This week’s tournament on the PGA Tour will be the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club (North) in Detroit, Michigan. The course will play as a par 72, measuring 7,340 yards, and will be putt on bentgrass and poa annua greens.
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The Rocket Mortgage Challenge will be the first tournament since the PGA Tour’s return that will not host the top 5 golfers who played in the previous three. Tony Finau, Rickie Fowler, Tyrrell Hatton, Kevin Na and Patrick Reed will all be in attendance as well as defending champion Nate Lashley, who opened his 2019 campaign with a 9-under par 63 and followed it up with another 9-under score in round 3.
Detroit Golf Club (North) will be hosting its second tournament on Tour and will be the first par 72 since coming back from the COVID-19 shutdown. The scorecard will have the full complement of par 5s and par 3s along with an even balance of par 4s ranging from 372 yards (No. 8) to 461 yards (No. 6).
The course should play as a typical Donald Ross design with positional golf off the tee as well as precise approach shots into average size (5,150 sq. ft) greens. With higher than average driving distance, greens and fairways hit in regulation percentage over Tour average last season, the golfers should have another test of who can score at an impressive rate while not worrying too much about the occasional bogey. Last season the course played reasonably simple, ranking as the eighth easiest in scoring relative to par while recording the 14th-most eagles and second-most birdies on Tour. The course will have 87 bunkers with just one water hazard that will only come into play on one hole, a lot different than last week. Along with the bevy of bunkers, the course plans to increase its difficulty this year. Per the Detroit Free Press, Detroit Golf Club is, “expected to grow the rough longer to increase the difficulty from last year,” which means we may want to put a little more emphasis on driving accuracy this week.
Golfers should be able to score on the par 5s, but we should also be focusing on those who play par 4s particularly well with such a wide variety this week. Similar to Pete Dye, Donald Ross courses emphasize ball-striking and a sharp short game. Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green, putting and birdies or better gained should all be the key statistics we should focus on when building our lineups this week.
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Patrick Reed ($10,500)
Reed didn’t light up the strokes gained categories like Dustin Johnson last week but played very well, shooting a 6-under (64) on Sunday and gained 4.6 strokes Tee-to-Green. Reed has been impressive, ranking seventh in birdies or better gained over his past dozen rounds and has one of the best short games on Tour ranking inside the top 30 in Putting and Around-the-Green over the same timeframe. He’s one of three in the $10,000-range who played here last season and hit it the best of the bunch, gaining 7.6 strokes Tee-to-Green and finishing fifth.
Sungjae Im ($9,800)
The hype has cooled down a bit after his missed cut at the RBC Heritage and finishing 58th last week. He’s lost strokes through approach and putting in his previous two tournaments, which may be signs of fatigue. We shouldn’t worry too much about his energy levels or his irons - we’ve seen him play long stretches of golf in his short career on Tour already, and just a few weeks ago Im gained 5.6 strokes Tee-to-Green at Colonial CC. We should expect to see more of this than what he’s done over the past couple of tournaments.
Bubba Watson ($9,200)
Watson’s disappointing week ended in a missed cut at a place he’s won three times already. Bubba still gained 3.7 strokes Tee-to-Green last week but lost 3.3 on the greens en route to his early departure from TPC River Highlands. Watson has shown the ability to perform well on par 4s and his ability to score, ranking second in par 4 efficiency over his past eight rounds, 35th in birdies or better gained and 23rd in eagles gained over his previous 12 rounds.
Harris English ($8,900) The last time we saw English was a couple of weeks ago at the RBC Heritage, where he gained just over four strokes Tee-to-Green, with most by way of his irons. Sometimes we forget about players who take a week off, but we shouldn’t with English who has amassed two top 20s and a top 10 in three of his past four events.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Harris English has withdrawn from the Rocket Mortgage Classic after testing positive for COVID-19.
Patrick Rodgers ($7,400)
Rodgers came out of the shutdown with a top 15 at the Charles Schwab Challenge but has missed his past two cuts. He’s been steady Tee-to-Green, gaining an average of 1.3 strokes over his previous five tournaments and prefers bentgrass greens even though he’s putt well in his past three starts. Rodgers has also been elite with his par 4 efficiency, ranking sixth over his previous 12 rounds. Harold Varner III ($7,600) ownership should be high this week, and Rodgers should be the leverage play in this range.
Lanto Griffin ($6,800)
Griffin has been churning out solid finishes this entire season and nearly added another top 20 last week. He gained strokes in all significant strokes gained categories at TPC River Highlands and has shot five straight rounds in the 60s. Griffin’s upside could be a solid play with lineup constructions looking to roster golfers in the $10,000 range.
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