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  • Writer's pictureNate (@WeKnowFantasy)

Out of the Rough: Rocket Mortgage Classic (2024)


A year ago, Rickie Fowler claimed victory at Detroit Country Club over Adam Hadwin and Collin Morikawa in a playoff in what was the best finish to a tournament in some time.


Now, the PGA Tour returns to the same grounds for the sixth playing of the Rocket Mortgage Classic.


This week starts a three-week run of Midwest based tournaments for the PGA TOUR.


Last year saw this event return to its original placement in the PGA Tour schedule, changing from late July to late June and once again will fall into that time slot.


This event was first played six years ago, taking over for the National, formerly the Quicken Loans National on the PGA TOUR schedule.


The Rocket Mortgage Classic became the first event staged in Michigan since the final edition of the Buick Open at Warwick Hills back in 2009. It is the first PGA TOUR event to ever be played in Detroit.


Detroit Golf Club was established in 1899 and has a long history, but is still very fresh to the PGA TOUR with it first being played in 2019.


The Field

After a run of two Signature Events in The Memorial and the Travelers Championship with the U.S. Open sandwiched in between, most of the PGA Tour’s best will remain idle this week.


In turn, there will not be a single golfer in this week’s field ranked within the top-20 of the Official World Golf Rankings.


Instead, the field is headlined by the likes of Tom Kim, Cameron Young, Min Woo Lee, Will Zalatoris and Akshay Bhatia.


As previously mentioned, Fowler comes in as the defending champion as he ended a four year winless run on the PGA Tour with a victory a season ago.


Nate Lashley won the inaugural playing on this event in 2019 and will also be back this week as he seeks his second Rocket Mortgage Classic title. Cam Davis is the only other defending champion in this week’s field as he won this event in 2021.


The Course

Detroit Country Club plays as a Par-72 at 7,370 yards and is best described as a bomb-and-gouge course that will feature some very low scores. In all, it’ll be a birdiefest this week.


There are two courses at the Detroit Country Club and although this week’s event will be held predominantly on the longer North course, the third hole for this week will be the South course’s first hole, which is a par-four.


Both courses are a Donald Ross design.


Although we’ve seen fairway finders have success and win here at Detroit Country Club, course and tournament history suggests that those who are long off the tee will have a leg up.


Around 50-percent of all drives have been over 300-yards here at Detroit Country Club which is well over the TOUR average of 298 yards.


Detroit Country Club as a whole lacks the bells-and-whistles of the PGA TOUR courses we are used to seeing.


The fairways are tree-lined but are rather wide, making it less of a positional course than other parkland courses we’re used to seeing.


There are very few hazards this week. There is also non-penal rough and features accessible back-to-front sloping greens.


The past installments of this event have boiled down to putting contests. This is true for most Ross designs such as East Lake and Sedgefield CC.

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This is also a course where poor putters simply don’t catch fire and find themselves in contention. There will be a premium on the TOUR’s best putters.


The greens are a combination of Bentgrass and Poa.


The four par-fives featured this week are the easiest four holes on the course and will need to be taken advantage of. The 635-yard fourth hole is the most difficult of the par-fives but still boasts a 30-percent birdie rate.


The 577-yard 17th is the easiest hole on the course and has a 47-percent birdie rate.


Two of the par-threes play over 200 yards and play rather difficult while the other two play around 160-yards and play much easier.


There are ten par fours on this week’s scorecard. Four play 350-400 yards and four are 450-500 yards. 


Greens in regulation percentage is also higher here, coming in at 72-percent. Missing greens isn’t the end-of-the-world however as scrambling is easier here with the lack of hazards and non-penal rough as well.


Winners have more than doubled the field in sand saves over the last four years however.


Around 40-percent of all approach shots come from 125-175 yards with another 21-percent coming from over 200 yards.


In all, hitting greens and creating as many scoring opportunities as possible will be key. Any golfer who does not capitalize on these opportunities will quickly fall off pace and will find themselves out of contention quickly.


The Weather

As of the time of writing this, only Saturday calls for a significant chance of precipitation. Saturday currently calls for a 90-percent chance of precipitation with thunderstorms. The rest of the week calls for at most, a ten-percent chance of precipitation. Temperature will begin at 76-degrees on Thursday before peaking at 83-degrees on Saturday and then falling to 74-degrees on Sunday. Winds will be at the highest with the chance of thunderstorms on Saturday at 15 miles-per-hour. Sunday calls for 13 miles-per-hour winds as Friday calls for 11 miles-per-hour winds and Thursday nine miles-per-hour winds. 


