June 27, 2023, 3:54 pm
The PGA Tour returns this week after the conclusion of another elevated event at the Travelers Championship. The “hometown” hero Keegan Bradley played lights out golf all week and was able to win in his native New England event and take home the $3.6 million dollar prize as well. I was not on him in DraftKings at all, but did have a 100-1 ticket on him, so let’s try to keep the moment going into this week.
No elevated status this week for the Rocket Mortgage Classic being played at Detroit Golf Club, but there are certainly enough big names and young up and comers to hopefully have another exciting week of golf.
This is a full 156-player field with the top 65 (and ties) advancing to the weekend.
Much like last week, there is going to be a lot of scoring this week, with a winning score north of 20 under par. There has been a good amount of rain in the area recently, which will leave soft scoring conditions for players to take advantage of a course that typically plays easy anyway.
The most common narrative you will hear about this week is that it is a bomber’s paradise. While this is true, it is important to not go too overboard with the idea and keep in mind putting is probably going to be the most important stat this week. If you are making multiple DraftKings lineups this week, I don’t mind making different “skillset” lineups to try and attack this event in different way. Make a few lineups of guys that absolutely bomb it off the tee, then make some of golfers that are elite putters, and finally sprinkle in some of golfers that excel at both.
My main point is, don’t automatically mark short hitters who putt great out of your player pools this week (Brendan Todd, Brian Harman, etc.).
This marks the fifth edition of the Rocket Mortgage Classic and each year it has been played at Detroit Golf Club.
Playing as a par-72 at 7,370 yards, Detroit Golf Club ranked the 8th easiest course on tour last season. There is virtually no water to speak of on the course, and the fairways are wider than average on Tour. The rough can get up to 4” well off the fairway, but nearby, it is rather non-penal.
Detroit GC plays as a traditional par-72 with four par-5s, four par-3s and ten par-4s. The par-4s have a variety of length to them as there are four that play under 400 yards and four that play between 450-500 yards. As is the case with most courses, the four par-5s typically play as the four easiest holes on the course (each yielding birdies at least 30% of the time, with the 577-yard 18th hole playing the easiest, surrendering a birdie at a nearly 50% rate).
Golfers will need to be dialed in with their wedges as nearly 50% of all approach shots come from under 150 yards. Because of this, Detroit GC has a much higher than average GIR (Green in Regulation) rates, even though the greens are smaller than Tour average.
Greens will be similar to what we saw last week listed as Bentgrass mixed with Poa. Rather than getting too deep in the weeds with putting splits on specific surfaces, I will just be taking a look at overall putting numbers.
Here is a link to a flyover of the course:
Surprisingly, this year is the strongest field the Rocket Mortgage Classic has put together. I say that because we are coming off of two elevated events and a major within the last four weeks, so it seemed like an obvious rest spot on the schedule. However, many of these guys will use this as one last tune-up before heading across the pond in a couple weeks for the Scottish Open and The Open Championship.
14 of the top 40 in the OWGR are playing this week headlined by the spokesman for Rocket Mortgage himself, Rickie Fowler. Max Homa, Justin Thomas, Hideki Matsuyama, Sungjae Im, Tom Kim, and defending champion Tony Finau are all in the field as well.
As of this writing, note that Hayden Buckley (injury), Patrick Rodgers, Harris English and Andrew Putnam have withdrawn after originally being listed in the field.
Kyle Reifers, Peter Kuest, Andy Spencer, and Brett Stagmaier are your Monday qualifiers for the week. Reifers and Stagmaier both Monday qualified for the Travelers last week, made the cut, then made it out in time to Detroit to qualify again. That is dedication.
Here are the key stats I am considering when building my lineups this week.
- SG: Approach– Iron play is always on this list and forever will be. It is the most correlated long-term stat with success. This is one of the rare weeks where approach will be leveled off somewhat, but golfers still need to set themselves up for birdie to have any shot of contending this week.
