Best bets for the PGA Rocket Mortgage Classic

June 27, 2023 06:30 PM

Best bets for the Rocket Mortgage Classic

Keegan Bradley, born in Woodstock, Vt., and a current summer resident of Newburyport, Mass., has always had a special place in his heart for the Travelers Championship, which is the lone regular PGA Tour stop in New England. He finished runner-up here in 2019 but went one better on Sunday to win in Hartford at a pre-tournament price of 80-1.

The New Englander led the Travelers field for Strokes Gained: Approach and Strokes Gained: Putting. Putting has long been a weakness in Bradley’s game as he ranked 183rd, 149th, 174th, 178th, 185th and 186th over six seasons before rising to 88th last season and now sits 23rd. Bradley set the Travelers Championship scoring record with a 257 (23 under par) and won the event by three strokes over Zac Blair and Brian Harman. Scottie Scheffler, Patrick Cantlay and Chez Reavie shared T-4, finishing four shots back. Rory McIlroy and Denny McCarthy finished T-7 at 18-under par. Rounding out the top 10 to share T-9 were Justin Thomas, Alex Smalley, Corey Conners and Min Woo Lee.

Bradley (28-1) is part of this week's field in Detroit for the Rocket Mortgage Classic. This week is not a "designated event," so the field depth is down by that standard, but 14 of the OWGR Top 50 are entered here.

Tony Finau (12-1) is the defending champion and tournament favorite. However, this event looks wide open as we do not have a single-digit price on the board for the first time in several weeks.

Rickie Fowler (14-1) shot 60 on Saturday at TPC River Highlands in Saturday's third round of the Travelers and finished T-13. Fowler has also been an endorser and goodwill ambassador for the event's title sponsor Rocket Mortgage. However, he has never finished better than 12th in the event.

Thomas (16-1), who makes his Detroit debut, followed up a Friday round of 64 with a Saturday round of 62 at the Travelers last weekend. There have been rumors of a shoulder injury and they persisted with him missing the cut so badly at the U.S. Open two weeks ago. This event will give us a clearer view of Thomas' health and game.

At 18-1 are Hideki Matsuyama, T-13 last week, along with Max Homa and Collin Morikawa (also making his Detroit debut), who both missed the cut last week.

South Korean duo Tom Kim (20-1) and Sungjae Im (22-1) both have top-10 finishes here (Kim seventh last year, Im eighth in 2021).

Cam Davis (33-1) and Nate Lashley (100-1) are both past champions of the event.

The Event

The Rocket Mortgage Classic is now in its fifth year in Detroit as a PGA Tour event. Rocket Mortgage is the online brand for Quicken Loans, which is the leading mortgage lender in the United States. Quicken Loans was the title sponsor for the National event in the DMV (D.C./Maryland/Virginia) area from 2014-2018 before leading the PGA Tour to move the event to Detroit, where it is headquartered. The company is committed to sponsor the event through 2027.

The Course

The Detroit Golf Club serves as the venue for the Rocket Mortgage Classic. The club's North Course is located 15 minutes north of downtown Detroit near the University of Detroit Mercy's campus. The track was designed in 1916 by Donald Ross and is a classical, tree-lined, flat parklands layout that plays as a par-72 of 7,370 yards. Detroit GC is the flattest course on the PGA Tour, so with little undulation, it plays a bit shorter than the listed average. The average score per round last year was -1.72 under par, which played as the eighth easiest on tour.

There is only one hole with water (No. 14), but the course's 87 bunkers provide the main defense. Detroit has gotten some recent rain, so the track should play very soft.

The front nine is somewhat more challenging than the back nine. The fourth hole, one of two par-5s on the front nine and the course’s longest, extends to 635 yards. On the back nine, holes 14-16 combine to form what organizers have called the “Area 313” challenge. The 14th hole is a 555-yard risk-reward (water) par-5. The 15th hole is a par-3 that typically plays longer than its 160 yards while the 446-yard par-4 16th hole has one of the most demanding greens on the course and rates as the sixth-toughest hole overall.

