The PGA Tour will make it’s debut at Detroit Golf Club this week for the newly-titled Rocket Mortgage Classic. The event is replacing the Quicken Loans National on the Tour schedule. It is part of The Open Qualifying Series and will award entry for the 2019 season’s final Major to two non-exempt players.
The Quicken Loans National was played at TPC Potomac at Avenal Farm the last two years. Francesco Molinari was the 2018 winner ahead of his Open Championship victory. There will be just two more events after this week until the 2019 Open Championship at Royal Portrush, in Northern Ireland.
The Rocket Mortgage Classic follows the second PGA Tour win of Chez Reavie at last week’s Travelers Championship. A field of 156 will be among the first Tour pros to play Detroit Golf Club. Dustin Johnson (+600), ranked No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, headlines those in attendance. US Open champion Gary Woodland (+1400) will also participate in his first event as a Major champion.
The course: Detroit Golf Club
Detroit Golf Club was designed by Donald Ross in 1916. The course will measure 7,334 yards as a par 72. Other notable Donald Ross designs (or co-designs) on the Tour circuit include East Lake Golf Club (Tour Championship), Oakhill Country Club (2013 PGA Championship), and Pinehurst No. 2 (2014 US Open).
The longest hole on the course is the par 5 fourth, measuring 635 yards. All four of the par 5s top 550 yards. Two of the four par 3s exceed 200 yards, while the 10 par 4s range between 372 and 461 yards.
Accuracy off the tee is essential as trees and bunkers guard the sides of many fairways and approach shots need to be taken into consideration in order to navigate those near the greens. The only water to worry about on the course is short-left of the 14th green. Greens consist of Bluegrass, a form of Poa Annua common in northern climates.
Key stats to consider for the Rocket Mortgage Classic
We have no course history or previous data to go on for this week’s event with the PGA Tour debuting at Detroit Golf Club. We can pay added attention to the other Donald Ross-designed courses mentioned above.
Due to the length and design of the course, we’ll be looking at the key stats of Fairways Gained, Strokes Gained: Ball Striking, Strokes Gained: Putting, Opportunities Gained, and Sand Saves Gained.
My model at Fantasy National looks at the success of the players in the field in these statistics over their most recent 36 rounds played at courses measuring between 7,200 and 7,400 yards.
Rocket Mortgage Classic betting picks: Sleepers and values
Jason Dufner +4500 (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Dufner is a five-time winner on the PGA Tour, including the 2013 PGA Championship played at the Ross-designed Oakhill CC. His recent results include a T7 at the Memorial Tournament and a T35 at the US Open. He has previously ranked as high as No. 6 in the OWGR but has fallen all the way to 138th entering this week.
The stat model isn’t too friendly to Dufner, as he ranks 74th overall in the field. His top statistical ranks are 33rd in Opportunities Gained and 34th in Fairways Gained. Dufner has struggled with the putter this season but he has played best on Poa greens.
Harold Varner III +11000 (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Varner ranks 21st in the model and is the 11th-best ball striker in the field over everyone’s last 36 rounds. He finished T21 last week, but he was 17th in Strokes Gained: Total and T10 in SG: Putting, according to Data Golf.
He’s made just 12 of 21 cuts this season with two top 10s. He was in the final pairing with Brooks Koepka at the PGA Championship before a closing round of 81 knocked him down to T36. Varner hasn’t won in North America, but he has on the European circuit (2016 Australian PGA Championship). He has 10 career top 10s on the PGA Tour and will look to ride his hot putter to success in a weaker field. He’ll also be trying to gain entry to his first Open Championship since 2016.
Peter Uihlein +12500 (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Uihlein’s most recent professional win was on the Web.com Tour in 2017. He previously won on the European Tour in 2013. He’s coming off a missed cut at the Travelers which has further raised his odds. His best stretch of the season was a 13th at the Charles Schwab Challenge to follow up a fifth-place finish at the AT&T Byron Nelson.
He’s fourth in the field in Sand Saves over his last 36 rounds and 13th in Opportunities Gained.
Rocket Mortgage Classic betting picks: The winner
Billy Horschel +3300 (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Horschel ranks seventh in the model and is a strong value play with the odds suppressed for the top players in a weaker field. The 32-year-old is 41st in the world ranking but he’s the 10th-best player in the field by the OWGR.
He ranks ninth in Sand Saves, 13th in Ball Striking, 22nd in Fairways Gained, and 28th in Putting. He’s played just one of the last three events since his T9 finish at the Memorial and comes in well rested. Horschel missed the cut in just one of 20 events this year, picking up two top 10s.