Rocket Mortgage Classic ⏤ Picks & Analysis

Fantasy Golf

Detroit Golf Club1

The PGA TOUR circles back to the midwest for this week's Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club in Michigan. The fields have been pretty strong through the first few weeks, but a number of the best players in the world will be missing from action this week as they rest up in advance of the two-week run through Muirfield Village Golf Club that starts next week. Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm and Dustin Johnson are all staying home and that should represent a great opportunity for some of the lesser-known players to grab a PGA TOUR title.

The Rocket Mortgage Classic is a relatively new PGA TOUR event and there is not a ton of history to draw from in looking at what kind of players should have success here. We expect scores will be low as Nate Lashley won his first PGA TOUR title at this event last year with a score of 25 under par. He finished six shots clear of Doc Redman--a former U.S. Amateur champion who returns to Detroit Golf Club this year to avenge his defeat.

Weather shouldn't be much of a factor as the sun is predicted to shine throughout the week. Breezes are not anticipated to climb much above 10mph and the humidity is likely to be high. All of these factors combine to suggest that the conditions will be ripe for scoring and we recommend all fantasy contestants keep their eye on the players who can really take it deep. 

Group A

Group A takes on a slightly different look as we've seen it fully loaded with the majority of the top-five players in the world over the last few weeks. This week we've got names like Matsuyama, Fowler and Day all running with the lead pack. While all three are among the best in the world at their best, we're going to shy away from each of them as each has their own particularized concerns. Matsuyama has played just once since the post-COVID reboot and he missed the cut at RBC. Rickie Fowler has switched to cross-handed putting which is a serious concern as his putting is usually one of the biggest strengths of his game. Jason Day continues to struggle with injury issues and simply does not look like the Jason Day we remember from a few years ago when he was a threat at all the majors.

Once we eliminate those three we are left with Dechambeau, Reed and our pick Webb Simpson. We last heard from Webb when he was firing a final-round 64 to win the RBC Heritage and then forced to withdraw the following week from the Travelers Championship due to precautionary reasons related to COVID-19. Really, we think it's a complete toss up between Webb and and Dechambeau but the edge Webb has with the putter combined with some shakiness off the tee from Dechambeau last week leave us with the instinct to pick Webb. You probably can't go wrong taking either player.

Group B

Group B is an interesting mix of PGA TOUR veterans, journeymen and one near-rookie who appears to have a bright future on the PGA TOUR. We'll start by eliminating Tony Finau as a birdie-fest like we expect this week is not a great fit for a player whose putter is not always particularly cooperative. We're going to strike Bubba Watson for the same reason as we have a hard time picturing him putting well enough over 72 holes to light up a golf course like this. Brandt Snedeker and Kevin Kisner can roll it, but neither has been anything better than mediocre as of late.

Our pick is going to be the near-rookie Viktor Hovland. He is coming off a stretch of three straight top-25 finishes including four rounds in the sixties last week en route to a T11 finish. He's shot in the 60s in ten of his twelve rounds since the return to PGA TOUR action and he just bagged his first PGA TOUR win at the Puerto Rico Open back in February. He's an emerging talent on the PGA TOUR and he might be a low-ownership pick out of the crop of veterans in Group B.

Group C

We aren't going to overcomplicate our choice of Doc Redman out of Group C. His game has looked good coming out of the COVID pause as he's improved steadily week-by-week from a made cut (T58) at Colonial to a top-25 finish at Harbour Town and then a T11 finish at last week's Travelers Championship. Moreover, he returns to Detroit Golf Club having posted his best-ever PGA TOUR finish here just a year ago when he finished 2nd behind Nate Lashley. He is on form and he's at a comfortable venue and that makes him an obvious pick to us.

Group D

Group D includes an interesting mix of international players from which three seem to stand out. Korean Sungjae Im was among the hottest players on the PGA TOUR at the time of the COVID pause and the high end of his game might be the best of the six listed players here. Canadian Adam Hadwin hasn't cracked the top-25 this calendar year but also has made nine of his ten cuts this season. Spaniard Rafa Cabrera-Bello has been a feast or famine player this season with a string of top-25s interspersed with four missed cuts (including two weeks ago at the RBC Heritage). Australia's Cameron Davis is yet to make a post-COVID cut, but did have three top tens in his previous ten events leading into the COVID pause.

Our pick is going to be England's Tyrell Hatton. He was really cooking heading into the COVID pause with a sixth-place finish at the WGC Mexico preceding his first-ever PGA TOUR win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational just prior to the pause. Any thoughts his game may have gotten lost were quickly dispatched with his third-place finish at the RBC Heritage and we suspect that his strong play this season will continue at the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

Group E

Group E is going to be a major separator between the players who compete for the top prizes in this week's contests and the players who finish out of the money. There are likely to be a few missed cuts in this group but some potential for a top-25 finish and if you can duck the MC and find the diamond among these aging veteran players you'll be sure to sneak your way up the leaderboard. The two Ryder Cup captains (Stricker and Harrington) are both aging their way out of competitive PGA TOUR action and haven't done enough to merit a choice this week. Pat Perez and Jason Dufner are two guys whose uncooperative putters make them tough sells at a birdie-fest type event like this one.

We're going to ride a semi-hot hand and go with Lucas Glover. The 2009 U.S. Open champion shot a final-round 63 at the Travelers Championship last week and has just one over-par round so far this season. He's been in the top-25 all three weeks since the reboot and we see no other player in the group with enough form to merit a pick over him.

Group F

This might be consider to be the "has-been" group as most of these players are well past their prime and looking to find the form they may recall from years past. Bill Haas continues to struggle to come back from some scarring associated with a tragic car accident that took the life of one of his close friends. He's understandably had a tough time getting back into the swing of things since then and we hope he soon finds the Fedex Cup-winning form from just a few years ago. Luke Donald is a former world number one, but his Sunday 79 at the Travelers Championship was the worst round of anyone who made the cut. Jimmy Walker's battles with Lyme Disease seem to have felled him and Aaron Baddeley seems to be another player who had his game ruined by Stack and Tilt.

The two best options from this group appear to us to be Stewart Cink and our pick of former Masters Champion Charl Schwartzel. He had a lame go of it at the Travelers Championship (MC) but had a solid closing three days at the RBC Heritage and his game pre-COVID seemed to be rounding into form. He finished in the top 20 at the Honda Classic and bagged a top-5 at Pebble Beach just a few weeks prior. He's a definite risk, but then again so is everyone in group F.