PGA Tour best bets: Rocket Mortgage Classic

July 26, 2022 08:30 PM
USATSI_18020493

Tony Finau became just the third player in the 2021-2022 PGA Tour season to win an event as the pre-tournament favorite (14-1) at last week’s 3M Open in the Twin Cities. Sam Burns (16-1) at the Sanderson Farms Championship and Jon Rahm (9-2) at the Mexico Open were the others. Finau began the final round five strokes behind leader Scott Piercy, but Piercy’s collapse and Finau’s good play turned the tables. Piercy was -145 to win the event and Finau + 450 entering Sunday. With the lead still five after Piercy hit the eighth green in regulation and Finau missed the ninth green, Piercy was -700 and Finau went as high as + 700. Piercy would end up carding bogeys on Nos. 8, 9, 11 and 13 before a triple bogey on 14 effectively ended his chances. 

This week, Finau is back in the field as the second choice on the board (14-1 market average) at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit. Patrick Cantlay (10-1) makes his debut in Detroit and is back in the fold from a top-10 finish at the British Open two weeks ago. Will Zalatoris (16-1) has three runners-up this season, only topped by former Wake Forest teammate Cameron Young (20-1), who has four, including two weeks ago at St. Andrews. One of Young's second-place finishes was at the Wells Fargo Championship in May to Max Homa (25-1). 

Australian Cam Davis (33-1) is the defending champion here, having won in a playoff over Troy Merritt (66-1) and Joaquin Niemann. Davis finished sixth at the Barracuda and 16th at the 3M Open over the last two weeks. Kevin Kisner (35-1) finished eighth here last year and third in 2020. Adam Scott is in Detroit for the first time and is priced at 40-1 along with Davis Riley, Keegan Bradley, Adam Hadwin (fourth here in 2020), Cameron Tringale (fifth here in 2019), Maverick McNealy (eighth here in 2020) and Webb Simpson (also eighth in 2020). 

The Event

The Rocket Mortgage Classic is in its fourth year in Detroit as a PGA Tour event. 

Last week's field at the 3M Open only had three of the OWGR Top 25 players. This week's event has five of the Top 20, including the fourth-ranked Cantlay. 

This tournament is one of the last two events (Wyndham Championship next week) for players to assure themselves of a spot in the Top 125 of the FedEx Cup standings.

The Course

Detroit Golf Club is located 15 minutes north of downtown Detroit. The North Course 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. Only one hole has water (No. 14), with the course's 87 bunkers providing the main defense. 

The front nine is a little more challenging than the back. 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 form what organizers call the “Area 313 Challenge.” No. 14 is a 555-yard, risk-reward Par 5 with water. No. 15 is a Par 3 that typically plays longer than its 160 yards. The 446-yard Par 4 16th has one of the most demanding greens on the course and rates as the sixth-toughest hole.

The average-sized (5,150 square feet) greens are more weighted toward Poa Annua (80%) than Bentgrass (20%). They are trademark Ross greens featuring a back-to-front pitch, surrounded by tightly mown runoffs into collection areas. The greens will run at an average speed of 12 on the stimpmeter, but the downhill putts are difficult to attack so approach shots below the hole are ideal.

The Bentgrass fairways are relatively wide (36 yards on average). The 4-inch rough is a Bluegrass mix. 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 yards; No. 14, 555 yards; No. 17, 577 yards), four Par 3s and 10 Par 4s. Three of the Par 5s should be reachable in two but aren't necessarily easy birdies. The easier holes look to be the Par 4s, with five of them measuring 450 yards or less and three of them shorter than 400 yards.

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

— Pinehurst No. 2, 2014 U.S. Open

— Oak Hill (East Course), 2013 PGA Championship

— Sedgefield, Wyndham Championship

— Plainfield, 2011 and 2015 Barclays

— Aronimink, 2010 and 2011 AT&T National and 2018 BMW Championship

— East Lake, Tour Championship

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

Recent Winners

2021: Cam Davis (-18/270); 125-1*

2020: Bryson DeChambeau (-23/265); 6-1 

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

​Playoff win over Troy Merritt and Joaquin Niemann*

Statistical Analysis​

Strokes Gained: Approach (Last 24 Rounds)

While DeChambeau won this event by leading the field in Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee and Strokes Gained: Putting, the other two winners were ninth and sixth in their winning weeks for Strokes Gained: Approach. 