The smaller (5,150 square feet, 12th smallest on tour) greens are evenly split Poa Annua (50%) vs. Bentgrass (50%). These are also vintage and trademark Donald Ross greens featuring a back-to-front pitch, surrounded by tightly mown run-offs into collection areas. The greens will run an average speed of 12 on the stimpmeter, but the downhill putts are difficult to attack, so approach shots below the hole are ideal. Even with some of the typical Ross trademarks on the greens, they are still receptive.

The fairways, which are relatively wide (34.6 feet on average) are Bentgrass/Poa Annua and the four-inch rough is a Bluegrass mix. Most of the holes are fairly straight with only two angled doglegs.

The traditional par-72 is broken up into four par-5s, which are a bit longer than average (No. 4 635 yards, No. 7 552, No. 14 555, No. 17 577), four par-3s and 10 par-4s. Three of the par-5s should be reachable in two shots for the bigger hitters and are relatively easy. The easier holes look to be the par-4s. Five of the 10 par-4s are 450 yards or less and three of them are shorter than 400 yards.


Essentially the plan of attack at Detroit GC is to rip it off the tee, hit good wedges and then it turns into a putting contest.

Other Donald Ross designs that are or have been part of the PGA Tour schedule include:

  • Pinehurst Number 2: 2014 U.S. Open
  • East Course at Oak Hill: 2013 PGA Championship
  • Sedgefield CC: Wyndham Championship
  • Plainfield: 2011 and 2015 Barclays
  • Aronimink GC: 2010 and 2011 AT&T National + 2018 BMW Championship
  • East Lake GC: Tour Championship

However, the more comparable courses from a distance and scoring standpoint include TPC Twin Cities (3M Open), Sedgefield (Wyndham Championship), Silverado (Fortinet Championship), TPC Deere Run (John Deere Classic) and Oakdale (2023 RBC Canadian Open).

Rocket Mortgage Classic Recent History

2022: Tony Finau (-26/262); 14-1

2021: Cam Davis (-18/270); 150-1*

2020: Bryson DeChambeau (-23/265); 7-1

2019: Nate Lashley (-25/263); 250-1

​Playoff win over Troy Merritt and Joaquin Niemann - *

Statistical Analysis

Distance is not a prerequisite for victory here, but it is a small advantage with straight holes and relatively wide fairways (15th widest on tour).

Driving Distance Gained (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Brandon Matthews 23.8
  2. Nicolai Hojgaard 18.6
  3. Matti Schmid 17.5
  4. Byeong Hun An 16.8
  5. Vincent Norrman 16
  6. Ludvig Aberg 15.9 (24 rounds)
  7. Joseph Bramlett 15.2
  8. Trevor Cone 14.6
  9. Brett Grant 13.7
  10. Cameron Champ 13.5
  11. Kyle Westmoreland 13.5
  12. Will Gordon 12.4
  13. Trey Mullinax 11.7
  14. Luke List 11.6
  15. Jimmy Walker 11.3
  16. Samuel Stevens 11.3
  17. Garrick Higgo 10.6
  18. Kevin Yu 10.1

Note: Average Yards Gained Per Drive Relative to Rest of the Field

You can bomb and gouge this course given it’s set up, or you can play it from further back if you’re accurate enough with your longer irons. Good Drives Gained still matter here as accurate hitters have both won and contended here along with bombers.

Good Drives Gained (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Collin Morikawa 35.7
  2. Matthew NeSmith 31.8
  3. Lucas Glover 30.9
  4. Aaron Rai 30.8
  5. Austin Eckroat 30.4
  6. Kevin Yu 29.8
  7. Hideki Matsuyama 28.5
  8. Ryan Armour 27.5
  9. Tom Kim 27.3
  10. Chez Reavie 26.5
  11. Ben Martin 26.4
  12. Lee Hodges 24.2
  13. Harris English 24
  14. Brian Harman 23.3
  15. Tyler Duncan 23.1
  16. Sepp Straka 21.5
  17. Christiaan Bezuidenhout 20.8
  18. James Hahn 20.1

Last year, 37.9% of strokes gained at Detroit Golf Club came on approach, which is well above the tour average of 34.8%.

