Chez Reavie took home the top prize at The Travelers this past Sunday and now, The PGA Tour travels to Detroit, Michigan, for the first ever Rocket Mortgage Classic. This brand new tournament will take place at The Detroit Golf Club (par 72, 7,334 yards) and this will be the first time ever that this Donald Ross designed course has hosted a PGA event. Having no previous results and statistics puts us at a disadvantage, but from what I can gather, Detroit Golf Club should generate some low scores.
All four of the par fives appear to be reachable in two shots and four of the ten par fours are under 400 yards. The fairways are on the wider side and the rough doesn’t seem to be very penalizing, but some of the holes are tree lined. The greens are POA grass and from my eye, they seem to be a tad on the smaller side.
Overall, with no previous data to rely on like a normal week of golf, I think we need to focus on player’s current tee to green game and scoring, with an emphasis on the par fives, given this is a par 72. Also, I will be looking at POA putting splits and golfer’s track records on Donald Ross’ designs, if possible. But, as I said above, we are at a disadvantage with this being a new course on Tour and I recommended playing a lighter amount of your bankroll than usual, especially when we factor in that this is one of the weakest fields of the year. @Hunta512.
Dustin Johnson: (12,000)
DJ is easily the top player in the field this week and it isn’t even close. He is one of only four players priced above $10,000 and the other three are: Rickie Fowler, Gary Woodland and Hideki Matsuyama. Johnson is the clear favorite to win of this group (5.5/1 via Bovada, Matsuyama is second at 12/1) and as you could have guessed, is by far the #1 ranked player in my model when we compare all of these golfers last 24 rounds.
During that span, DJ ranks in the top three in SGT2G, SG APP, GIR, BS, SGT, BOB%, SG on P4s, and SG on P5s. His last two starts don’t look that great (T20 at The Canadian Open and T35 at The U.S. Open), but Johnson hasn’t missed a cut since last July and has nine top tens this season. He has dominated weaker fields like this in the past (wins at The 2018 Canadian Open and 2018 St. Jude Classic) and should rebound from his disappointing showing at Pebble Beach, with nothing worse than a top five in Detroit.
Hideki Mastuyama: (10,200)
When we need to focus on ball striking, which is absolutely the case this week, Matsuyama is always a strong target. (5th in SGT2G this season) He has made a whopping 22 cuts in a row and has finished no worse than T23 in his last four.
Furthermore, Mastuyama has been a birdie making machine (1st in BOB% in L24 rounds) and has actually gained strokes putting in four straight starts. He is always at his best on POA grass and I think we will find Mastuyama in contention come Sunday afternoon.
Ryan Moore: (9,500)
Moore has been playing well (eight for his last ten) and always seems to show up on Donald Ross’ tracks. When we look at each of these golfers last 24 rounds on Ross’ designs, he ranks 2nd in total strokes gained.
Just this past week at The Travelers, where he finished T15, Moore led the field in fairways found and was T4 in greens hit. His putting splits drastically favor POA grass and he ranks 7th in SG APP over his past 24 rounds. The price may feel high, but Moore is a safe bet for another top 20 this weekend.
Kevin Streelman: (8,700)
Streelman is arguably in the best form of this entire field. Since the beginning of April, he has made six straight cuts and posted three top tens. He just finished T15 at The Travelers and has gained 7.6 strokes per start during this cut streak.
His ball striking has been immaculate (2nd in SGT2G, 1st in SG APP, 1st in GIR, and 3rd in BS in L24 rounds) and Streelman has also been an above average scorer on par fives. (24th in SG on P4s in L24 rounds) His salary should be over $9,000 this week and while he may be chalky, I think we need to eat the chalk and confidently deploy Streelman in all formats.
Rory Sabbatini: (8,500)
Sabbatini is never a popular play (7.1% average ownership in GPPs over L6) and hopefully that is the case again this week, because not only is he in excellent form (11 made cuts in a row, with five top 20s), but he is a stud at Ross’ courses. The sample size isn’t large (14 rounds), but no player in this field has gained more strokes Ross’ designs than Sabbatini.