1. Scott Stallings 24.3

2. Mark Hubbard 22.8

3. Davis Riley 21.8

4. Brendan Steele 21.6

5. Lee Hodges 21.5

6. Russell Henley 20.8

7. Max Homa 18.6

8. Will Zalatoris 18.2

9. Luke List 17.3

10. Tony Finau 16.1

11. Cam Davis 15.3

12. Adam Schenk 15.3

13. Chris Gotterup 14.4

14. Stephan Jaeger 13.7

15. Vaughn Taylor 12.5

16. Adam Scott 12.3

17. J.J Spaun 12.1

Strokes Gained: Ball Striking (Last 24 Rounds)

Strokes Gained: Ball Striking combines Strokes Gained: Approach with Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee. 

1. Brendan Steele 42.8

2. Will Zalatoris 37.7

3. Tony Finau 37.2

4. Luke List 35.1

5. Davis Riley 34.7

6. Max Homa 30.6

7. Cameron Young 28

8. Scott Stallings 25.5

9. Taylor Pendrith 23.9

10. Cam Davis 23.8

11. Lee Hodges 20.9

12. Stewart Cink 20.3

13. Mark Hubbard 19.6

14. Adam Schenk 19.3

15. Sahith Theegala 19.3

16. Cameron Champ 18.6

17. Chris Kirk 18.1

Good Drives Gained (Last 24 Rounds)

Good Drives are drives where the player either hits the fairway off the tee or misses the fairway but still hits the green or fringe in regulation. While distance is certainly not a negative here, hitting fairways is just as important. Brian Stuard, one of the shorter but more accurate hitters on the PGA Tour, once commented, “I think driving it straight here is very important because, with every fairway pretty much tree-lined, you would rather be 150 (yards) in the fairway rather than 100 in the trees.”

1. Ryan Armour 26.4

2. Brendan Steele 24.5

3. Doug Ghim 20.5

4. Greyson Sigg 20.1

5. Tony Finau 19.5

6. Keegan Bradley 19.2

7. Lee Hodges 19

8. Cameron Champ 18.9

9. Chris Kirk 18.5

10. Joohyung Kim 17.5

11. Adam Schenk 17.2

12. Luke List 16.9

13. J.J. Spaun 16.3

14. Satoshi Kodaira 16.3

15. Kevin Streelman 16.1

Opportunities Gained (Last 24 Rounds)

Opportunities Gained include birdie opportunities inside 15 feet from the green or fringe plus greens/fringes under regulation. This is a birdie-fest type of event and Opportunities Gained provides context as to which players have been setting themselves up for birdies and eagles.

1. Cameron Young 25.9

2. Will Zalatoris 24.7

3. Kevin Streelman 23.9

4. Cam Davis 23.1

5. Davis Riley 20.6

6. Mark Hubbard 19.8

7. Brendan Steele 19.7

8. Trey Mullinax 19.3

9. Matt Wallace 19

10. Adam Scott 18.3

11. Satoshi Kodaira 17.6

12. Scott Stallings 16.6

13. Stewart Cink 16.6

14. Chris Gotterup 15.9

15. Alex Smalley 14.9

16. Luke List 14.9

17. Russell Henley 14.6

18. Austin Cook 14.2

Birdie Or Better Gained (Last 24 Rounds)

After gaining those opportunities, it matters who can capitalize. 

1. Cameron Young 25.4

2. Tony Finau 23.3

3. Will Zalatoris 23.2

4. Adam Svensson 21.9

5. Patrick Cantlay 21.5

6. Cam Davis 17.5

7. Trey Mullinax 15

8. Nick Hardy 15

9. Kevin Chappell 14.3

10. Davis Riley 13.5

11. David Skinns 13.3

12. Scott Piercy 13

13. Max Homa 13

14. Seung Yul-Noh 12.8

15. Vincent Whaley 12.1

Strokes Gained: Par 4s 350-400 Yards (Last 24 Rounds)

​Detroit Golf Club has more Par 4s than most tour courses measuring between 350 and 400 yards. 

1. Davis Riley 13.6

2. Cam Davis 13.3

3. Tony Finau 9.7

4. Chase Seiffert 8.8

5. Taylor Moore 8.5

6. Si Woo Kim 8.3

7. Bill Haas 7.6

8. Cameron Young 7.5

9. Kelly Kraft 7.2

10. Will Zalatoris 7.2

11. Tyler Duncan 6.5

12. Maverick McNealy 6.1

13. Scott Piercy 5.8

14. Hank Lebioda 5.5

15. Austin Cook 5.5

Strokes Gained: Par 5s (Last 24 Rounds)

The four Par 5s at Detroit Golf Club are all 550 yards or longer. 

