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Pavin May Surprise in 3M Field

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August 3, 2017

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A Thursday notes column with golf up first:

Ask Hale Irwin who he thinks will win the 3M Championship in Blaine this weekend and you will hear several names. Yes, he likes Bernhard Langer who won the Senior British Open last Sunday in Wales and is among the hottest pro golfers in the world.  Corey Pavin is far down the list of senior money winners this year but he finished second in Wales, and Irwin wouldn’t be surprised if Pavin wins the 3M, a regular stop on the PGA Champions Tour. Irwin–with more wins and money earned than anyone else on the senior tour—believes Pavin “is getting his game back after his surgery” and could win his first 3M title.

“I kind of like the gutsiness of a Corey Pavin,” told Sports Headliners today. “He’s the kind of guy that has proven time and time again, ‘I don’t care how far you hit it past me, I am going to beat you.’ That attitude I love.”

Irwin, who isn’t playing in the 3M, predicts competitive play at the TPC Twin Cities course and the field certainly could produce a winner other than Langer or Pavin. “This golf course…is really kind of wide open for the field,”said Irwin who won the 3M three times. “With the rain we’re going to have it’s going to be soft, so go with a longer (hitting) player. Kenny Perry, who won here a couple years ago, that’s another name that jumps out. Scottie McCarron, another long hitter, he’s playing well.”

What does Irwin think of Langer who won the 3M as recently as 2012 and leads the tour this year in earnings? He praised the German player’s work ethic and preparation, and how well he is playing. “I would say that he’s probably playing at the age of 60 as well as he’s played maybe his entire life,” Irwin said.

The Vikings play the first of their four preseason games next week against the Bills in Buffalo. An opening preseason game is a glorified scrimmage, with many obscure players on the field trying to make the roster. It’s a valuable evaluator for coaches and front office authorities but for fans there are few snap judgments worth making.

Dalvin Cook (photo courtesy of Minnesota Vikings)

What does put some zip in next Thursday’s game is the anticipated debut of rookie running back Dalvin Cook. Fans and media have been looking forward to seeing him since the Vikings moved up in last April’s NFL Draft to select the former Florida State All-American who could as become a starter and Adrian Peterson’s replacement.

Back in May, Vikings veteran talent evaluator Scott Studwell was upbeat about Cook’s rookie season. “He’s going to play early and he’s going to play a lot,” Studwell told Sports Headliners. “We’ll see how it all shakes out.”

Cook can run with not only elusiveness but power. Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said Cook is even making improvement as a pass blocker.

“Yes, he has done a good job,” Shurmur said yesterday. “I don’t see any elements of running back play that he can’t be very good at and pass protection is one of them.”

An email sent Monday by the Vikings to past group customers was offering $30 tickets for the team’s final home preseason game Thursday, August 31 against the Chargers. Stubhub.com listed $11 tickets as of yesterday morning.

A Division III single game football attendance record of 17,535 was set last fall at UW-Whitewater against UW-Oshkosh. St. Thomas and Saint John’s could break that record when the two teams meet for the first time at Target Field on September 23. With the Gophers having a bye, the Tommies and Johnnies will have the spotlight college game in this marketplace.

Lindy’s college football magazine includes both the Tommies (No. 3) and Johnnies (No. 4) in its preseason top 25 Division III poll. This is the first time both programs are listed together in any top five of a Division III poll/ranking.

The Tommies, who are the home and host team, have signed up a presenting sponsor for the September 23 game. Twin-Cities-based Oppidan is a property development firm working in real estate, asset management, brokerage services, construction management and project management.

Steven Richardson, the Gophers squatty defensive tackle who is about 6-feet tall and 300 pounds, is working at lifting his hands up quicker after new defensive coordinator Robb Smith gave him that suggestion. Richardson was third-team All-Big Ten last season as a junior.

Do Smith and his assistants use a more intense coaching style than last year under head coach Tracy Claeys and his aides? “Oh, absolutely,” said Gophers linebacker Blake Cashman. “This coaching staff, they’re all over the place, bringing a lot of energy. It fuels us to get us going, and makes practices a lot of fun.”

When the first national college hockey rankings come out just before the season begins, coach Don Lucia’s Gophers will be in the top 10—maybe top five. Minnesota will be the highest ranked Big Ten team in a league where newcomer Notre Dame might have been more powerful but was hurt by players turning pro early and Wisconsin is still rebuilding.

The Twin Cities Pro Am basketball league has its playoff championship game at DeLaSale High School tonight starting at 6:30 p.m. with Team Jones playing Errol Carlstrom Playaz.

Saint John’s will be among the favorites to win the men’s MIAC basketball title next season. The Johnnies return all their starters including all-league first teamers David Stokman and Tyler Weiss. Stokman, a guard, and Weiss, a post player, are high percentage shooters.

Stokman led the MIAC in three point field goal percentage last season at 50.3 percent. “He is an incredible shooter, one of the best pure shooters I have seen,” an MIAC follower and college administrator told Sports Headliners via email.

Weiss was second in MIAC field goal percentage, making 59.2 percent of his shots and trailing Bethel junior center Derek Magnuson (62 percent).

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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