Preview: 2020 Rocket Mortgage Classic

This man is eating up everything including my ambition to drop any coins on him.

There’s a reason he’s the favorite this week and it’s not his impressive diet!

Rocket Mortgage Classic

Detroit Golf Club

Detroit, Michigan

Yards: (per official scorecard): 7,340
Par: 72; (36-36)
Greens: Bent/Poa; 5,150 square feet on average.
Stimpmeter: 12′ max
Rough: Kentucky bluegrass mix at 3.5″.
Bunkers/Water Hazards 87/1
Architect(s): Donald Ross (1916); Renovators include Robert Trent Jones, Arthur Hills and most recently Bruce Hepner.
Purse: $7.5 million; $1.35 million and 500 FedExCup points (winner).
Defending Champion: Nate Lashley (-25), 263.
Fact of the Week: 17 holes from the North are joined by one hole from the South to make up this composite layout.
Fact of the Week II: Was moved to late May but returned to follow the Travelers in the “new” schedule as it did last year.

 

2019-2020 Season Winners

*- First-time winner

**- First-time winner AND rookie winner

Event Winner
   
A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier *- Joaquin Niemann
Sanderson Farms Championship *- Sebastian Munoz
Safeway Open Cameron Champ
Shriners Hospitals for Children Open Kevin Na
Houston Open *-Lanto Griffin
CJ CUP AT NINE BRIDGES Justin Thomas
ZOZO Championship Tiger Woods
WGC-HSBC Champions Rory McIlroy
Bermuda Championship Brendon Todd
Mayakoba Golf Classic Brendon Todd (2)
The RSM Classic *-Tyler Duncan
Hero World Challenge Henrik Stenson
Sentry Tournament of Champions Justin Thomas (2)
Sony Open Cameron Smith
The American Express Andrew Landry
Farmers Insurance Open Marc Leishman
Waste Management Phoenix Open Webb Simpson
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Nick Taylor
The Genesis Invitational Adam Scott
WGC-Mexico Championship Patrick Reed
The Honda Classic *-Sungjae Im
Arnold Palmer Invitational Tyrrell Hatton
THE PLAYERS Championship Abandoned due to COVID-19, no winner
Charles Schwab Challenge Daniel Berger
RBC Heritage Webb Simpson (2)
Travelers Championship Dustin Johnson

 

Horses for Courses publishes at PGATOUR.COM Tuesdays. It’s a look who has played well here recently so I suggest reading it as I won’t replicate all of the information here.

 

Recent Event Winners

Year Player Notes
2019 Nate Lashley Set the course record in Round 1 and Round 3 with 63. Led by six after 54 and won by the same amount.

 

Facts and Figures:

Tournament Record: 263; Lashley (2019).
Course Record: 63; Lashley and JT Poston.
Defending Champion(last): n/a
Multiple Winners Entered: n/a
First-time – TOUR Lashley
First-time – Event (last time) Lashley
Oldest Winner: Lashley, 36
Youngest Winner: Lashley, 36
Low Rounds 2019: 63; Lashley and Poston.

64; Ryan Armour and Viktor Hovland.

Odd Fact: Doc Redman won the Monday Qualifier and finished second.
Odd Fact II: Cut last year was 5-under so #GoLowYo

 

Quick thoughts:

Nate Lashley’s previous outing to his inaugural TOUR win was a VERY respectable T28 at the US Open at Pebble Beach. I’m not sure that preparation would pave the way for 28 birdies but he was obviously dialed in. No changes this year at the event, minus not having spectators, but it’s obvious that this place, weather permitting (hint: hot, no wind) will get turned over again.

Good News, Bad News:

Field overall calms down this week especially at the top. Only two players from the OWGR top 10 (Webb Simpson, Patrick Reed) and just six of the top 20. It’s hardly a surprise as guys aren’t going to play 8 weeks in a row when temperatures are in the 90s. Unless it’s Sungjae Im who gives zero honks about anything except playing golf.

Changes in Latitude, Changes in Altitude:

Not much of either this week as the hot weekend from Connecticut continues this week. Another week of Bent/Poa and a tree-lined parkland course with smallish greens and similar rough shouldn’t hold many surprises. Folks, 3-under didn’t see the weekend at Harbour Town or at TPC River Highlands and it was two off here last year. Be happy. Make birdies.

So What? So Let’s Dance!

Finally, four Par-5 holes! Time to swing it!

Acres of Fairway
Last 4 weeks:
 
Colonial 24
Hilton Head 22
Travelers 26
Detroit: 30

 

It won’t hurt that there’s only one water hazard so the course will be at the mercy of the pros again this weekend. Lashley was only T53 in driving distance but T11 in fairways so he had plenty of opportunities to fire at flags.

Time to rely on heat since course form really won’t take hold for a couple of more years. I’m looking at guys who are hitting it great and will have the most chances to convert birdie putts. Remember, there were 36 players who made 20 or more birdies last year and 10-under got you T42.

 

Heat Check:

Birdies Last Week SG: Tee-to-Green SG: Approach
     
01 Will Gordon 27 01 Viktor Hovland 01 Wesley Bryan
04 Ryan Armour 24 03 Doc Redman 03 Viktor Hovland
T5 Patton Kizzire 23 04 Si Woo Kim 04 Lucas Glover
07 Harold Varner 22 05 Tyler Duncan 05 Harold Varner
T8 Sam Burns 21 08 Brendon Todd 07 Patton Kizzire
  09 Kyle Stanley 08 Doc Redman
  10 Scott Stallings 09 Emiliano Grillo
    10 Scott Stallings

 

Webb Simpson: Racked up 25 birdies to win at Harbour Town his last time out. COVID-19 scare last week is behind him and if you link Donald Ross courses (Sedgefield) he should be quite comfortable again this week.

