This week marks another full-field event on the schedule in the Rocket Mortgage Classic, which is in its third year as an official PGA TOUR event. 150+ golfers will be teeing it off here and the event will feature two top-10 OWGR players in Patrick Reed and defending champion Bryson DeChambeau. Bryson won here as the favorite in 2020, but this event has also seen a longshot winner in 2019 with Nate Lashley taking home the title. He was going off at +20000 or greater in the odds that week. Joining Reed and Bryson will be 2021 Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama, along with Bubba Watson and last year’s runner-up here Matthew Wolff, who posted a T15 at the US Open two weeks ago to break out of a prolonged dry spell.
The cut this week will also feature its normal positioning (top 65 and ties make the weekend), and last year players needed to be at 5-under or better after two rounds just to play the weekend—making this one of the easiest scoring venues on the PGA TOUR. For DraftKings purposes, getting 6/6 players through the cut should again prove difficult given the size of the field.
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Detroit Golf Club (North Course)—Detroit, Michigan
Par 72, 7,330 yards; Greens: Bentgrass/Poa Annua
The Rocket Mortgage Classic replaced the old Quicken Loans event that was always played out East, and has found its new home at the North Course at Detroit GC.
The North Course at the Detroit Golf Club is an original Donald Ross design, and has history back as early as 1916. The venue has seen lots of renovations since that time. In order to prepare for this event several holes were altered, lengthened or even moved around to accommodate. Some highlights of the reconfigured venue include a long par 5 which is set to play at 625 yards for the week, and a closing stretch of holes that includes a solid risk-reward par 5 (the 14th) with water guarding the green, and a tougher finishing hole with a massive putting surface which will likely include a tough pin placement on Sunday. Ultimately though, even with the changes, this remains a very straightforward setup for players as the parkland setting (in the middle of Detroit) is very flat and offers clean lines to the hole on almost every hole if you hit the bigger fairways off the tee.
The venue played quite easy in its first season, as it produced the eighth-best scoring average on the PGA TOUR with the field shooting an average of 70.113 for the week. It played even easier in 2020 with it ranking 38th out of 41 in terms of toughness on the PGA TOUR and it yielded a 70.05 scoring average. Even with the long par 5 in play, the four par 5s ranked out as the easiest four holes on the course with the long par 3-11th (a Ross trademark) ranking as the toughest hole on the course. The fairways and greens ranked out as quite easy to hit compared to the average PGA TOUR stats so birdie opportunities and good iron play becomes very important. The four par 5s and easy to hit fairways may favor big hitters over the long haul, but it’s worth noting that Nate Lashley only ranked 44th in Driving Distance in 2019 during his dominating win. Ultimately, putting is the most important factor here as both Lashley and DeChambeau gained over +7.0 strokes putting in the week of their win and the entire top-10 here last season gained +1.4 strokes or more putting (individually) for the week.
For fantasy players looking at possible correlations between this venue and others on the PGA TOUR, results from other Donald Ross designed venues may also be something to note this week. Results from courses like Pinehurst No. 2, Plainview, East Lake and Sedgefield are all worthy for research. As for proximity, the 125-175 range of approach is very popular here given the setup, and especially for players who lack length off the tee, players can make up ground on the field here by being great from this distance.
2021 Weather Outlook: Despite some record heatwaves in certain parts of North America, the temperatures in Detroit will be pretty manageable this week with highs in the high-70s to low-80s. There is some precipitation expected early in the week here which likely doesn’t bode well for anyone expecting a little tougher scoring. Rain on Tuesday and Wednesday should make the greens very receptive this week and likely help the sharp iron players even more. Thursday morning does have a decent chance of rain, with Friday afternoon having some gusts expected over 10 mph. The Thursday p.m./Friday a.m. wave could see a slight wave advantage—if the current forecast holds.
Last 5 winners
2020—Bryson DeChambeau at 23-under (over Matthew Wolff -20)
**other notables include Joaquin Niemann and Patrick Reed T5
2019—Nate Lashley 25-under-par (over Doc Redman -19)
**other notables include Kevin Kisner 3rd, Maverick McNealy and Webb Simpson T8
Winners Stats and Course Overview
2020 Winner: Bryson DeChambeau (23-under par)
2020 lead-in form (T6-T8-T3-T4-2nd)
- Bryson was in fine form when he came into this event last year, having racked up five top-10s in a row before breaking through for his win. It should be noted though that last year’s runner-up (Matt Wolff) and 2019 Nate Lashley didn’t carry much form into this event before breaking through here for a big week. Recent form likely isn’t as big an indicator this week given the nature of the setup.
- Bryson’s win was also interesting as he actually lost strokes on approach for the week here, and we rarely, if ever, see the event winner lose strokes on approach. Obviously Bryson made up the difference on the greens and off the tee but if you’re targeting shorter hitters, especially, make sure they are firing with the approaches, as Nate Lashley gained over +5.0 strokes on approach here in 2019.
- From a venue perspective, Detroit Golf Club is driver heavy and that will help the big hitters, but only if their scoring clubs are also working. Both Wolff and Bryson figured out these greens early last year, so looking at bombers with strong Poa putting splits could be useful.
Finding Values (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value comparative to their DraftKings Sportsbook odds of winning this week.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
HORSES FOR COURSES
1. Doc Redman ($7,900; best finishes: T21-2nd): Redman has gained over +3.5 strokes putting at this event each of the past two seasons. He’s also had success at other Donald Ross venues and clearly likes the straightforward design.
2. Hideki Matsuyama ($10,400; best finishes: T21-T14): Hideki is one of the best mid to short iron players on the PGA TOUR and this venue allows for a lot of approaches from that range. He’s had issues figuring out the greens but has two solid finishes here already.
