The PGA Tour is in Michigan this week, where bomber Bryson DeChambeau will be looking to secure back-to-back victories at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, having dazzled with his big-hitting style at Detroit Golf Club twelve months ago.
Plenty of the world’s top players haven’t made the trip this week, so this must be viewed as a big opportunity for the current world number six to record another tour win, though he certainly won’t go unchallenged with the likes of 2021 Masters winner Hideki Matsuyama, Sungjae Im and last year’s runner-up Matt Wolff in the field.
What will the winner look like?
Whereas TPC River Highlands wasn’t long, Detroit Golf Club, originally put together by architect Donald Ross, provides players with more of a test in terms of distance, while its tight fairways demand accuracy off the tee, which is not something that was paramount in Connecticut last week.
In the two previous Rocket Mortgage Classics, approach play has been key, as has performance from tee to green, with strokes gained: tee-to-green being a key metric.
When Nate Lashley arose as something of a surprise winner of the inaugural playing back in 2019, he ranked third for strokes gained: tee-to-green at the end of the week, while big Bryson ranked fourth in that area. The ability to put on the fast and undulating greens at Detroit Golf Club will be key too. Again, strokes gained: putting was an area where both Lashley and DeChambeau thrived on route to lifting the trophy, both ranking second at the end of the week.
So, which players look like they fit the bill this week? More importantly, which players are worth betting on? Below is a selection of players that look worthy of sportsbook support.
Joaquin Niemann +2100
Naturally, Bryson is the hot favorite ahead of this week, but are his sportsbook odds too short? There is of course a reason for him being such a red-hot favorite, as he bombed his way around this place last year and if he’s on it, really shouldn’t be far away this time around. However, we have seen him lose his way at times, so there are probably better options, at least in terms of value for money.
One such option is Joaquin Niemann, who has played some fantastic golf this season. What the 22-year-old lacks in experience, he more than makes up for in ability. It’s been a good season for the youngster, who has bagged three top ten finishes, while he comes here off the back of a good showing at the Travelers last week, where had it not been for a third round 73, he would’ve been right up there.
What is eye-catching about the Chilean, who is currently ranked 12th on tour for strokes gained: off-the-tee and 15th for strokes gained: total, is the form he showed when playing at the Rocket Mortgage in 2019. On that occasion, he seemed perfectly suited to the test that Detroit Golf Club provides, as he ranked highly in lots of key areas, finishing the week in a very respectable fifth position. As mentioned in the fantasy preview, of those players who’ve played at least four rounds at this venue before, only the two previous winners of the Rocket Mortgage Classic average more strokes gained per round.
Niemann’s distance off the tee can also be an advantage this week, while we shouldn’t ignore the fact that right now, he is the eighth best on tour when it comes to scoring average. At the end of the day, we’ve seen Niemann get himself in the thick of it at numerous events this season, and on paper, he appears to have more going for him than a couple of other players who’re currently shorter in the betting, so a bet on the Chilean makes plenty of appeal.
Top 20 Finish
Henrik Norlander +650
This might seem a bit left field. After all, Henrik Norlander hasn’t exactly had the most fruitful year on tour, missing the cut on eight occasions, but he’s also got himself involved at the right end a few times, finishing in a tie for second at the Farmers Insurance, a second that was sandwiched between two top ’30s and a top 20. Went out the gates at a fierce pace at the Travelers last week, posting an opening-round 65, before three modest rounds saw him drop away and finish -1, so he’s not a man entirely out of form.
Norlander really played some of his best golf when playing in this tournament last season. At Detroit Golf Club in 2020, the Swede ranked as the number one player for the week in strokes gained: approach, strokes gained: tee-to-green and strokes gained: ball striking.
Unfortunately, his putting prevented him from turning a 12th place finish into serious contention for the title. The putter is likely to prevent him from getting his nose in front once again, but if he can play the same golf tee-to-green, there’s nothing stopping Norlander from once again slotting nicely into the top 20, and punters are advised to bet on him doing just that.
Top 30 Finish
Brian Stuard +300
Brian Stuard, who has just one PGA Tour victory to his name, doesn’t win very often, but fortunately, that’s not what we’re looking for here. It’s been and up and down season for the 38-year-old, a season with more downs than ups, though there are a few reasons as to why there seems to be some juice in the odds for him to make the top 30 in Michigan this week.
This is something of a home fixture for Stuard, so it was probably no surprise that in both 2019 and 2020, Stuard played some of his best stuff at the Rocket Mortgage, finishing fifth in 2019 and 30th last season. He’s the 11th best average scorer at Detroit Golf Club in this line-up, which is promising, as is the fact that he ranks as the 11th best in terms of strokes gained: total. What is also positive ahead of this week is that the Michigan native ranks as the second-best player on tour when it comes to driving accuracy. Being accurate off the tee on these tight, tree-lined fairways will certainly help.
Like Norlander, Stuard probably doesn’t have the all-round game to go out and win this, but he’s already proven that he can play well here, especially with the putter, which is key at this venue. In fact, of those players who’ve played at least four rounds here, Stuard ranks as the eighth best in terms of strokes gained: putting. There’s simply lots to like about his chances of highly placing this week and +300 on a top 30 finish is too good an opportunity to pass up.