PGA Core Plays
By Derek Hill
Rocket Mortgage Classic
This week the PGA Tour returns to Detroit Golf Club (North) which will be hosting the second edition of the Rocket Mortgage Classic. It is a 7,334-yard par 72. Last year had a surprising but great story of Nate Lashley running away with the win after being the last guy in the field. The course played possibly the easiest on tour last season. The 5-under cut line was the lowest cut on tour since 2016. It is expected that the rough will be grown out to make the course play a little more difficult this year.
The fairways will be lined with trees pretty much tee to green. With the rough being lengthened, it will be tough for players to stop the ball on relatively small quick greens. Last year, the thought was that the players would have a hard time hitting the green from the rough but players just picked this course apart. I would expect that this will come into play a little more this year. This means that hitting fairways and greens will be important this week. Look for guys who rank high in categories like Driving accuracy, SG:Tee-to-Green, SG:Approach, GIR%, and rough proximity. I would expect the champion this week to be an average or better putter but I don’t think putting will be as important this week as hitting fairways and greens.
Although it is a bit of a drop off as far as field strength, there are some big names playing this week. Amongst them are guys like: Rickie Fowler, Bryson DeChambeau, Bubba Watson, Hideki Matsuyama, Patrick Reed, Jason Day, Tony Finau, and Webb Simpson.
Webb Simpson: The guy is just a stone-cold killer. Nothing flashy. Just a beautiful, fundamental, solid, all-around golfer. Accurate off the tee. Solid on approach. Great putter. There is nothing keeping me from putting him in my lineups.
Tyrrell Hatton: If Simpson is option 1A, Hatton is 1B. He has been playing so well as of late. His Tee-to-green game is almost unbeatable. Combine that with being one of the best putters on tour this season and you’ve got a recipe for a win.
Bryson DeChambeau: With as much as he has been playing since the restart, and how hard he swings it, you wonder if fatigue will catch up with him at some point. You also wonder if there will be a course that just doesn’t fit his game. So far, the answer to those questions is no. He has 6 consecutive top-10 finishes. With a weaker field this week, I’d say his chances of winning this week are the highest they’ve been since the restart. His game projects well in Detroit.
Top-End Maybes: Hideki Matsuyama, Patrick Reed
Viktor Hovland: T23, T21, T11 in the 3 loaded events since the restart. Very solid from tee to green. Putting is just barely below average. Notched a T13 last year in just his second start as a pro.
JT Poston: T11 at the inaugural event last year. Was coming off consecutive top 10 finishes before just missing the cut at The Travelers. Top 10 putter who showed that when his approaches get relatively close, he can convert them into birdies in bunches.
Doc Redman: Redman’s value gets a major lift this week, probably for good reason. He has made all 3 cuts since the restart, 2 of which resulted in top 25 finishes. This week projects to be his best when you consider he placed 2nd last year after a Monday qualifier. 13th in driving accuracy and 17th in SG:approach.
Rory Sabbatini: The resurgence of Sabbatini’s career continues. He continues to place inside the top 25. He finished T3 at this event last year where he led the field in driving accuracy
Brenden Todd: It’s been 2 days since DJ raised the trophy at The Travelers and Todd is still hitting fairways. He couldn’t miss a fairway and rarely missed a green. If he could have converted on his 12 chances at birdie, his story could have been much different. I fully expect to see more fairways and greens hit this week. A few more made putts could have him in contention.
Will Gordon: The pressure is off Gordon to secure his tour status. He can play with less pressure this week. Coming off his impressive T3 at the Travelers. His last 5 starts on the PGA tour have resulted in 4 top 25s, 2 of which were top 10s. Ranks 13th in GIR%. Very cheap mid-tier play this week.
Mid-Tier Maybes: Sungjae Im, Adam Hadwin, Brandt Snedeker
Value Play Loves:
Brian Stuard: Stuard has made all 3 cuts since the resume which is quite an accomplishment considering the field strength. Coming of T20 last week. 5th in driving accuracy. T5 at 2019 Rocket Mortgage Classic.
Value Play Likes:
Cameron Tringale: T5 in 2019. 28th in SG: Approach, 37th in SG: Tee-to-Green.
Harry Higgs: 27th in rough proximity. 2 of 3 cuts made since restart. In all honesty, I think Higgs is trending up and could find himself knocking on the door of the top 50 within a year or so.
Value Play Maybes: Ted Potter Jr., Wyndham Clark