1. Sahith Theegala 16.6

2. Patrick Cantlay 14.3

3. Michael Gligic 14

4. Cameron Champ 13.7

5. Max Homa 12.2

6. Kevin Kisner 11

7. Stephan Jaeger 10.3

8. Aaron Baddeley 10.3

9. Taylor Pendrith 10.2

10. Satoshi Kodaira 9.8

11. Cam Davis 9.4

12. Will Zalatoris 9

13. Martin Trainer 9

14. Rickie Fowler 8.4

15. Chris Gotterup 8.4

16. Cameron Percy 8.2

17. Callum Tarren 8

Strokes Gained Putting: 0-5 Feet (Last 24 Rounds)

Putts from inside of five feet ranked the fifth toughest on tour last year. 

1. Sam Ryder 7.7

2. Ben Martin 7

3. Doc Redman 6.4

4. Lee Hodges 5.8

5. Hayden Buckley 5.7

6. Chesson Hadley 5.7

7. Andrew Landry 5.6

8. Danny Willett 5.5

9. Joel Dahmen 5.4

10. Austin Smotherman 5.1

11. Max Homa 5

12. Jim Knous 4.7

13. Mark Hubbard 4.6

14. Denny McCarthy 4.5

Strokes Gained Putting: 5-10 Feet (Last 24 Rounds)

​We can also examine Strokes Gained: Putting from 5-10 feet. 

1. Denny McCarthy 11.9

2. Max Homa 11.8

3. Brian Gay 11.7

4. Wyndham Clark 11

5. Dawie Van Der Walt 9.9

6. Cameron Young 9.8

7. Michael Gligic 9.6

8. Chesson Hadley 9.4

9. Patrick Cantlay 7.6

10. Aaron Baddeley 7.3

11. Justin Lower 7.2

12. Bill Haas 6.6

13. Joohyung Kim 6.5

14. Austin Cook 6.4

15. Mark Hubbard 6

Selections​

Cameron Davis (35-1 Circa Sports)

It’s rare to back a defending champion, but Davis' form is too hard to resist with three top-10s in his last four starts. He’s fourth in this week's field for Opportunities Gained and sixth for Birdie Or Better Gained. 

Maverick McNealy (45-1 Circa Sports)

McNealy has made the cut here twice, including an eighth-place finish in 2020. He is also a prolific birdie maker who has been one of the better putters on tour over the last two years. 

Taylor Pendrith (65-1 BetMGM)

Pendrith missed around four months with a fractured rib and had to withdraw from the John Deere Classic due to COVID-19. The Canadian made his return three weeks ago with a 13th at the Barbasol and then 11th at the Barracuda. Pendrith is a big hitter and ranks seventh in this week's field for Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee.

Brendan Steele (70-1 DraftKings)

Steele was a popular choice last week at the 3M Open but failed to make the cut. This week he drifts up to double the price, but the numbers, other than the putting, are at the top of the field, with Steele ranking No. 1 in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking over the last 24 rounds. 

Cameron Champ (75-1 DraftKings)

Following five missed cuts, Champ found some form with a 16th last week. He opened with 75 but posted rounds of 68-67-67 over the final 54 holes. Champ ranks fifth in this field for Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee. 

Callum Tarren (100-1 Circa Sports)

Tarren was on the card last week at the 3M Open and finished seventh. He has been inside the top-25 in three of his last four starts. The Englishman gained almost 10 strokes with his ball striking last week. 

Michael Thorbjornsen (135-1 Circa Sports)

Thorbjornsen is a 20-year-old All-American at Stanford who finished fourth at the Travelers by leading the field for Strokes Gained: Putting. The greens at TPC River Highlands are the same Poa and Bentgrass mix as this week in Detroit. His Travelers finish was the best by an amateur since 2016. This week, the young star will look to top that by becoming the first amateur to win a PGA Tour event since Phil Mickelson in 1991.

Adam Schenk (180-1 DraftKings)

Schenk has made the cut all three years at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. He ranked fifth in the field for SG: Approach last week and ranks in the top 15 in this field for SG: Approach, SG: Ball Striking and Good Drives Gained.

Hero Open​

Richie Ramsay birdied three of his last four holes to win the Cazoo Classic at a price of 28-1 and earn his first DP World Tour victory in more than seven years. Frenchman Julien Guerrier led by three at the turn Sunday before carding three bogeys in his final six holes to finish third. Paul Waring was runner-up. 

Ramsay (20-1), Waring (40-1) and Guerrier (50-1) are in the field this week at the Hero Open at Fairmont St. Andrews. The market is headed by Ryan Fox (11-1), who has a victory, three runners-up and a third in just 15 starts in 2022. Adrian Otaegui (22-1) won the Scottish Championship on this course in 2020. Romain Langasque (25-1) has five top-10s this year. Oliver Bekker (28-1) finished runner-up at the Catalunya Championship in May. 

Hurly Long (28-1) is back in Europe after two top-10s on the PGA Tour in consecutive weeks (fourth at the Barbasol and seventh at the Barracuda). Also in the field are Espen Kofstad (30-1), Antoine Rozner (33-1), defending champion Grant Forrest (33-1), Callum Shinkwin (35-1), Edoardo Molinari (40-1) and Richard Mansell (40-1).

