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We are back with another First Round Leader Preview, as Tom Jacobs breaks down the Rocket Mortgage Classic from a day one perspective!

Rocket Mortgage Classic First Round Leader Picks and Predictions: Back Young For a Fast Start

The Rocket Mortgage Classic is one of the more straightforward events on the schedule, and while scoring is getting harder year-on-year, I am sure the score will still be around the -20 mark.

This event has seen breakthroughs for Nate Lashley and Cameron Davis in its three-year history, so we could see another this week.

Let us look at who could get off to a fast start here.

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Rocket Mortgage Classic First Round Leader Strategy

The wind looks to be down in the morning as it stands, but there isn't a lot throughout the day either, and with some rain leading into the event the course will be there for the taking on Thursday.

Let us look whether there has been an advantage in either wave historically, over the past three years as well.

All times shown are Eastern Time

  • 2021 - Davis Thompson - 63 (-9) - 8:35 am Tee Time
  • 2020 - Doc Redman, Kevin Kisner and Scott Stallings - 65 (-7) - 2 AM Tee Times, 1 PM Tee Time
  • 2019 - Nate Lashley - 63 (-9) - 8:05 am Tee Time

With two of the three outright leaders and two co-leaders in 2019 all teeing off in the morning wave, it looks like the early starters could prosper here.

I don't think afternoon starters should be ruled out, but I would certainly favor the morning wave at this stage.

Who in This Field Has Started Fastest on Tour This Season?

Here are the 10 fastest starters in this field based on the current Round 1 Scoring Average in the 2021/22 PGA Tour season.

  • Matt Kuchar - (2nd overall in 2021/22 - Scoring Average 68.29) - Low Opening Round - 64 (Sony Open)
  • Russell Henley - (4th overall in 2021/22 - Scoring Average 68.53) - Low Opening Round - 62 (Sony Open)
  • Patrick Cantlay - (6th overall in 2021/22 - Scoring Average 68.71) - Low Opening Round - 62 (Amex)
  • Wyndham Clark - (9th overall in 2021/22 - Scoring Average 69.00) - Low Opening Round - 63 (Canadian Open)
  • Cameron Young - (9th overall in 2021/22 - Scoring Average 69.00) - Low Opening Round - 63 (RBC Heritage)
  • Jonathan Byrd - (11th overall in 2021/22 - Scoring Average 69.13) - Low Opening Round - 64 (Mexico Open)
  • Patton Kizzire - (12th overall in 2021/22 - Scoring Average 69.20) - Low Opening Round - 63 (Sony Open)
  • Joel Dahmen - (14th overall in 2021/22 - Scoring Average 69.23) - Low Opening Round - 64 (Wells Fargo)
  • Denny McCarthy - (15th overall in 2021/22 - Scoring Average 69.25) - Low Opening Round - 65 (Wells Fargo)
  • Webb Simpson - (15th overall in 2021/22 - Scoring Average 69.25) - Low Opening Round - 64 (Travelers)

What Score Is Required To Lead After Round 1?

With just three renewals to look at, it was a fairly simple equation. We have seen two 63's and a 65 lead here on Thursday. This averages out to 63.66, but lets round that down to 63, given it has been the score needed in two of the three renewals here.

The Favorites in This Week's First Round Leader Market

Here are the odds for the top-10 in the Rocket Mortgage Classic, First Round Leader Market. Here we will give you the best price and the implied chance on each of the top-10 in the market.

PlayerOddsImplied Chance
Patrick Cantlay+28003.4%
Cameron Young+35002.8%
Tony Finau+35002.8%
Will Zalatoris+35002.8%
Max Homa +40002.4%
Cam Davis+45002.2%
Adam Scott +50002%
Davis Riley+55001.8%
Keegan Bradley+55001.8%
Kevin Kisner+55001.8%

Just as he is in the outright market, Patrick Cantlay is the favorite to be First Round Leader at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. 25 times in his career, Patrick Cantlay has been within 2 of the first round lead and of those 25 occasions and 4 of those have turned into first round leads.

First Round Leader Selections

Cameron Young +3500

After another impressive performance at the British Open, where he posted another first round lead and finished 2nd in the end, Young will be looking for his first PGA Tour title on this track.

The course is perfect for his strong driving and streaky putting game, which has allowed Bryson DeChambeau and Cameron Davis to win already, and there is no reason he cannot follow.

This was the site of Davis' breakthrough and Nate Lashley's and Young is a superior talent to both.

Eight times already Young has been within two of the first round lead in his career, of which five have been round 1 leads, including three times since April alone.