3. Kevin Kisner ($8,500; best finishes: 3rd-T46): Kisner was in the hunt for the win last season at this venue and gained over +4.0 strokes on approach and putting. He’s coming off a strong week at the Travelers and could build on that momentum here.
4. Ryan Armour ($7,500; T4-T46): Armour has played well at this venue the past two seasons. He’s one of the better putters on the PGA TOUR and has gained over +1.4 strokes putting on the DGC greens each of the past two seasons.
5. Rickie Fowler ($8,700; T12-T46): Fowler has a solid record on Donald Ross courses and has performed admirably at this event. He gained over +4.0 strokes ball striking here last season, but is coming off a bad missed cut from last week.
- Patrick Reed ($10,900; T25-T19): Reed grinded to a T25 finish last week, his fifth top-25 finish over his last six starts. Overall, he has five top-10s and a win on the season, while ranking 6th and 4th in SG: ATG and Putting stats. His consistency should be valued here.
Charley Hoffman ($8,800; T30-T57): Hoffman comes in having made 13 cuts in a row. Consistency should be valued in these weaker fields and Hoffman also ranks first in SG: approach stats over the last 50 rounds. He’s been a DFS machine of late and shows no sign of slowing down.
- Bryson DeChambeau ($11,400; T19-T26): Bryson hasn’t popped for any huge finishes of late but he’s still been a quietly solid DFS play. The big hitter ranks first in DKFP gained over the last 50 rounds and has made 10 cuts in a row.
- Hank Lebioda ($7,200; T5-T31): Lebioda recorded his best finish of the season last week when he grabbed a T5 at the Travelers, which was his fifth made cut in a row. He’s heating up on the greens where he’s gained over +2.5 strokes putting in four of his last five starts.
- Chez Reavie ($7,600; T25-T40): Reavie has bounced back nicely after a poor mid-season stretch. The veteran has made three cuts in a row and gained +3.4 strokes or more on approach in his last three starts.
DRAFTKINGS DFS STRATEGY
Cash Games: Start with Bryson and look for value
Bryson DeChambeau ($11,400) enters this week first in DraftKings points produced over the last 50 rounds and has made 10 straight cuts. Given he’s a +750 betting favorite at the moment and is still well under $12K in price, starting big with him is preferred option this week. The good news about spending up with Bryson is that there’s plenty of value options to use for cash/core lineups. Both Charley Hoffman ($8,800-see below) and Doc Redman ($7,900) have been in good form of late and offer affordable salaries. Chez Reavie ($7,600) and Hank Lebioda ($7,200) are also affordable, and they have been striking it well of late and are both featured in the recent form section. A couple other names to consider for this format include the likes of Kyle Stanley ($7,600) and Ryan Armour ($7,500).
Tournaments: Bubba an interesting momentum target
Bubba Watson ($9,200) has now flashed on leaderboards two weeks in a row, with him even managing to go off in the final group at the Travelers last Sunday. His tee to green game is coming into form and the venue has catered to big hitters who can find a rhythm on the greens early. Keegan Bradley ($9,000) is another big hitter who could find some success here if his putter cooperates. He’ll be low owned after two missed cuts but has won on a Ross course before (2018 BMW). Other potential GPP targets here include the likes of Chris Kirk ($7,400-see below), Beau Hossler ($7,000) and Henrik Norlander ($6,800).
MY PICK: Charley Hoffman ($8,800)
Editor’s Note: Charley Hoffman has withdrawn from the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
Hoffman certainly seems like a player on the verge of a breakthrough after making his 13th straight cut last week at the Travelers. The veteran comes into this event ranked first in SG: Approach stats over the last 50 rounds and also rates out among the best from a scoring perspective too, as he’s posted the second best BoB average over the last 50 rounds of anyone in this field. He’s also been destroying the short par 4s, ranking third in par 4 scoring in this field and first in par 4 350-400 yard scoring. Detroit Golf Club features four par 4s under 400 yards, so this setup could fit right into the Hoff’s wheelhouse. If we’re being honest, most of Hoffman’s career wins have come at weaker field events, where the scoring is typically low. Three of his four career PGA TOUR wins have seen him reach 17-under or better, so an easy par 72 setup should fit right into his wheelhouse here in terms of course fit. From a DFS perspective, this is also a player who ranks 3rd in DraftKings points gained over the last 50 rounds, yet is available at well under $9K in price. From a value perspective alone he makes for a great pick, but given the setup here, I also think he’s worth looking at in the outright odds on DraftKings Sportsbook . Expect his persistence to be rewarded soon and don’t shy away from using him here in DFS at what is a very generous pricing point given the field.
MY SLEEPER: Chris Kirk ($7,400)
Kirk comes in a little under the radar after he missed the cut last week at the Travelers. The MC shouldn’t bother us too much though as Kirk’s main flaw was on the greens where he lost -2.0 strokes to the field. It’s been a very solid season for the veteran, whose results have tailed off a bit of late after grabbing four top-10s in his first nine starts of 2021. Still, from a long-term perspective, this is a player who ranks inside the top-50 in all of the major strokes gained categories and is also top-20 in Birdies and Birdies or Better gained over the last 50 rounds.
From a fit perspective, Detroit Golf Club looks like it should be a good opportunity to get Kirk firing again too as he’s 10th in proximity from 125-150 yards and should have plenty of short approaches to work with here given the plethora of short 4s. He’s had some decent results at other Donald Ross courses, with his best ever US Open result coming in 2014 at Pinehurst No. 2. Given the field and setup here, I like targeting him for a bounce-back this week at what should be lower ownership in the big DraftKings GPPs.
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