The Confidence Factor: Rocket Mortgage Classic Preview 2019

Rock out with your Kid Rock out!

Rocket Mortgage Classic

Detroit Golf Club

Detroit Rock City

Yards (per official scorecard): 7,340
Par: 72 (36-36)
Greens: 5,150 square feet; Bent/Poa annua.
Stimpmeter: 12 feet.
Rough:  Kentucky Bluegrass blends starting at 3.5 inches.
Bunkers: 87
Water Hazards: 1
Architect(s): Donald Ross (1916)
Purse: $7.3 million.

500 FedExCup Points. $1.314 million (winner).

Defending Champion: Inaugural event.
Notes: Top 70 and ties make the cut.

Previous Winners: Returns next week

2018-19 Winners

Event Winner
   
Safeway Open Kevin Tway**
CIMB Classic Marc Leishman
CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES Brooks Koepka
Sanderson Farms Championship Cameron Champ**
WGC-HSBC Champions Xander Schauffele
Shriners Hospitals for Children Bryson DeChambeau
Mayakoba Golf Classic Matt Kuchar
The RSM Classic Charles Howell III
Hero World Challenge* Jon Rahm
Sentry TOC Xander Schauffele (2)
Sony Open in Hawaii Matt Kuchar (2)
60th Desert Classic Adam Long**
Farmers Insurance Open Justin Rose
Waste Management Rickie Fowler
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Phil Mickelson
Genesis Open J.B. Holmes
WGC-Mexico Championship Dustin Johnson
The Honda Classic Keith Mitchell**
Arnold Palmer Invitational Francesco Molinari
THE PLAYERS Rory McIlroy
Valspar Championship Paul Casey
WGC-Match Play Kevin Kisner
Corales Punta Cana Graeme McDowell
Valero Texas Open Corey Conners**
83rd Masters Tournament Tiger Woods
RBC Heritage C.T. Pan**
Zurich Classic of New Orleans Ryan Palmer & Jon Rahm (2)
Wells Fargo Championship Max Homa**
AT&T Byron Nelson Sung Kang**
PGA Championship Brooks Koepka (2)
Charles Schwab Challenge Kevin Na
Memorial Patrick Cantlay
RBC Canadian Open Rory McIlroy (2)
United States Open Gary Woodland
Travelers Championship Chez Reavie

(* unofficial event; **First-time winner)

Facts and Figures:

Tournament Record: Inaugural Event.
Odd Fact: 17 holes of the North and 1 hole from the South make up the composite course.
Odd Fact II: Dustin Johnson is the only player in the OWGR top 10 playing.
Odd Fact III: The top two players (not already exempt) who finished T8 or better will be entered into The Open Championship at Royal Portrush next month.

 

The Confidence Factor was the weekly column I wrote for PGATOUR.COM. It has evolved into Horses for Courses. I’ve included the link here for you.

Thoughts

Sure, it’s not a major but this is sixth consecutive event on Bent/Poa (Bethpage, Colonial, Memorial, RBC CO and Pebble) and sixth consecutive event with normal or below normal green sizes (less than 6,000 square feet on average).

I wrote the above last week and it fits again this week.

Donald Ross greens will test the flat sticks if their iron play is loose. Humps and bumps will keep the attention of the field of 156 as they try to make as many birdies as possible.

Four Par-5 holes combined with light rough off the fairway should also contribute to low scores this week as the tournament folks aren’t going to ratchet up the difficulty in the first edition.

The field is light, unsurprisingly, but the value is to be had as the pros continue their run of “northern” courses (minus Pebble Beach). I’m looking for players who have no problem scoring and taking it low. This week will also be a slump buster for my money as a brand new track should provide clarity for clouded swing thoughts and uneven recent play. With only a handful of events left before the FedExCup Playoffs, the next three weeks will be sink or swim for the fringe players.

Chez Reavie looks to make it two in a row while Gary Woodland returns to competition after winning his first major. I’ll have thoughts on both below.

I gave you a few nice ones last week in here spread throughout. Let’s see if we can keep it going!

 

The Chalk

Dustin Johnson: Ain’t rocket science at the Rocket Mortgage, fam.

Chez Reavie: Blistering form would have seen him sit No. 1 this week if DJ would have taken the week off. His current run of form is more than outstanding and shows no signs of slowing down.

