The PGA Tour season continues this week when it heads out to Detroit for the Rocket Mortgage Classic, a tournament which is growing in stature on the tour even if it clashes with the start of the better events on the European Tour.
Bryson DeChambeau certainly enjoys it after he won the title last year. The big bomber is in Detroit to defend his title against a mixed level field I think it is fair to say, not that the winner will mind that given the benefits that come with it.
2020 – Bryson DeChambeau
2019 – Nate Lashley
We are back at the Detroit Golf Club this week where the same composite course as last year is being used. The course being used is a par 72 which measures 7,340 yards which still isn’t overly long by modern standards. It is designed by Donald Ross and most of his courses rely on accuracy into tight greens and good putting techniques on greens which have plenty of slopes on them. There isn’t usually an emphasis off the tee although the way DeChambeau took it apart last year suggests length is an advantage.
All things being equal though, this is going to turn into a shootout so basically we are looking for players to give themselves a lot of chances on the greens and those who are putting well enough to convert them. The weather isn’t expected to be an issue this week and although there is talk of the rough being up a bit these greens are bigger than we would usually find to be the average on the PGA Tour so putting is going to be key.
In truth this isn’t a great field but when you consider the excellent events we have had recently and we have to come over the next couple of months or so perhaps that isn’t terribly surprising. The headliner in the field this week is the defending champion Bryson DeChambeau, closely followed by the former Masters champion Patrick Reed and the current Masters winner Hideki Matsuyama. There are one or two other bits of stardust sprinkled on the field too.
That includes Webb Simpson, whose record around another Donald Ross design used at the Wyndham Championship will give him hope of being competitive this week, Chilean star Joaquin Niemann, the young ace Will Zalatoris and rising star Matt Wolff. Others to notice are Jason Kokrak, Kevin Kisner, Jason Day, Sungjae Im and the man who looked to have another Travelers Championship in the palm of his hands six holes from home last week only to blow up in the form of Bubba Watson.
Bryson DeChambeau is the 15/2 favourite to win the tournament this week which actually when you compare it with Rory McIlroy over in the European Tour this week being 5/1 is actually a more than fair price on the face of it. I don’t need to tell anyone that I won’t be on him as I don’t get involved in defending champions but Bryson is as close to backing one as I’ve come in a while just purely on the lack of depth in the field. That said, I’m not convinced he’s firing on as many cylinders as he was coming here last year so there is a genuine reason to ignore him.
Patrick Reed is a 14/1 second favourite to win this event and although he has won plenty of shootouts in the past, I don’t get the impression that everything is firing in his game enough to win one right now. He could still win because there is just no depth to this field but he feels a little on the short side even allowing what he has to beat. Reed does tend to come to the party towards the end of a season but he needed to show me more in advance in order for me to back him.
The Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama and Webb Simpson are 18/1 shots this week. Each week that passes I’m becoming more and more convinced that Hideki’s success at Augusta was just the stars aligning for a week because his form either side of The Masters has been very patchy. If I was taking someone at the head of the market it would be Webb Simpson but even he is a little short given his recent form.
Joaquin Niemann is next in the betting around the 20/1 mark. I like Niemann and have backed him a few times this season but one top 10 since the Tour left Hawaii in January is not my idea of a 20/1 shot in all honesty, especially when he is having putting issues in a week where someone is probably going to have to go beyond 20 under to win. I like him but he needs to convince me with the putter before I get him onside again.
I backed Jason Kokrak at the US Open and he melted in the second round there but after a week off he should be able to go again on a track which should suit him in that really this week is all about smacking it as far as you can, walk up to the ball and do it again! The two things I want this week Kokrak has in abundance. That is length and form with the putter. He is regularly high up on the distance charts and his putting has really improved this year hence he has a couple of wins to his name. I have Kokrak a good deal shorter than this so he’s my first main bet.
Garrick Higgo did me a turn the week before the US Open and at a similar price I’m happy to go in again. He is another who can smoke it out there off the tee and then the touch he has on and around the greens make me think he can go well again here. I’ve had it on my mind for a while that Higgo could be something special so a couple of wins within a month isn’t out of the question, particularly as he has already done that on the European Tour this year. He has missed both his cuts since he won but one was a US Open at Torrey Pines and he actually carded -1 in the other tournament and missed the cut on the number so I don’t think those efforts should detract from his form. I’ll take the South African again here.
I’ll play a couple of outsiders this week with the first of those being to give Phil Mickelson a chance. He was on Twitter earlier offering up his thoughts on having a new hybrid which he says has brought about his ‘Kiawah level’ swing after struggling with it for the last couple of weeks. Until the last few holes he was unplayable there so it makes sense to have him onside, especially as we saw at Kiawah that he can still get it out there and we know he remains one of the best on and around the greens. This field isn’t great so Phil feels overpriced to me.
Another player who feels like a big price is Satoshi Kodaira. He comes into the week off the back of three top 20s in four starts with the one which wasn’t a top 20 being last week when he opened with a 63 but found the going a little tough on Sunday. What has caught my eye in those four efforts is his strokes gained putting numbers. They read 6.489, 4.220, 5.645 and 5.305. Not surprisingly he ranked no worse than 11th in each of those four events. There are no demons off the tee around here and while the Japanese ace isn’t the longest, he will be playing mostly from the fairway. If he can set up enough chances current form suggests he’ll take more than he misses which makes me think he’s worth support at a three figure price.
Back J.Kokrak to win Rocket Mortgage Classic (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 29.00 with William Hill (1/5 1-8)
Back P.Mickelson to win Rocket Mortgage Classic (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 71.00 with William Hill (1/5 1-8)
Back them here:
Back S.Kodaira to win Rocket Mortgage Classic (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 151.00 with Betfair (1/5 1-8)
Back him here:
Back G.Higgo to win Rocket Mortgage Classic (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 46.00 with Sky Bet (1/5 1-8)