Mize looks to break through at 3M Championship

Mize looks to break through at 3M Championship

BLAINE, Minn. (AP) — Larry Mize might be playing the most consistent golf on the Champions Tour, but he has yet to hoist a trophy.

Mize has five top-10 finishes in his last six events, including a second-place finish at the Senior PGA Championship in May.

“I’ve been playing well ever since just before The Masters,” said Mize, who finished 30th in his lone PGA Tour event this year. “I’d like to change the top-10s into wins here somewhere along the way.”

Eleven of his last 15 rounds have been in the 60s, with a high score of 72. He is tied for 11th on the tour with 15 rounds in the 60s, though six players above him have played more events.

“It’s just been a combination of hitting the ball well, putting well and just doing everything pretty good,” said Mize, who will be playing in his first 3M Championship this week at the TPC Twin Cities. Other first-time entrants include Fred Funk, Nick Price, Mark O’Meara, Hal Sutton and Mark Wiebe.

Mize will need to remain consistent on a course where R.W. Eaks shot 23-under last year to win by six shots. He played a “quick 18” Tuesday and liked what he saw of the 7,100-yard layout.

“I’m already getting my mind set that I’ve got to go out there and make a lot of birdies,” he said.

Mize is averaging 29.7 putts per round and went through a session to fine-tune his putting after a 10th-place finish at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open two weeks ago.

It was at the same tournament that Sutton found a solution to some of his putting woes by going to a shorter belly putter and using a split grip. He ranks 75th on tour averaging nearly 31 putts per round.

“I don’t actually touch my belly with it. I don’t anchor the butt of the putter like some guys. … I putted nicely with it out there today,” Sutton said after Wednesday’s pro-am.

Sutton has finished no better than 24th in his past four tournaments, after a third- and 11th-place finish in his previous two. He blames his putting.

In his first full year on the Champions Tour, Mize is third in Charles Schwab Cup points, 442 points behind Bernhard Langer in the season-long competition. Each $1,000 earned equals one point.

“To catch Bernhard and anyone else that is going to be up there – Loren Roberts, Fred Funk, Keith Fergus and a lot of guys are playing well – would be a tremendous accomplishment,” he said.

Mize estimates he’ll need to win at least a couple of tournaments, and probably a major – where the points are doubled – to overtake Langer.

Nonetheless, no matter how much success Mize has the rest of his career, he will always best be remembered for his 1987 Masters victory, beating Greg Norman by chipping in from 140 feet on the second playoff hole.

“It still comes up quite a bit. It’s not a bad subject for me to talk about,” he said as a smile crept across his face. “Any time you do something good, to remember that again is not a bad thing.”

Already one of the best attended tournaments on tour, competitors will likely be playing in front of even larger 3M Championship crowds because admission is free.

“We thought that after 17 years it was the right thing to do, to give back to the community,” said Hollis Cavner, the tournament director. “We just want people to come and enjoy.”

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