- Proximity 100-150– Wedges and putting are the name of the game this week. Bumping up this proximity range is also a reason why we will dial back the overall approach weight this week.
- SG: OTT/Driving Distance– Cam Davis, Tony Finau, Bryson DeChambeau are the three most recent champions here. It’s not the only way to contend here, but it certainly gives golfers a massive advantage when there is no penalty for being inaccurate off the tee this week.
- SG: Easy Courses- This is going to be a birdie fest. This course has been proven to be one of the easiest on Tour, so I want to give extra weight to guys who perform well in these environments.
- SG: P- When looking at past leaderboards, almost everyone near the top gained nearly three strokes to the field with putting. Golfers can hit it to six feet all day and if they are making their putts at a reasonable rate, they are going to drop down the board. I will be zoning in on the 5–10-foot range as nearly 70% of all birdie or better putts have historically come from under 10 feet here.
Follow me on Twitter @mlafem10 for additional thoughts as the week goes on and I’d be happy to help out with any lineup questions you have. Let’s make some money!
DFS Top Tier Play
Everybody and their brother will be in on Rickie Fowler this week. He is putting well, playing great, and this will be the worst field he has competed in all year. This is not me telling you not to play Rickie this week, because he will definitely be in my player pool this week. I did want to highlight Im in this spot, however. Sungjae is certainly not a bomber by any means, which I think will cause him to get overlooked a little this week. A rather pedestrian Sunday saw him fall to 29th last week, but there are signs of life from the player who was a top ten machine earlier in the year. Im is one of, if not the best and most consistent putters of all players above the $9K mark and has shown the ability to take advantage of easier courses in the past (he ranks 7th in SG: Total on easy courses over the past 24 rounds). A lot of players will gravitate to the resurgence of Justin Thomas or even Tony Finau due to the win last year (his putting right now is bad enough to scare me off), so I will gladly take the ownership discount and play Im in this spot as either my second guy in or leading off with him in some to get a unique start.
Others Considered: Rickie Fowler ($10,400), Tom Kim ($9,800)
DFS Mid Tier Play
I am going right back to the well here with Eckroat. He got a little more popular than I would have liked anyway, but he once again came through with a top 25 on the actual leaderboard and in DraftKings scoring. I was expecting a bigger price jump this week, so I will gladly fit him in at an even $8K. I do expect his popularity to get up there again this week as Eckroat is playing incredible golf and his game sets up well here. Eckroat has gained off the tee in nine of his past ten weighted events and has shown flashes of getting hot with the putter, gaining nearly six strokes to the field with the flat stick last week. He doesn’t quite fit the “bomber” profile, but he is plenty long enough (averages 307 yards off the tee) to take advantage here. I will note, if you have both Eckroat and Fowler in your lineup, you are going to want to get different elsewhere as both project to be high-owned.
Others Considered: Ludvig Aberg ($8,700), Adam Hadwin ($8,100)
DFS Value Play
Detry is a guy that I am always willing to give a look to on easy courses. Last week resulted in a missed cut, but that was against a much stronger field. Excellent distance off the tee, isn’t terrible with his irons, plays easy courses well, and has the ability to flash high upside with the putter, this is the bull case on Detry this week. Over in Europe he has shown the ability to contend quite often (coming up just short often) and has acquired seven top 25 finishes on tour this season. Detry also ranks top 5 in the field on easier par-4s, which there are a host of this week.
Others Considered: Doug Ghim ($7,400), Cam Champ ($7,000)
Sungjae Im +2000
Austin Eckroat +5000
JJ Spaun +6000
Jospeh Bramlett +7500
Mark Hubbard +9000
Cam Champ +15000
Position Player Name DK Salary G Sungjae Im $9,400 G Austin Eckroat $8,000 G Tom Kim $9,800 G Thomas Detry $7,400 G G REMAINING BUDGET $15,400 for 2 golfers