By: Caitlin Moyer
BLAINE, MN - Minnesota Gophers alum Angus Flanagan is back in the field at the 3M Open for the second year in a row, but there are quite a few differences for the 22-year-old this year.
When he tees it up on Thursday morning at 8:51 a.m., he’ll be doing so for the first time as a pro on the PGA Tour, there will be fans in attendance, oh, and he’ll have a new putter, too.
“It’s still pretty surreal,” said Flanagan, who turned pro earlier this summer after graduating from the University of Minnesota. He finished 11th in the inaugural PGA Tour University Rankings which earned him a spot on the newly-created Forme Tour, where he’s played a couple of events thus far; however this is his PGA Tour debut as a pro.
“It was still surreal playing as an amateur, but now there’s obviously a bit more at stake. I’ve just got to block that all out and enjoy it. I’ve got my best friend on the bag, so we’re going to have some fun and see what happens.”
That best friend is Pete Jones, Flanagan’s former teammate at Minnesota.
“Pete caddied for me a month ago. It was my first actual pro event. He was really good on the bag. We get along really well. The dynamic’s really good. We just have a bunch of fun out there,” Flanagan said.
“He’s someone that, if I’m down, he likes to pick me back up and, if I’m riding the highs, he likes to ride them with me…so it’s a really good relationship. He knows my game probably better than I do.”
Flanagan described how, in Tuesday’s practice round, he thought he could get to the green with a 7-iron, but hit a 6-iron on Jones’ recommendation. He then also hit the 7, which ended up 15 yards short.
“I told him, ‘Yeah, that’s why I’ve got you here,’” Flanagan laughed. “I think we’ve come up with a good plan. Then, before I hit each shot, we’ll just make sure it’s 100% the right thing and then I’ll make sure I commit to it….because there’s nothing worse than not hitting a good shot with zero commitment.”
The native of Woking, England owes both of his appearances here at TPC Twin Cities to 3M.
“This year, I got a sponsor’s exemption through 3M, which I am very grateful for. I appreciate everything they’ve done for me because last year, I got one as well. I didn’t really know if I was going to get one as a pro, but it’s nice to know that I’m out here. I feel very welcomed.”
Before he turned pro, Flanagan also played in the Genesis Invitational in Los Angeles in February, so this year’s 3M Open will be his third PGA Tour event. Although he hasn’t yet made a cut in the two PGA or two Forme Tour events he’s played, the experiences have made his transition from amateur to professional a little easier and helped with his nerves.
“I struggled a bit (in the 2020 3M Open tournament)....my game was pretty good this time last year, I just let the nerves get the better of me… I’m excited to get out here as a pro. I know a lot of guys out here now. I played this one last year and then the Genesis Invitational in February, so I’ve had the experience of two pretty solid events to play in,” Flanagan said.
From those experiences, Flanagan learned that he was practicing too much and doing things he wouldn’t normally do, so this week, his strategy is to take a more relaxed approach, more in keeping with his personality and routine.
Having fans at this year’s event--especially with the added benefit of the course being just 20 miles away from his alma mater--should also help.
“I have some friends that are going to come out, so it will be nice to have some home support; it’s going to be a bit different playing with fans, but playing in the Walker Cup gave me some experience. It was fun playing in front of people. I kind of like showing off sometimes...most of the time to be honest,” he said as he grinned.
Flanagan is also quickly getting acclimated to the life of a pro, spending time on Wednesday morning in photoshoot for the PGA Tour and getting some new gear before taking his media requests.
“I got a big TaylorMade staff bag with my name on it and a Minnesota Gopher logo on the front of it, which is nice. I asked for that and it was cool they were able to do that” Flanagan said.
He also got a new TaylorMade Spider X putter on Monday.
“I got it on Monday and I’ve committed to it; I’ve been in love with it ever since. I’ve been playing well and will be doing some putting drills this afternoon. Then, I’ll call it a day, go back and relax, get some food in me and just rest up for tomorrow,” he said, reiterating his commitment to not over-practice this time around.
“My game feels pretty good at the moment. I just have to keep a good head on me and take the bumps with the smooth. Golf’s golf. I am out here to have fun and to enjoy it,” he said.