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Why there's fireworks over Minnesota's new PGA Tour event

The sixth hole at TPC Twin Cities. TPC.com

BLAINE, Minn. -- A country-rock concert. Fireworks. A food festival.

Oh, and the chance to spend a day following 156 of the best golfers in the world.

That’s how the 3M Open in Blaine plans to celebrate the July 4 holiday next summer.

The PGA Tour released its 2019 schedule on Tuesday, officially announcing Minnesota’s first tour stop in five decades will be played July 4-7 at the TPC Twin Cities course in Blaine.

“We’re going to put on a great show,” tournament organizer Hollis Cavner said Tuesday. “This is going to be a happening.”

Cavner is focused on fun for players and fans on and off the golf course, with dawn-to-dusk festivities planned for the opening round of the tournament, on Thursday, July 4.

On Independence Day, after a day of golf, fans will be treated to a music concert — held on the 18th fairway or driving range, pending PGA Tour approval — and then a fireworks show at the end of the evening.

“We’ll go from golf right into the concert and then right into the fireworks,” Cavner said.

Cavner had Toby Keith perform at a PGA Tour event he runs in Tampa in March, and said more than 20,000 people attended the show. He is hoping to get Darius Rucker to perform next year at another tournament he runs in Charlotte, N.C.

Tickets for the 3M Open will cost between $30 and $60 a day. There will be no admission for children age 15 and under.

“Tickets aren’t cheap, but we’re going to be below the PGA Tour average,” Cavner said.

Cavner plans to sprinkle celebrities and local athletes into his pro-ams in the days leading up to Thursday’s opening round, especially Vikings and Wild players.

Cavner said he expects to sell 40,000 to 50,000 tickets a day for the four days of competition.

And he will do this against the most Minnesotan obstacle of the year: Twin Cities families heading north to spend the holiday week at their lake cabin.

“We’ve done a lot of research, trust me,” Cavner said. “Not everybody goes to the lake. That was a concern, but the more we’ve looked into it, the better we feel about the week.”

The PGA Tour made sweeping changes to its 46-tournament schedule for 2018-19. The biggest shift was moving the PGA Championship from mid-August to mid-May; next year’s PGA will be held May 16-19 at Bethpage Black in New York. Also, The Players Championship moves up two months, from mid-May to March 14-17 in Ponte Vedra Fla., and the Fed Ex Cup playoffs shrinks from four events to three, culminating in the Tour Championship on Aug. 22-25 in Atlanta.

Those changes helped create a kind of midsummer Midwest Swing in the month between the U.S. and British opens: the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit on June 27-30, the 3M Open, and the long-standing John Deere Classic in Silvis, Ill., on July 11-14.

Last week’s PGA Tour event, held the July 4 week at The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., attracted a couple of big-name players in Bubba Watson and Phil Mickelson, but the leaderboard was dominated by golfers you probably haven’t heard of. Kevin Na, a 15-year tour journeyman who entered the week 65th in the world rankings, picked up his second tour victory and first since 2011, over Kelly Kraft, whose runner-up finish moved him from No. 186 to 124 in the world rankings.

“They got Bubba and Phil, so that’s pretty good,” Cavner said. “I want better.”

The PGA Tour made an annual stop in Minnesota from 1930-69, mostly at Keller Golf Course in Maplewood. But most of the top-level professional golf played in the Twin Cities area since then has been major championships: the 1991 U.S. Open, 2002 and 2009 PGA Championship and 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National in Chaska, and the 2008 U.S. Women’s Open at Interlachen Country Club in Edina.

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