Hideki Matsuyama: Should be drooling like the rest of them with light rough off the fairways and four Par-5 holes as he looks to finally breakthrough in calendar 2019.

Brandt Snedeker: Donald Ross? Poa? I should be moving him up but there’s nowhere to go!

Rickie Fowler: He wears Rocket Mortgage on his sleeve and does their commercials. Surely he’ll want to impress in the inaugural event but I’ll understand frustrated gamers who will not agree with me.

Sungjae Im: Of his last eight rounds he’s posted a pair of 64s and a 66 so he should be dialed in. He knows and I know that this field is ripe for knocking off his first win.

Joaquin Niemann: Put all four rounds in the 60s for the first time in 2019 for T5 last week. Small greens will accentuate his ball-striking but his putter will need to make the trip as well. He was 16th in SG: Putting last week.

Rory Sabbatini: A bit Groundhog Day this, no? When the form continues into a major, as it did with T43 at Pebble Beach, he goes right back in. Fantastic season rolls on for Sabbo.

Kevin Streelman: Added T15 last week to his already impressive run of form that includes three top 10s in his last six on his own ball.

Gary Woodland: Big watermark this week as we’ll see/learn/understand if/how/when the U.S. Open champ continues on after his life-changing win. His demeanor reads ALL BUSINESS so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, especially after NOT playing last week. This course sets up perfectly for him otherwise.

Ryan Moore: Another Ross lover, Moore gave it a run, as he usually does, last week before 72 on Saturday stalled his momentum. His last two events he’s opened with 65 at Memorial and posted a Friday 65 at Travelers. Got. It.

Billy Horschel: Broke a streak of T23 or better at three straight with T32 at Pebble Beach so I’m hardly panicking. Last summer when he saw Keene Trace for the first time he posted 22-under to claim T2.

Viktor Hovland: Was last week the mulligan after the U.S. Open and cross country flight?? Reavie went T3-WIN during that stretch. Pro golf is hard, folks, but this dude has plenty of talent. Led the field in SG: Off the Tee last week and that never hurts.

 

Mystery Men

Bubba Watson: If he didn’t fire last week on one of his favorites, there’s no way I’m going back this week, even with four Par-5 holes.

Patrick Reed: His last top 25 was Mexico City. This is a recording. He will enjoy the lack of rough and is a super putter so a wonderful outside play this week.

Charley Hoffman: Man, he RAKES at Travelers except when he didn’t last week. MC-MC last two outings gives me pause.

 

Next Tier

Brian Harman: Go on lefty, have it. 66-66-66 to close last week for T8 and four straight.

Stephan Jaeger: He’s made 5 of his last eight, including three straight, and all are T30 or better. Fantastic for any lineup.

Troy Merritt: Didn’t he beat Rickie Fowler at Robert Trent Jones Club when the QLN moved there for one season? Didn’t he win last year when the Barbasol moved to Keene Trace and post 23-under in soft conditions? Hot start at Memorial and a decent start at Travelers in his last two moves him up my list.

Jason Dufner: No advantage on the greens, eh? T4 at Quail Hollow and T7 Memorial suggest there’s enough here to take a look at. Doesn’t hurt he played the weekend at Pebble Beach either.

Matthew Wolff: I mean, he won a million times in college and made the cut in his pro debut last week. I don’t think there’s any value with him in a field like this (wide open) because everyone knows about him. There’s no doubt he can play.

Aaron Wise: I know the AT&T Byron Nelson wasn’t a new event but it was played at a new track in 2018. Wise made 29082 birdies and won handily. He gave it a run at the U.S. Open and has been making plenty of birds all season.

Kevin Kisner: Ok, I’ve seen enough. I’m trying to hide him down here as I believe he’s in for a big week. T15 last week is his best since winning WGC-Match Play in March.

Ben An: T17 at Memorial followed by T16 at the U.S. Open. What’s not to like? Oh, right, MC last week as he didn’t break par. Sounds about right so that’s why he’s down here. Again.

Kevin Tway: Tell him this is the wine country of Michigan! His win at Par-72 Silverado seemed like 100 years ago but his T5 last week was the best yet during a streak of seven straight.

Zach Sucher: He had two choices after Saturday last week. Blow up and waste two great rounds or Show up and ball out on Sunday. T2 gave us our answer but expecting him to bounce back and do it again might be a stretch. With his credit cards paid off and the weight of the world off of his shoulders, he might just fire again!