Bryson DeChambeau: Six straight top 10s is all I need to type but I’m excited to how BEEF CAKE takes on the Par-5s this week. I fired him in OAD at Travelers hoping to catch the breakout.

Tyrrell Hatton: Racked up 23 birds on HHI and co-led after 54 holes in his return. Closed 64-63-66 and didn’t win! That’s T3-WIN-T6 in his last three events.

Viktor Hovland: Trending in the right direction in his last three (T11, T21 and T23) shows he’s not slowing down after his win in Puerto Rico in March. Opened with 65 on Hilton Head and 63 last week so he should get a look at FRL as well. T13 here last year and solo fourth at Wyndham connects all of the dots.

Patrick Reed: Loaded up on him at RBC after T7 at Colonial. Gong Show fam. Back into the top 25 last week as he closed with 64. I’ll point out he’s past champ at Wyndham as well and broke a HORRENDOUS STREAK OF SHITE GOLF (no top 10s) here last year with T5. There’s your confirmation that this style fits.

 

Next Tier (not mentioned in Horses for Courses):

Hideki Matsuyama: Wrapped up the “first half” 80-77 weekend at Bay Hill and returned at Hilton Head with 74-70 MC. Wait, what’s he doing in here? Last 2 on Bent/Poa T5 Riviera and T6 Mexico City. Class trumps form.

Lucas Glover: Backed up his only over-par round in three starts with 63 to close last Sunday. He’s 34-under in those three starts but has only cashed T20, T21 and T23. Fly under that radar!

Kevin Na: My dude Jay loves him this week so I love him this week. Pre-tourney WD before RBC Heritage didn’t carry over last week as he posted 16-under for fifth. Last two times he played Wyndham were top 10s and has zero issues on Bent/Poa.

Brandt Snedeker: Shot 59 two years ago at Sedgefield. T5 here last year. Won at East Lake. Mr. PoaPopper. The end.

Sungjae Im: His last five rounds are just four-under but he should be ready to pop out of his funk. T6 last year at Wyndham and T21 at this event.

Tony Finau: Another who should be excited to eat off the tee and take advantage of his length tee-to-green! In his last 10 rounds his worst score is 70 once. He’s cashed MC-T33-T23 yet is 23-under. MAKE A PUTT ALREADY.

Doc Redman: Yeah, he’s in HFC but here’s more: He’s 27-under the last two weeks and that includes an over-par round. Throw that out and his last seven rounds are 28-under including 63 last Sunday. Not to mention he’s probably in a great mood because of his week in Michigan last year.

JT Poston: Yeah, he’s in HFC but here’s more: Look deeper than MC if you’re new here. Firing 70-69 MC last week is hardly diarrhea, especially coming off T10-T8 in his previous two. Finau MC on 3-under. Dig deeper.

Brendon Todd: One bad hole ruined a perfectly great week last week. He was 18-under after 54 and that included 61 on Saturday. I doubt he forgot how to play and should be eager to get back at it.

Will Gordon: Now with STM secured I would expect more fireworks to follow his T3 from last week. With pressure last week he found 62 and 64. Write his name down if you haven’t already!

Scottie Scheffler: Makes way too many birdies because he’s a nasty iron player. Also pre tournament WD at RBC and MC 70-67 last week should scare a few off.

 

Digging Deeper

Ryan Armour: Busted up a nasty MC streak two weeks ago at Harbour Town and then closed with 64 for T6 last week. Opened with 64 here last year before fading on the weekend.

Jason Dufner: Seven straight on TOUR and never anything wrong with that.

Kurt Kitayama: 14 of 15 and 11 straight worldwide dating back to August.

Maverick McNealy: Made 13 of his last 14. West Coast player will probably be smiling with Bent/Poa finally back on the menu.

Brian Stuard: Made a six-footer at RBC to play the weekend after closing with 64 at Colonial. Opened last week 65-67 before cashing T20. Michigan native is playing his major this week and I’m expecting a big one. 100-1 is slight but I’m diving in across the board anyhow.

Kyle Stanley: T21 last year and T24 last week.

Wyndham Clark: Likes a bit of a bomb-gouge-birdie fest. Turned it on this time last summer as well. Imagine if Wyndham won the Wyndham and won the Wyndham Rewards. Just imagine.

Tyler Duncan: 3 straight inside T32.

Brian Harman: Because I was all over him last week and that’s just how this works sometimes.

Harold Varner, III: Top 25 SG: Total, give it a wallop and finds plenty of GIR. Percolating.

Si Woo Kim: Throw me a life preserver and a parachute, just in case.

Wes Roach: Solo fifth two weeks ago on the KFT included a 63 and 22-under par. T3 last year converges nicely!

 

Ludicrous Speed:

Lanto Griffin, Talor Gooch, Aaron Wise, Sepp Straka, Peter Uihlein

 

Caution

Rickie Fowler: He’s Mr. Rocket Mortgage but with no fans around will he be distracted from his job of playing golf? I don’t care to break guys out of prolonged malaise so I’ll let your money do that.

Bubba Watson: I wrote last year: “If he doesn’t fire at Travelers where he’s won three times, how can I back him here?”. Shoe fits again this year.

Chris Kirk: Shot 26-under to win two weeks ago on KF Tour. Great comeback story and I wonder if he can stretch it out with all the attention.

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

 

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