The Event​

The Hero Open was created as part of the DP World Tour’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. It was originally planned as a revival of the English Open. 

The inaugural tournament was held at Forest of Arden in England. Last year, the tournament moved to its current venue at Fairmont St. Andrews. 

The Course

The Torrance Course at Fairmont St. Andrews is named after former European Tour player and course designer Sam Torrance, who ranks 10th on the tour’s all-time wins list (21) and is an eight-time Ryder Cup member including a win as captain in 2002. 

Torrance carved out this links course on agricultural land in Fife, Scotland, in 2001. It is a Par 72 of 7,230 yards and was redesigned by Gary Stephenson in 2009. The course has links characteristics but is not considered a true links by purists. It is a clifftop track that overlooks the North Sea. 

The fairways are wide and generous with a fair amount of undulation on a Bentgrass and Fescue surface overseeded with Rye. The Bentgrass and Fescue greens are relatively large and fast but well-protected by pot bunkers. A composite of the Torrance and Kittoch courses have hosted numerous British Open qualifiers, and the Torrance course hosted the Senior Scottish Open from 2009-2014. 

Recent Winners​

2021: Grant Forrest (-24/264); 75-1

2020: Sam Horsfield (-18/270); 30-1*

Played at the Forest of Arden Hotel and Country Club*

Fairmont St. Andrews also hosted the 2020 Scottish Championship won by Adrian Otaegui with a score of 265 (-23) at a price of 50-1. 

Selections​

Hurly Long (31-1 Boyd Sports)

Long posted top-10 finishes at the Barbasol and Barracuda against better fields than he will face this week. 

Callum Shinkwin (31-1 Boyd Sports)

Shinkwin is a proven player on links-style setups with a runner-up at the 2017 Scottish Open, a top-10 at the 2020 Dunhill Links and fourth at Celtic Manor and third at London Golf Club last year. 

Espen Kofstad (35-1 Westgate Superbook)

Kofstad finished 13th and 16th at the Barbasol and Barracuda. 

Marcus Helligkilde (40-1 Westgate SuperBook)

Helligkilde finished eighth and 13th at the Barbasol and Barracuda.

Andy Sullivan (50-1 BetMGM)

Sullivan has missed 10 of 16 cuts but showed signs of life last week with an eighth at Hillside. His 134 on the weekend was the best of any player in the field. 

Eddie Pepperell (50-1 BetMGM)

Pepperell finished 11th last week at Hillside for his best finish in a season that has seen him miss nine of 13 cuts. He ranked third in the field for Strokes Gained: Approach and eighth for Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green.

James Morrison (60-1 Boyd Sports)

Morrison finished runner-up here last year. He also finished 26th at the Barracuda, 36th in one of the more elite fields of the season at the Scottish Open and 13th at the Irish Open. 

LIV Bedminster​

This weekend marks the third of eight events for LIV Golf in 2022. The event will be held in Bedminster, New Jersey, at Trump National Golf Club. Like all of the LIV events, this event will not be without controversy as there is a planned protest from several groups representing 9/11 families. 

Like the first two events, 48 players will play individually and in groups of four for the team competition. The four new faces for the Bedminster event include Henrik Stenson (80-1), who was relieved of his position as 2023 European Ryder Cup captain, Jason Kokrak (22-1), Paul Casey (25-1) and Charles Howell III (35-1). 

Dustin Johnson (11-2) is coming off a sixth-place finish at the British Open and has finished 7-3 in the first two LIV events. Bryson DeChambeau (10-1) finished eighth two weeks ago at St. Andrews. Abraham Ancer finished 11th at St. Andrews and is joined at 12-1 by Talor Gooch and Louis Oosthuizen. Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka (each 16-1) follow. Branden Grace (18-1) won the previous LIV event in Portland. 

Selections​

Bryson DeChambeau (10-1 Westgate SuperBook)

It’s been an injury-riddled year for DeChambeau but he appears to be healthy again with a 10th-place finish at LIV Portland and eighth at the British Open (his best finish since a runner-up in August at the BMW Championship). Trump National is long and a perfect bomb-and-gouge setup for DeChambeau.

Matthew Wolff (30-1 Westgate SuperBook)

Wolff, who finished second to DeChambeau in the U.S. Open at nearby Winged Foot in 2020, is another bomb-and-gouge player. He was eighth last time out at LIV Portland.

Justin Harding (40-1 Westgate SuperBook)

Other than DJ, Oosthuizen and Gooch, Harding is the only player to finish in the top-10 for both LIV Golf events so far. 

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