Pat Mayo and Geoff Fienberg preview the course and run through the odds while making their 2021 Rocket Mortgage Classic Picks. The guys give their fantasy golf picks, provide their one and done strategy for the event from Detroit GC.
2021 Rocket Mortgage Classic: Field
156 Players | Top 65 & Ties Make The Cut
First Tee: Thursday, July 1
Defending Champion: Bryson DeChambeau
One more major, another WGC, the Olympics and the FedEx Cup playoffs. That’s the next two months on the PGA TOUR. Shockingly, not every player is playing every event. And the 2021 Rocket Mortgage Classic gets the added headache of seeing many of the top European talents teeing it up in Ireland this week. It will be worse for next week’s John Deere Classic when a collection of Americans are in the Scottish Open field to get in British Open prep.
That leaves defending champion Bryson DeChambeau, Hideki Matsuyama, Webb Simpson and Patrick Reed headlining the field of 156 in Detroit this week. Will Zalatoris, Max Homa, Phil Mickelson, Joaquin Niemann, Garrick Higgo, Jason Kokrak, Gary Woodland, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson and Charley Hoffman make up the next level of competitor. Overall, that’s just 10 players inside the Top 50 of the world golf rankings.
2021 Rocket Mortgage Classic: Key Stats
Strokes Gained: Off The Tee
Par 4s Gained 350-400 Yards
Mayo’s Key Stats powered by FantasyNational.com
2021 Rocket Mortgage Classic: Course
Course: Detroit Golf Club
Greens: Bentgrass (with Poa)
2021 Rocket Mortgage Classic: Past Winners
2020: Bryson DeChambeau -23
2019: Nate Lashley -25
2021 Rocket Mortgage Classic: Notes
Now that the Pete Dye portion of the schedule has been completed, we move on to the Donald Ross phase. Ross courses include:
- Detroit Golf Club (Rocket Mortgage)
- Sedgefield CC (Wyndham Championship)
- East Lake GC (TOUR Championship)
The Rocket Mortgage Classic is an amalgamation of both courses at Detroit Golf Club. There has been some re-routing for the tournament, including using a hole from the South Course. The South’s first hole will function as the tournament’s third hole and will be played from the North Course’s first hole tee box. Meanwhile, the regular eighth and ninth holes will be No. 1 and No. 2 for the tournament.
One of the most generous courses on TOUR off the tee, the field has hit over 50% of its drives over 300 yards at Detroit Golf Club while finding the short grass at a 65% clip. Unsurprisingly, this is where Bryson tested out the strategy that resulted in him hoisting the cleverly named U.S. Open Trophy later in 2020. Bryson became the first PGA TOUR winner to lead the field in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (+6.7) and Strokes Gained: Putting (+7.8) during the ShotLink era. And yes, Bryson also led the field in Driving Distance (351 yards)
Now, it’s unclear whether it was due to the setup or the field all came to the realization at the same time, but Strokes Gained Off-The-Tee held a lot of weight last year compared to the inaugural event in 2019. Of the top 16 leaders in SG: OTT, 15 made the cut, and all but Bubba Watson (MC) and Kevin Chappell (T62) finished inside the Top 30. Nine of those players lost strokes to the field on approach.
— Stats from Fantasy National Golf Club
Is that a one-year aberration? We’re not going to know until we actually see the event this year. But it’s an interesting path to take on DraftKings or finding betting sleepers as most, myself included, always overweight approach. This week, I’ve made them relatively even in my weighing.
Despite its 7,370 yards in total, Detroit Golf Club is actually way shorter. I talk every year about Riviera having hidden distance because of elevation and a lot of yardage saved on one par 4 and the par 5s, but DGC is kind of the opposite. There are four par 4s measuring between 450 and 500 yards, but since the average driving distance is around 300 yards (third highest on TOUR), those holes don’t actually play that long. Add on three of the four par 5s which can’t protect themselves from eagles, and you have an average approach distribution that resembles the Travelers from last week, a course that came in just over 6,800 yards. The majority of approaches will be coming from 175 yards and in — that’s scoring time. Through three rounds a year ago, Matthew Wolff had made a combined 25 birdies + eagles. That’s pretty outrageous.
Easier courses can allow more of the field to challenge for a win. There’s a reason the U.S. Open leaderboard is a who’s who of elite names while the Byron Nelson is an event where no one can run down KH Lee. So, using Fantasy National Golf Club, and sorting by “Easy Relative to Par” over the past 24 rounds, you’ll find …
2021 Rocket Mortgage Classic Picks
Will Zalatoris ($10,000)
Fresh off a no birdie performance at the U.S. Open two weeks ago, Zalatoris finally gets to return to his birdiefest roots at a glorified Korn Ferry course. It would be one thing if his core skills have been out of whack during his recent cold streak (he has missed two of his past five cuts), but they really haven’t. He’s persisted as an elite driver, the irons have dipped back to earth, but aren’t bad by any stretch. Like many, it’s all awful chipping and putting. Hopefully, at a course this easy, with an average GIR rate of 73%, chipping won’t be too necessary, and let’s pray it’s a week he putts.
Sepp Straka ($7,700)
Austria just got bounced from the Euros, so it’s time for some positive news for the borderland of Bavaria. After missing three cuts in a row, Straka quietly ascended to T10 by the end of Sunday in Connecticut, finishing fourth in the field in SG: Ball Striking for the week. That’s a perfect time to find form before returning to a course where he’s posted a T8 and T11 in two starts.
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Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. (Subscribe for video or audio). Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2020 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award, and was a finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 21 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo has been recognized across multiple sports (Football, Baseball & Golf), mediums (Video, Writing & Podcasting), genre (Humor), and game formats (Daily Fantasy and Traditions Season Long). Beyond sports, Mayo covers everything from entertainment to pop culture to politics. If you have a fantasy question, general inquiry or snarky comment, ship it to Mayo at ThePatMayoExperience@gmail.com and the best will be addressed on the show.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is ThePME) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.
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