Key Stats

  • Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (SG: OTT)

  • Average Driving Distance

  • Strokes Gained: Putting on Bentgrass (SG: PUTT Bentgrass)

  • Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: APP)

  • Birdie or Better Percentage / Birdie or Better Percentage from less than 150 Yards

  • Proximity to the hole from 75-to-150 Yards

  • Good Drives Percentage

  • Par 5 Average Scoring

  • Greens in Regulation Percentage (GIR%)

  • Sand Saves Percentage


DFS Suggestions

$10,000+

My first play in this price range is Cameron Young ($10,700.) There are only a handful of golfers in this price range. Young is currently 21st on Tour in both SG: OTT and birdie or better percentage, 31st in average driving distance, 44th in birdie or better percentage from less than 150-yards, 59th in both SG: APP and GIR%, 76th in par five average scoring, 84th in both SG: PUTT Bentgrass and proximity to the hole from 75-150 yards and 132nd in sand saves percentage. His ownership will undoubtedly be higher as a bit of a PGA Tour fan favorite despite a victory under his belt but in a field like this, anyone in the top two price ranges will likely carry a larger ownership number. Young is fresh off a T9th at last week’s Travelers Championship which also featured a 59 on Friday. Beyond that, the recent form has not been great but he did place T9th at the Masters, solo second at the Valspar Championship, T4th at the Cognizant Classic and T8th at the WM Phoenix Open earlier this season. We know Young has the ability to go low, just as he did last week and that’s what it takes to compete here in Detroit. He also placed T2nd here in 2022. Also consider Tom Kim ($11,000.) Coming in as the highest priced golfer in this event and fresh off the back of losing to Scottie Scheffler in a playoff in Connecticut, Kim is playing some great golf. He is currently 23rd on Tour in birdie or better percentage, 40th in proximity to the hole from 75-150 yards, 50th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass, 56th in GIR%, 64th in SG: APP, 69th in par five average scoring, 73rd in SG: OTT, 75th in good drives percentage, 89th in sand saves percentage, 107th in average driving distance and 115th in birdie or better percentage from less than 150 yards. Kim’s knocks are typically the putter and average driving distance. However, he has worked to increase his ball speed off the tee to roughly 176 miles-per-hour. To put that into perspective, Scheffler is around 177 to 178 miles-per-hour ball speed. Kim is also a top 50 guy on Tour in terms of SG: PUTT Bentgrass. This is his ninth straight event on Tour so some fatigue can set in, but what’s the difference between eight straight events that saw him nearly take down World No. 1 last week than nine straight this week? Kim also placed seventh here in 2022. I’m also playing three units on him this week.


$9,000-$9,900

This is a price range I’m not in love with this week and therefore have just one suggestion. That one suggestion is Akshay Bhatia ($9,800.) In his last three events, Bhatia placed T5th at the Travelers Championship, T16th at the U.S. Open and T22nd at the Memorial. He also won the Valero Texas Open earlier this year. Bhatia is currently 23rd on Tour in SG: APP, 24th in par five average scoring, 31st in proximity to the hole from 75-150 yards, 36th in SG: OTT, 39th in birdie or better percentage, 46th in good drives percentage, 53rd in birdie or better percentage from less than 150 yards, 90th in average driving distance, 91st in GIR%, 99th in sand saves percentage and 134th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass. That putting figure is a bit misleading as he has worked to become competent on the greens here as of late. He finished last week fifth at the Travelers Championship in terms of SG: PUTT, gaining 1.138 strokes-per-round.


$8,000-$8,900

I’m not sure why I’m doing this but here we go again. My favorite play in this price range is Keith Mitchell ($8,500.) Mitchell is currently fourth on Tour in SG: OTT, ninth in all of SG: APP, birdie or better percentage, par five average scoring and GIR%, 14th in average driving distance, 30th in proximity to the hole from 75-150 yards, 44th in good drives percentage, 51st in sand saves percentage and 91st in SG: PUTT Bentgrass. He is actually my favorite per my stats based model this week. In 16 events he’s played this season, he has placed top 25 in exactly half of them. In his last outing he went T10th at the RBC Canadian Open. Dating back to the Valspar Championship, in eight events, he has four top 25’s, two top 15’s and a top ten. I’m also playing a unit on him at +3500. Also consider Maverick McNealy ($8,900.) McNealy fits this course to a tee. He’s long off the tee and can putt very well. He’s currently 18th on Tour in SG: OTT, 21st in both SG: PUTT Bentgrass and birdie or better percentage, 24th in par five average scoring, 46th in average driving distance, 62nd in birdie or better percentage from less than 150 yards, 75th in proximity to the hole from 75-150 yards, 92nd in GIR%, 96th in SG: APP, 107th in good drives percentage and 120th in sand saves percentage. He’s also had some mild success at this event in year’s past, placing T8th in 2020 and T21st in 2021. In his last three events he placed T7th at the RBC Canadian Open, T17th at the Charles Schwab Challenge and T23rd at the PGA Championship. He also placed T9th at THE PLAYERS Championship, T13th at the Mexico Open and T6th at the WM Phoenix Open on the season.