Strokes Gained Approach (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Collin Morikawa 36.6
  2. Hideki Matsuyama 29.3
  3. Tony Finau 28.9
  4. Mark Hubbard 27.8
  5. Christiaan Bezuidenhout 25.9
  6. Aaron Rai 25.7
  7. Sepp Straka 24.6
  8. Rickie Fowler 24.3
  9. Nate Lashley 23.6
  10. Chez Reavie 23.3
  11. Ryan Palmer 22.9
  12. Max Homa 20.8
  13. Tom Kim 20.3
  14. Alex Smalley 18.7
  15. Scott Piercy 18

Over 46% of approach shots come from under 150 yards, which is one of the highest wedge and short-iron rates on tour.

Proximity Gained 100-125 Yards (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Collin Morikawa 11.2
  2. Byeong Hun An 9.3
  3. Chris Kirk 8.1
  4. Harry Higgs 7.2
  5. Greyson Sigg 7.1
  6. Jimmy Walker 7.1
  7. Justin Thomas 6.7
  8. Carl Yuan 6.7
  9. Charley Hoffman 6.6
  10. Davis Riley 6.5
  11. Hideki Matsuyama 6.2
  12. Patton Kizzire 6
  13. Lucas Glover 5.9
  14. Nick Watney 5.8
  15. Harry Hall 5.8
  16. Rickie Fowler 5.5
  17. Zach Johnson 5.5

Note: Average Feet Gained Per Shot Toward the Hole from the Yardage Distance

Proximity Gained 125-150 Yards (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Chris Kirk 12.1
  2. Keegan Bradley 11.7
  3. Tom Kim 10.4
  4. Max Homa 10
  5. Satoshi Kodaira 9.6
  6. Charley Hoffman 8.8
  7. Nicolai Hojgaard 7.6 (24 rounds)
  8. Webb Simpson 7.1
  9. Cam Davis 6.9
  10. Aaron Rai 6.7
  11. Collin Morikawa 6.4
  12. Akshay Bhatia 6.3
  13. Hank Lebioda 5.9
  14. Aaron Baddeley 5.9
  15. Hideki Matsuyama 5.7
  16. Rickie Fowler 5.3
  17. Tom Hoge 5

Note: Average Feet Gained Per Shot Towards the Hole from the Yardage Distance

Detroit Golf Club is a course on which you have to sink putts and make lots of birdies to climb the leaderboard. Birdie or Better Gained measures the Opportunities Gained plus sinking the birdie putts.

Birdie or Better Gained (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Rickie Fowler 31.5
  2. Keegan Bradley 27.1
  3. Max Homa 20
  4. Sungjae Im 19.8
  5. Akshay Bhatia 19.2
  6. Tony Finau 19.1
  7. Scott Piercy 18.7
  8. Brandon Wu 18.5
  9. Collin Morikawa 17.2
  10. Mark Hubbard 16.9
  11. Dylan Wu 16
  12. Hideki Matsuyama 15.3
  13. Justin Thomas 14.8
  14. Austin Eckroat 14.6
  15. Carson Young 14.1

Opportunities Gained (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Hideki Matsuyama 32.6
  2. Ben Martin 30.5
  3. Justin Thomas 28.4
  4. Chez Reavie 28.2
  5. Collin Morikawa 27.5
  6. Ryan Palmer 22.9
  7. Chris Kirk 21.8
  8. Keegan Bradley 21.5
  9. Nate Lashley 21.4
  10. Luke List 20.6
  11. Tom Hoge 19.7
  12. Charley Hoffman 19.7
  13. Sungjae Im 18.9
  14. Marty Dou 18.4
  15. Matti Schmid 17
  16. Scott Piercy 16.5
  17. Christiaan Bezuidenhout 16.4
  18. Davis Riley 16
  19. Satoshi Kodaira 16
  20. Ryan Gerard 16

While there is a blend of Poa Annua in these greens, they do not putt like the bumpy West Coast Poa. They putt like smoother Bentgrass greens.

