

Icons of the golf world, including the legendary Arnold Palmer, will compete in the Greats of Golf challenge during next week’s 3M Championship, staged at the TPC Twin Cities golf course in Blaine. File photo

Seventy-eight of the best Champions Tour professionals will hit the links for 54 holes of tournament play for a $1.7 million purse.

“The 3M Championship continues to be rated as one of – if not the best – tournament on the Champions Tour schedule by the players,” said John Hultquist, media co-chairman for the 3M Championship. “Nearly all of the top players on the Champions Tour have committed to play in the 3M Championship.”

Last year’s champion Jay Haas will defend his crown against dozens more golfing legends expected to compete in this year’s 3M Championship. Those notables include Nick Price, Fuzzy Zoeller, Bernhard Langer, Ben Crenshaw, Tom Lehman, Mark Calcavecchia and Fred Funk.

The first round of championship play begins at approximately 11 a.m. Friday, Aug. 3 with the second round scheduled to begin at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 4. The final round of championship play begins at 7:30 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 5.

Greats of Golf

For the ninth consecutive year, icons of the golf world – including Palmer, Lee Trevino and Chi Chi Rodriguez – will participate in the Greats of Golf Challenge, a best-ball tournament-within-the-tournament contest.

Three teams will compete in that Aug. 4 and 5 tournament and following each day’s play, the greats will take part in autograph sessions in the Pioneer Press Expo Tent.

Tee times are scheduled for 7:30 a.m. both days.

Amateurs on the links

This year, two grand prize winners of the “Fuzzy Needs a 4th” sweepstakes will golf with Fuzzy Zoeller in the Aug. 1 3M Championship Pro-Am.

The sweepstakes winners will receive the full VIP treatment as they play along with Zoeller as grand prize winners.

Aug. 7 a “Fuzzy Needs a 4th” first-prize winner will be announced. That person will receive an autographed 3M Championship poster signed by Zoeller himself.

To enter this contest visit 3MChampionship.com/FuzzyNeedsa4th.aspx.

As for players participating in the 3M Championship’s Pro-Am tournament, that list continues to be updated even the day of the pro-am itself, said Hultquist.

Teams of amateurs and pros compete for top honors with tee time set for 1 p.m. July 30.

The Women’s Pro-Am hits the links at noon Tuesday, July 31.

And the Insight Pro-Am is set to begin at 7 a.m. next Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 1 and Aug. 2.

Adding to the 3M Championship golf experience, the weekend of Aug. 3-5, the Pioneer Press Expo Tent and Family Fun Zone are open to all to see and enjoy.

Golfing for giving

Not only is the 3M Championship a showcase for golfing’s greats, it’s also a stage for charitable giving.

This year, the championship is set to achieve an unprecedented goal for a Champions Tour event, reaching $20 million in charitable contributions on the tournament’s 20th anniversary.

No other Champions Tour event has achieved that level of giving in that time frame.

For more about the 2012 3M Championship, visit 3MChampionship.com.

Sue Austreng is at sue.austreng@ecm-inc.com

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