Vaughn Taylor: Course form last week put him over the top for me and he cashed solo fourth. Let’s see if the heat from five straight burns on.

Kyoung Hoon Lee: His only MC since AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am was at the U.S. Open. They are not playing at Pebble Beach this week.

Jimmy Walker: Signs of life with a pair of 67s to open and close at Colonial plus 65 to open at RBC CO. He should be further down the list but still on your radar.

Nick Watney: Since MC at Harbour Town, he has one round above 72. T31 is the worst of five paydays in that stretch.

Corey Conners: Best GIR guy in the field and has NOT mailed it in since his win at Valero.

Matt Jones: Steady season could get better this week as he’s a Par-5 roaster.

Martin Laird: Never has been bothered by a bit of Poa and tree-lined Par-72 courses. Best finish of five straight was T21 last week with a 2-over closing round. Gaining on it.

 

Just Missed:

Jason Kokrak: The streak is over at 17 for the season after he couldn’t buy a putt last week. I’d EXPECT an immediate bounce back but I’m not putting my money where my typing is.

Alex Prugh: T21 at Pebble and 20th at Travelers. Let’s not over-think this, especially with how many GIR he usually pegs.

Brian Stuard: Michigan native has had a very solid season and should continue that success this week. His best finish this season came in the big ballpark at Valero (T4).

Sebastian Munoz: His streak of T11 or better across two both Tours ended with 69-73 MC last week. He’s allowed one bad round a month.

J.J. Spaun: I’m playing the trend and on Poa doesn’t hurt my argument.

Keith Mitchell: With minimal rough and a benign setup, this is exactly what the doctor ordered. Grip it, rip it and make 25 birdies.

Cameron Tringale: He’s going to break hearts this week, again, I can feel it. If he can just get to Sunday, his last three rounds to end tournaments are 67, 65 and 66. Matt Kuchar is impressed.

Roberto Diaz: Cashed in nine of his last 11 including a career-best T8 last week. VAMOS!

Mackenzie Hughes: T51 last week included an opening round 64 but his streak of top-14 finishes ends at two.

Brendan Steele: T41 followed by T21 = my interest as he hasn’t put together anything this season. Super value here especially on tree-lined and Poa.

Long Shots

Hank Lebioda: Super ball-striking and birdie numbers. Made 10 of his last 12.

Seth Reeves: Top 40 in both Par-5 scoring categories and put together his best three rounds in a while last week. Now about that closing 77…

Trey Mullinax: Another big hitter like Reeves, he’ll hit more GIR and has better scoring stats.

Tom Hoge: I like guys who make cuts (6 of last 7) and his two best rounds of spring were his first two last week at Travelers.

Sepp Straka: Busted a streak of three straight, including T29 at Pebble Beach, with MC last week. I’ll point out he posted 70-69 (-1) after crossing the country after his first major.

Harris English: 5 straight.

Doc Redman: Anyone who posts 62 in a Monday qualifier should get a sniff in this category.

Sangmoon Bae: Eight rounds of 70 or better. Don’t forget he’s won on TOUR twice.

Wyndham Clark: Broke a terrible run of 5 –> MC with T15 last week. Catch them before they pop!

Wes Roach: 5 –> before MC last week. T11 at RBC included four rounds in the 60s. Top 25 Par-5 scoring.

Sam Ryder: Opened 67-67 last week before cooling off. He’s 69th (nice) in SG: Total and make plenty of birdies.

Anybody Who Should Have Played Well Last Week But Didn’t Making Us All Look Foolish: So double down or abandon ship? I’m looking at you Charley Hoffman!

 

Fades

Bigger names struggling at the moment

Charles Howell III: He turns into a pumpkin after April but this year his last top 25 (stroke play) was in early March at Bay Hill.

Si Woo Kim: I’ve faded him so it’s time to whack a Ham on him for outright winner. You can buy me a ham sandwich with your winnings. He’s one for six since T21 at Augusta.

Cameron Smith: Young Aussie has hit the wall as T51 is his best in his last 10 starts worldwide since T6 in Mexico City.

 

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out on Twitter (@MikeGlasscott) or email me mikeglasscott@gmail.com.

 

 

 

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