rocket mortgage classic preview pga tour

The Golf Insider brings you his Rocket Mortgage Classic preview as the PGA tour heads to Detroit, Michigan.

It’s a new event on the annual PGA Tour, and sees the players head to the mid-West (where they stay for the next couple of weeks with upcoming tournaments in Minnesota and Illinois).

So fresh out of the wrapper, here’s the Golf Insider’s preview of the action in the “Great Lake State”…

The Tournament

For such a well-recognised city, it seems strange to learn that this is the first PGA Tour event held in Detroit – maybe a sign of the general profile of golfers in the US, and the Motor City’s blue-collar roots! But replacing the Quicken Loans National it does freshen up the schedule and it’ll be interesting to see how the tournament develops over the coming years. Given its spot in the middle of the “Major season” the field is nothing special… a decent one, without having too much strength in depth.

The Course

Located on the North side of the city, the Detroit Golf Club dates back to 1899, when it was founded by William Ferrand. This week’s venue, the North course, is a 7,340 yard track that plays as a par 72. It was designed by famous course architect, Donald Ross, one of two at this facility, and was opened in 1916. The course recently underwent an upgrade to get ready for tournament play, and bears the hallmarks of a Ross design with tree-lined fairways putting a premium on accuracy over power.

72-Hole Record – n/a

18-Hole Record – n/a

Past Winners n/a

The Field

A standard PGA Tour line-up in Michigan this week with 150+ players on show. Dustin Johnson is the 6/1 favourite.

The Weather – A mixed forecast with a 40% chance of rain on each of the first three days, dropping to a 20% chance on Sunday. Friday afternoon will see wind speeds peak, but at 10-12mph this should cause little trouble for the players. Temperatures will be in the mid to high 70s throughout.

The Chances

Hideki Matsuyama – $15 available

“Dustin Johnson is the obvious favourite here and could walk this event – but he’s no price. Rickie Fowler, at the odds, is much too skinny for me at barely double-figures. So at the top of the market, Matsuyama is prefered. He’s trending the right way, and a first win of 2019 can’t be far away. He’s posted 11 Top 25 finishes in 16 starts, not missed a cut and with an easy schedule he comes to Detroit fresher than most. Ranked 5th for Strokes Gained: Tee-to-green and 22nd for Greens-In-Regulation the expectation is for Matsuyama to take well to the Ross-designed course, and if he can just brush up on his putting, the main weakness in his game at the moment, then I’m sure he’ll be there or thereabouts.

Sung Jae Im – $51 available

“Im is another who is overdue a win. He was the leading player on the Tour last year and looks a future star of the game. I flagged him up at the start of the year as one of my players to watch, and although he hasn’t caught fire yet, aged just 21, time is on his side. Mind you, he’s still posted six Top 10’s this year and after a couple of MC’s bounced back with a 7th in the Canadian Open and a fast finishing 21st last week in Connecticut. He’s ranked No.1 for Birdies, and overall 13th on Scoring Average, key to what might be a low-scoring event. With no course form to work from 50/1 is a fair price.”

Brian Harman – $67 available

“Harman is beginning to find his mojo again after a slump in performance during the Spring. Recent form 31-27-50-8 makes for better reading, and last week’s Top 10 at the Travelers was rounded off with three straight rounds of 66. Harman is reliable off the tee, an accurate driver, and tidy around the greens, attributes which will be crucial this week. By no means prolific with just two career wins to date, but more than capable of competing in a run-of-the-mill event like this. If you can get the 80/1 he’s a great bet, or a shorter mark with extra e/w places on offer.”

Mackenzie Hughes – $101 available

“After a slow start to the season, Hughes is beginning to trend the right way. A recent 8th in the Charles Schwab Challenge, followed by a Top 20 in Canada, and then a joint Round 1 leader last week in the Travelers Championship, show his game is in pretty good shape. Now Hughes didn’t build on that opening 64 last week, but his confidence is high and coming into an event where there’s no prior form could prove a great leveller for the Canadian. He’s a calculated risk at the price, and worth backing IMO.”

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