$7,000-$7,900

I’m rather high on Erik van Rooyen ($7,800) this week. He isn’t in the best of form coming into this week as he missed the cut in his last outing at the U.S. Open. Prior to that he did make five consecutive cuts, including a T4th at the Myrtle Beach Classic. He also placed T2nd at the Cognizant Classic and T8th at the Mexico Open earlier this season. Rooyen is currently 14th on Tour in par five average scoring, 18th in birdie or better percentage, 28th in proximity to the hole from 75-150 yards, 30th in SG: OTT, 31st in GIR%, 50th in SG: APP, 60th in average driving distance, 62nd in birdie or better percentage from less than 150 yards, 71st in good drives percentage, 75th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass and 129th in sand saves percentage. I’m also playing a unit on him at +7000. Also consider Kevin Yu ($7,100.) That’s right, Yu is back! Yu has made three consecutive cuts coming into this week, including a T4th at the Myrtle Beach Classic. He also placed T9th at the Cognizant Classic, T6th at the Farmers Insurance Open and T3rd at The American Express earlier this season. He is currently second on Tour in GIR%, fifth in SG: OTT, 11th in average driving distance, 16th in SG: APP, 19th in par five average scoring, 67th in birdie or better percentage, 77th in proximity to the hole from 75-150 yards and 83rd in good drives percentage. Of course, Yu is going to have some red flags. They come in the form of a 160th placement in SG: PUTT Bentgrass, 161st in birdie or better percentage from less than 150 yards and 165th in sand saves percentage.


$6,000-$6,900

My first play in this price range is Andrew Novak ($6,700.) We last saw Novak at the RBC Canadian Open where he finished T14th. Prior to that, he made the cut in ten-of-12 events including a T8th at the WM Phoenix Open, T8th at the Mexico Open and T9th at the Cognizant Classic. Novak is currently seventh on Tour in sand saves percentage, 16th in GIR%, 29th in SG: APP, 35th in proximity to the hole from 75-150 yards, 60th in SG: OTT, 66th in good drives percentage, 69th in par five average scoring, 75th in average driving distance, 96th in birdie or better percentage, 99th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass and 126th in birdie or better percentage from less than 150 yards. Also consider Doug Ghim ($6,900.) Ghim has had some mild success over the last three years here. He placed T33rd last year and T32nd in 2021. We last saw Ghim at the Charles Schwab Challenge where he made the cut. Over his last five events, he has made the cut in four of them. Earlier this season he placed T13th at the Farmers Insurance Open, T12th at the WM Phoenix Open, T8th at the Mexico Open, T16th at the Cognizant Classic and T16th at THE PLAYERS Championship. He is currently ninth on Tour in par five average scoring, 18th in good drives percentage, 19th in SG: APP, 23rd in GIR%, 33rd in SG: OTT, 58th in sand saves percentage, 62nd in proximity to the hole from 75-150 yards, 89th in birdie or better percentage from less than 150 yards, 101st in birdie or better percentage, 114th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass and 149th in average driving distance.


$5,900-

I’m all over Patton Kizzire ($5,800) this week. He is currently fourth on Tour in GIR%, sixth in both SG: APP and birdie or better percentage from less than 150 yards, 14th in proximity to the hole from 75-150 yards, 17th in good drives percentage, 18th in birdie or better percentage, 71st in sand saves percentage, 91st in average driving distance, 106th in SG: OTT, 111th in par five average scoring and 125th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass. The putting number is a bit concerning but he did gain 2.978 strokes putting at the Myrtle Beach Classic and 2.457 strokes at THE CJ CUP Byron Nelson. He did miss the cut in his last outing at the RBC Canadian Open but prior to that placed T10th at the Myrtle Beach Classic, T24th at THE CJ CUP Byron Nelson and T23rd at the Corales Puntacana Championship. I’m also playing a unit on him at +27500. Also consider Carson Young ($5,900.) Young is currently 21st on Tour in good drives percentage, 36th in par five average scoring, 46th in SG: OTT, 51st in birdie or better percentage from less than 150 yards, 52nd in proximity to the hole from 75-150 yards, 62nd in sand saves percentage, 65th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass, 67th in birdie or better percentage, 75th in GIR%, 77th in SG: APP and 130th in average driving distance. Young has made the cut in three-of-his-last-four outings, including a T14th in his last outing at the RBC Canadian Open. He also placed T8th at the Mexico Open and T17th at The American Express earlier this season.


Betting Card

  • Tom Kim (+1200) - 3u

  • Keith Mitchell (+3500) - 1u

  • Ryan Fox (+5500) - 1u

  • Erik van Rooyen (+7000) - 1u

  • Patton Kizzire (+27500) - 1u


Ryan Fox (+5500)

In my opinion, the key to success here in Detroit is to be long off the tee with a strong putter. That’s what Fox does. He’s currently 17th on Tour in average driving distance, 29th in proximity to the hole from 75-150 yards, 60th in birdie or better percentage from less than 150 yards, 72nd in SG: PUTT Bentgrass, 84th in SG: OTT, 97th in par five average scoring, 101st in birdie or better percentage, 104th in SG: APP, 130th in GIR%, 139th in sand saves percentage and 164th in good drives percentage. Fox has made the cut in five consecutive cuts coming into this week. In those five events he placed T7th at the RBC Canadian Open and T4th at the Myrtle Beach Classic. I’m playing a unit on him.

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