The 3M Open turned out to be a life-changing event Sunday for 2019 NCAA Division I champion Matthew Wolff, who won the inaugural PGA Tour event in Blaine, Minnesota, with a dramatic eagle on the 72nd hole, and it nearly had the same impact on Charlie Danielson.
The Osceola native played his way into contention Saturday with a 7-under-par 64 and spent most of the day Sunday on the doorstep of a top-10 finish. In the end, Danielson settled for a 4-under 67 and a tie for 15th place at 14-under 270 — seven shots behind Wolff, who edged Bryson DeChambeau by one stroke, and just two shots shy of a top-10 finish that would have earned Danielson a berth in next week's John Deere Classic.
As it was, his 15th-place finish — Danielson's best showing in nine PGA Tour starts — earned him a career-best $92.960. His previous career best was $25,350 for his 58th-place finish at this year's U.S. Open. His combined earnings from those two events boosted him from a tie for 46th to a tie for 23rd in in non-member earnings on the PGA Tour at $118,310.
"I tried to keep results out of my head all day," Danielson wrote in a text message to Wisconsin.golf. "I had a feeling 6-under (Sunday) was what it was going to take for a top-10. But I tried to stay focused on my game."
Five shots behind co-leaders Collin Morikawa, DeChambeau and Wolff when the day began, Danielson opened birdie-bogey before making birdies at Nos. 4 and 6 to inch within two shots of the lead. Danielson made the turn in 2-under 33 after a bogey-birdie sequence at Nos. 7 and 8 and tacked on two birdies at Nos. 12 and 14 to get to 4-under for the day.
Unfortunately for Danielson, he dumped his approach shot at No. 15 in a greenside bunker and failed to get up-and-down for par. He got the shot back at No. 17, but — after flying his approach shot into the back bunker on the par-5 18th hole — was only able to blast out to 60 feet, two-putting for a par to wrap up an unforgettable week on the PGA Tour.
"It was a crazy week, but thats golf," said Danielson, who only survived the 36-hole cut after another golfer triple-bogeyed his final hole to let more than a dozen golfers — including Danielson — ahead of the cutline. "I knew I was fortunate to play the weekend so I wanted to take advantage of it. ... (I) tried to keep my strategy the same (Sunday); one shot at a time. I knew that there would be adversity and I would have to stay patient."
Danielson, who missed all of last year recovering from knee surgery, drew inspiration from Wolff's victory.
At 20 years, 2 months, 23 days, Wolff is the youngest winner of a PGA Tour event since Jordan Spieth, who had not turned 20 when he won the 2013 John Deere Classic. Wolff, making just his third PGA Tour start, joined Ben Crenshaw and Tiger Woods as the only golfers to win the NCAA individual title and a PGA Tour event in the same year.
"(That was) pretty cool for Matt Wolff," Danielson wrote. "He’s obviously playing tremendous golf and what a way to finish. It definitely gives me confidence but I need to continue to get healthier and build momentum for the rest of the season."
Wolff, who gained PGA Tour membership by virtue of his victory, was scheduled to play in this week's John Deere Classic on another sponsor's exemption, his fourth in as many starts. It is unclear if John Deere Classic tournament officials regain the sponsor's exemption Wolff was to have used and if Danielson, who received an exemption from the event played annually in Silvis, Illinois, in 2016, would be in line to receive it based on his recent run of success.
"Doesn’t look good for the JDC; we tried, though," Danielson wrote. "But I am still thankful for the spot I got in 2016."