It might be a tough ask for him to keep peddling out these round 1 leads, but the course suits and if he is going to win this week, I think he will do it behind another fast start.

Young is teeing it up with fellow Wake Forest alum, Will Zalatoris, and that can only be a boost.

Cameron Young will tee off #1 tee at 12:43 pm with Davis Love III and Will Zalatoris

Denny McCarthy +7000

Denny McCarthy is in great form right now, making 6 of his last 7 cuts, and finishing inside the top-10 three times in that run, including at the U.S. Open.

5th at the Memorial and 7th at the U.S. Open are finishes that suggest he's capable of winning this event, and in his most recent start he finished 6th at the John Deere Classic.

This isn't an outright bet though, so we need to look at McCarthy's form in round 1 to date.

So far in 2022, McCarthy has positioned himself within two of the first round lead four times, and those efforts were in addition to six other occasions he's done so in his career.

He only has one first round lead to his name, but he's been close on nine other occasions, and that is enough evidence, given his current form to give me confidence here.

McCarthy has posted 9th and 15th place finishes at the Wyndham Championship, another Donald Ross design, and he also finished 21st here on debut, with four sub-70 rounds.

Given his current form and early tee time, I think he can fire the 63 or 64 he is going to need, to lead here on day one.

Denny McCarthy will tee off #1 tee at 7:07 am, with Kramer Hickok and Sam Ryder

Cameron Champ +7000

Seven times in his career, Cameron Champ has sat within two of the first-round lead and three of those turned into leads.

One of those leads was at the Sanderson Farms which he won, and I like a comp for this event, and Champ tends to signpost when he will play well.

He was 16th last week at the 3M Open, despite opening with a 75 and when he plays well the week before, he's always capable of making run again.

Champ finished 46th here on debut but opened with rounds of 66 and 65 to sit 2nd at the halfway mark, and a year later came back and finished 12th. A final round 66 in 2020 saw him vault up the leaderboard into that 12th spot and he's exactly the sort of volatile player that pays off in this market.

Cameron Champ will tee off #10 tee at 7:40 am with Gary Woodland and Patrick Cantlay

Scott Stallings +7500

Scott Stallings, like Denny McCarthy is in great form right now, and also like McCarthy he has done it by starting fast this year.

Three times this year, Stallings has been within two of the lead and if you go back to the start of the wraparound season it has been five times in total.

He hasn't yet turned one of them into a first round lead, but at some stage I am sure he will, and he was able to do that here in 2019, opening with a 65 to co-lead on day one.

Stallings is feast or famine right now, as he has three top-8 finishes and two missed cuts in his last five starts. If he makes the weekend, it appears he is ready to top-10, but most importantly these results are coming courtesy of hot starts.

Stallings opened with rounds of 67-64 at the Charles Schwab, when finishing 4th, and bounced back from a 74 in round 1 of the Travelers to shoot a second-round 64 and final-round 63, so the low rounds are there. Last time out, at the John Deere, Stallings opened 67-66-64, so he's clearly capable of scoring on this easy track.

In his three most recent made cuts, Stallings has ranked 3rd, 4th and 19th in SG Approach, and 12th, 12th and 6th in SG Tee to Green, so he's clearly striking the ball well enough to contend.

Stallings has played here three times, and while he has only finished 64th, 39th and 25th, he has opened with rounds of 66, 65 and 68, to sit 11th, 1st and 21st in three round 1 efforts here.

Scott Stallings will tee off #1 tee at 8:13 am with Hayden Buckley and Harry Higgs

Chesson Hadley +11000

Chesson Hadley is in great form right now, making six-straight cuts and posting three top-10's in that time frame.

Hadley has finished 2nd at the Sanderson Farms in the past, which is an event I link to this, and he put in some final-round heroics last season at the Wyndham, another I like - shooting a 62 to keep his card.

I like both of the above events as a link to this, and more importantly I think he's capable of both starting fast and competing in this event.

Hadley has posted four first-round leads in his career and 23 times in total he has finished within two of the first-round lead.

He is a player in a rich vein of form, who can go low on day one, and I will chance he does exactly that here on Thursday.

Chesson Hadley will tee off #1 tee at 12:32 pm with Alex Smalley and Rory Sabbatini

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Article Author


Tom Jacobs is the host of the Lost Fore Words golf podcast and has been writing betting articles on golf for the past decade. Tom also co-hosts the DP World Tour Picks & Bets show on the Mayo Media Network, so has his finger on the pulse on all the major Tours. A long-suffering Nottingham Forest fan, Tom also enjoys watching Soccer at the weekend, and was delighted to see his Forest team win promotion this season!


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