Two PGA Tour regular-season tournaments remain before the FedEx Cup playoffs. At the conclusion of next week's Wyndham Championship, the top 125 players in the standings will be assured of keeping their tour card for next season and advance to the playoffs.
The penultimate push for the postseason takes place this week in the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club. This will be the fourth time the tournament has been held at this Donald Ross design, with an average winning score of 22-under-par in the previous three events. Another birdie-fest is expected, with wedge play and a hot putter being the key ingredients. The Par 72 features relatively wide fairways with a Poa Annua/Bentgrass blend on the greens. Three of the four Par 5s are reachable, four Par 4s measure less than 400 yards and two of the four Par 3s are between 140 and 160 yards. What this tournament boils down to is players having a large percentage of approach shots from 150 yards or less.
Driving Accuracy will not be crucial and, while distance off the tee can't hurt, stuffing it in close with a wedge and making a lot of birdie putts should determine the outcome. One final statistic I looked at, and one I always consider on Poa Annua greens, is putting from inside of 10 feet. Poa Annua is a spongy turf that can get bumpy, especially late in the afternoon, so being able to hole a lot of shortish putts will likely separate contenders from the pack.
One other note to keep in mind: Ross also designed Sedgefield Country Club, host of next week’s tournament in Greensboro, North Carolina. Look for players who typically play well on Ross designs when formulating your handicap — and know that players who fare well this week may do so again at the Wyndham.
Here are the full tournament head-to-head matchups I considered and those that I played for the Rocket Mortgage Classic:
Considered (30-30-3 YTD)
— Webb Simpson (-115) over Cameron Tringale
— Russell Henley (-110) over Cameron Tringale
Played (29-24-2 YTD)
Max Homa (-130) over Adam Scott: This is a big statistical mismatch as Homa rates as one of my top players in the field and tops Scott in nearly every category. Scott has recent top-15 finishes at the U.S. Open and British Open, which doesn't surprise me, but I don't see him contending in a non-major, birdie-fest type of event. I would make this price -150 on Homa and it may just get there before they tee it up Thursday.
Kevin Kisner (+ 140) over Cameron Davis: Davis is the defending champion and, looking at his game and his numbers, it’s easy to see why he played well here last year. But that was Davis' first and only PGA Tour win and I imagine his first title defense will come with pressure, nerves and expectations. Kisner is a proven veteran who is a perfect fit for this course, and I was pretty shocked to see this price. Kisner has an excellent track record at this tournament — and an even better one on Donald Ross courses.
Chris Kirk (-150) over Kevin Streelman: Kirk is one of the best in this field in proximity to the hole from 150 yards or less, one of my highest-weighted stats this week. He is better than Streelman in nearly every category I considered, including making birdies, which is a must this week. The price is about right — maybe it could go a touch higher — but the -150 is telling us Kirk has a decided advantage and I agree.
Adam Svensson (+ 130) over Mackenzie Hughes: Similar to the price on Kisner, this is another one that made me do a double take. That being said, I have seen different prices offered at different books. I'm OK with Svensson down to as low as + 105 or + 110 — anything plus money. Svensson is one of the best in the field from 100 to 150 yards. Hughes' best weapon is a tremendous putter, but his approach play from less than 150 yards is among the worst in the field. Svensson also ranks higher in making birdies. Again, anything plus money is worth a shot.
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