He knows how to work around these tracks and in his last five starts on Tour, he has gained an awesome 6.7 strokes per tournament. There really isn’t a low point in Sabbatini’s game right now (4th in SGT2G, 6th in BOB% and 4th in SG on P4s) and he is a worthwhile spend at $8,500.
Jason Dufner: (8,000)
Dufner’s game has dramatically changed for the better recently. After missing an unheard of eight cuts in a row, the veteran has only missed one in his last six events, with two top tens coming during that stretch. These are his first top tens of the season and Dufner just recorded a very respectable T35 at The U.S. Open in his last start.
Outside of putting (116th in SGP in L24 rounds), just about every facet of his game is on the upswing (8th in SGT2G, 13th in SG APP, 5th in GIR, 3rd in fairways gained, 9th in BS, 22nd in BOB%, 7th in SG on P4s, and 65th in SG on P5s in 24 rounds) and he has been very solid on Ross’ venues in the past. (16th in SGT in L24 rounds) If Dufner can manage to not putt himself out of this tournament, he should produce a top 30.
Vaughn Taylor: (7,600)
Taylor was one of my favorite low end buys at The Travelers and it really paid off, with 43 year old carding his best finish of the season. (T4) His price has now hit a season high, but I still think we should attack the savy vet.
Following his impressive week in Connecticut, where he gained 7.4 SGT2G, Taylor has now made nine of his last 12 cuts and finished inside the top 20 six times during that run. If he can continue to strike the ball like last week, Taylor should safely find himself inside the cut line and has a decent shot of another top 25.
Nick Watney: (7,600)
When Watney makes the cut, he tends to usually end the week with a solid finish. He is four for his last six and in those four made cuts he has gone T31, T8, T22, and T30, in that order.
His irons have been extremely solid and even if we include his MC at The Canadian Open three weeks ago, Watney is averaging 5.5 SGT2G in his past four starts. He can be a very tough player to predict at times, but I think Watney is the type of risk we need to embrace this week.
Corey Conners: (7,300)
Conners let his flat stick kill him at The Canadian Open (MC, -4 SGP), but I am willing to take a risk on him bouncing back after a few weeks of rest. (hasn’t played in three weeks) Prior to that MC, he had made six of his previous eight cuts, including his first ever PGA Tour win at The Texas Open.
His tee to green game is always strong (7th in SGT2G, 9th in SG APP, 2nd in GIR, and 2nd in BS in L24 rounds) and if he can even come close to producing a positive week on the greens, Conners should make the cut.
Max Homa: (7,300)
Even though he missed the cut at The Travelers, Homa still gained strokes tee to green and on approach. This is the 5th event in a row that he has done this and if he can control his wild driver this week, I think Homa gets back on track in Detroit.
He had made 9/10 cuts heading into The Travelers, with three top 20s and a win at The Wells Fargo in that stretch. His strong play on par fives (11th in SG on P5s in L24 rounds) is exactly what we need at Detroit Golf Club and I think Homa will at least be able to make the cut in this soft field.
Sepp Straka: (6,900)
Straka was horrendous on the greens at TPC River Highlands last week (MC, – 5.9 SGP), but this was about all he did wrong, gaining strokes T2G, OTT, ARG, and APP. In fact, he gained a robust 5.9 ST2G and this was his second very impressive ball striking performance in a row, with 6.5 SGT2G at The U.S. Open, where he finished T28 at Pebble Beach in his first ever major.
That made cut at The U.S. Open was his third consecutive at The PGA level before the blow up at The Travelers, and if he can avoid putting in circles, I think Straka could find some success at The Rocket Mortgage Classic.
Hank Lebioda: (6,900)
Very quietly, Lebioda has been consistently making cuts this season. Since The Sony Open back in January, he has made 10 of the 13 cuts and is actually eight for his last nine on Tour. No other player under $7,000 this week has been this dependable and Leboida’s stats have also been very solid. (22nd in SGT2G, 28th in SG APP, 13th in GIR, and 23rd in BS in L24 rounds)
He has flashed decent upside in his last few starts (T17 at The Wells Fargo and T14 at The Canadian Open) and I don’t think a top 30 is out of the question for the 25 year old.
*Please note that some of these rankings are from Fantasynational.com