Strokes Gained Putting Bentgrass (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Justin Lower 37.1
  2. Christiaan Bezuidenhout 30.4
  3. Justin Suh 27.1
  4. Max Homa 25.9
  5. Austin Cook 25.2
  6. Keegan Bradley 24.5
  7. Harris English 24.3
  8. Brendon Todd 24.1
  9. Beau Hossler 21.8
  10. Adam Svensson 19.4
  11. Harry Higgs 19.2
  12. Alex Noren 18.3
  13. C.T. Pan 14.7
  14. Luke Donald 13.1
  15. Tony Finau 12.1
  16. Callum Tarren 11.9
  17. Chris Kirk 11.7
  18. David Lingmerth 11.6
  19. Peter Malnati 10.6
  20. Sungjae Im 10.3

All four of the par-5s feature over a 30% birdie rate, and at least three of the four are reachable in two for even the shortest players in this field.

Strokes Gained Par-5s (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Rickie Fowler 27.1
  2. Richy Werenski 21.2
  3. Nate Lashley 17.6
  4. Ryan Palmer 16.8
  5. Tony Finau 16.7
  6. Dylan Wu 16.7
  7. Ludvig Aberg 14.6 (24 rounds)
  8. Collin Morikawa 14.5
  9. Sungjae Im 14.1
  10. Webb Simpson 13
  11. Keegan Bradley 11.9
  12. Kevin Yu 11.7
  13. Hideki Matsuyama 11.7
  14. Aaron Rai 11.7
  15. Adam Long 11.2
  16. Davis Thompson 11

Players are going to need to get to at least 20 under par to have a chance at victory here. Detroit Golf Club is an easy course for top-end PGA Tour players.

Strokes Gained Total Easy Scoring Conditions (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Tony Finau 59.8
  2. Tom Kim 58
  3. Justin Thomas 51.7
  4. Hideki Matsuyama 47.3
  5. Tom Hoge 47.1
  6. Alex Smalley 45.3
  7. Brian Harman 44.6
  8. Thomas Detry 41.8
  9. J.J Spaun 38.8
  10. Taylor Moore 36.5
  11. Tyler Duncan 32.8
  12. Mark Hubbard 30.6
  13. Sungjae Im 29.4
  14. Christiaan Bezuidenhout 28.9
  15. Greyson Sigg 27.9


Ludvig Aberg (55-1, BetRivers)

Aberg, the former World No. 1 Amateur, is only making his third start as a PGA Tour professional and has finished top 25 in both starts.

The long-bombing Swede played his college golf at Texas Tech and earned his tour card by finishing first in the PGA Tour University standings.

Byeong Hun An (70-1, PointsBet)

In four of his last seven starts, An has ranked inside the top 10 for SG Tee-to-Green and has finished 25th or better in five of his last eight events.

Although not the best putter, Benny An can use his stellar game off the tee to contend here.

Austin Eckroat (70-1, BetRivers)

Eckroat followed up his top-10 at the U.S. Open, where he shot 65 in the final round, with a top-25 last weekend in Hartford.

He has five consecutive finishes of 30th or better dating to early May when he finished runner-up to Jason Day in the AT&T Byron Nelson.

Christiaan Bezuidenhout (90-1, PointsBet)

If this event turns into its usual putting contest, then Bezuidenhout is someone you want to consider this week as he is typically near the top of the putting rankings.

However, it is his approach game (fifth over the last 36 rounds), that should make him a dark-horse contender here.

Adam Schenk (100-1, BetMGM)

After a runner-up at Colonial (losing in a playoff to our 100-1 on Emiliano Grillo), Schenk responded with a seventh at Memorial.

That runner-up was Schenk's second on the season as he finished 2nd at the Valspar in March and should have won. He is a player I targeted to get that elusive first victory this summer.

Cameron Champ (150-1, Circa Sports)

Champ has only made six cuts in 20 starts this season, but events like these are when he tends to show up and show out like when he won the 2021 3M Open.

The Rocket Mortgage is an event where Champ, who ranks eighth on tour for driving distance, can use his driver and bomb away without much penalty.

Matchups (37-24-6; 3-2 last week)

Gordon Sargent -125 over Taylor Pendrith (South Point)

Cameron Champ +115 over Garrick Higgo (BetMGM)

Nick Hardy -115 over Nate Lashley (BetMGM)

Rickie Fowler -125 over Justin Thomas (BetMGM)

Adam Schenk -130 over Mark Hubbard (BetMGM)

Rocket Mortgage Classic placement market bets, along with any potential wagers for LIV Valderrama and the U.S. Senior Open will be available at

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