Pete’s Picks: Rocket Mortgage Classic
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Pete’s Picks: Rocket Mortgage Classic



Following up a Traveler’s Championship that equaled the second longest playoff in PGA Tour history—the 1949 Motor City Open had an 11-hole playoff—the Tour moves to the Motor City for the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

Bryson DeChambeau overpowered Detroit Golf Club last year and the defending champion is the favorite to go back-to-back this week. DeChambeau hasn’t finished better than 18th in his last four starts but he is highest ranked player in the field and his game is clearly a good fit in the Motor City.

I am switching to FanDuel this week as DraftKings is not using the tier format this week. FanDuel has tiers A, B, C, and D in order from favorites to longshots. There are also two extra tiers that allow players to pick anyone else from the rest of the field.

Tier A

 Players:

Bryson DeChambeau

Webb Simpson

Patrick Reed

Hideki Matsuyama

The Pick: Bryson DeChambeau

Hard not to like the defending champion this week, DeChambeau leads the Tour in driving distance but hits just over half of his fairways—good for 186th on Tour. Detroit Golf Club is wide open, especially on the back nine which will favor the bombers.

DeChambeau ranks first in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee and in the top five in both Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and Strokes Gained: Total. With top-50 rankings in Strokes Gained: Approach and Strokes Gained: Putting, DeChambeau is one of the most well-rounded players on Tour. His game sets up well for nearly any golf course, and being defending champion in Detroit could be the icing on the cake.

Tier B

Players:

Joaquin Niemann

Will Zalatoris

Jason Kokrak

Sungjae Im

Kevin Kisner

Matthew Wolff

The Pick: Joaquin Niemann

Niemann has struggled as of late, with just two top-25 finishes in his last eight starts. But the Chilean showed signs of life at the Traveler’s last week. Niemann gained over 14 shots on the field in Driving Distance: Gained at TPC River Highlands. The 22-year old uses his power well as he ranks fifth in the field in Strokes Gained on par 5s. Niemann should be able to take advantage of those holes this week and give himself plenty of good looks for birdies. Niemann should have a good chance of earning his second win on Tour this week.

Tier C

Players:

Charley Hoffman

Cameron Tringale

Keegan Bradley

Bubba Watson

Doc Redman

Jason Day

Rickie Fowler

Gary Woodland

The Pick: Doc Redman

Redman is in great form with two top 10 finishes in his last five starts. Redman finished just 62nd after a tough 73-71 weekend last week at TPC River Highlands, but his ball striking remained as he gained 3.9 strokes on approach shots. Redman has had some close calls recently, most notably a T2 finish at the Palmetto Championship at Congaree. Redman has also had success in Detroit, posting a runner-up finish in 2019.

Tier D

Players:

Emiliano Grillo

Si Woo Kim

Max Homa

Lucas Glover

Kyle Stanley

Brandt Snedeker

Phil Mickelson

Chez Reavie

The Pick: Kyle Stanley

The two-time Tour winner has a pair of top-25 finishes in his last six starts and is one of the best ball strikers on Tour. Stanley ranks 23rd in Strokes Gained: Approach and 16th in Greens In Regulation percentage, which should be an advantage this week as Detroit Golf Club has an about eight percent higher green in regulation percentage than the average Tour venue.

Stanley ranks in the top-15 in approaches from 125-150 yards and 150-175 yards, which will play at any Tour stop. If his putter gets hot—Stanley ranks 195th in Strokes Gained: Putting on the season—he could contend this week.

The Field:

The Pick: Patton Kizzire

Detroit Golf Club will yield plenty of birdies this week, and Kizzire has been making plenty of them as he ranks fourth on Tour in Birdies or Better: Gained over the past 24 rounds. Kizzire hasn’t been in great form missing three straight cuts. But he has two top-5 finishes in his last five starts with back-to-back T3 finishes at the AT&T Byron Nelson and the Charles Schwab Challenge.

The Pick: Hank Lebioda

Lebioda posted a T5 finish last week in Hartford and has three top-25 finishes his last five starts. Lebioda hits more than 2/3 of his greens in regulation and ranks fourth in rough proximity. So he should be able to get out of trouble given his weakness of the tee as Lebioda ranks just 109th in driving accuracy percentage and 122nd in driving distance. Lebioda’s total Strokes Gained: Off the Tee ranks is also outside the top-100 on Tour. If he gets into contention thru 54 holes, Lebioda could make a big move on Sunday as he ranks seventh in final round scoring average, including a Sunday 66 at TPC River Highlands.

About the author

Peter Santo

Peter Santo

Peter Santo is a golf writer and a graduate of Emerson College. He previously covered all sports for The Boston Globe, Associated Press, and The Washington Times.

When not writing about or playing golf, he can often be found listening to or creating country music.

He can be reached by email at petersanto1129@gmail.com

Follow him on Twitter @_PeterSanto