Rocket Mortgage Classic Picks & Preview

Studying the form ahead of the Rocket Mortgage Classic
Niall Lyons
Wed, June 26, 9:12 AM EDT

We welcome a new course to the rota this week with the Detroit Golf Club taking centre stage and in the run up to the final major of the year in a few weeks we have a strong field. Dustin Johnson heads the betting and there's no doubting his credentials as he hoovers up titles like these year after year and is certainly more prolific/interested than the world number one when it comes to run of the mill tour events. A new course presents challenges though and the +500 mark doesn't interest me a whole pile despite his obvious chances. The Donald Ross design should present enough of a challenge from tee to green to make the event interesting from a punting perspective but expect plenty of birdies.

The crowds here will be noisy having been starved of tournament golf for a fair while and this should play into the hands of Rickie Fowler. He has an excellent record in Phoenix where the liveliest fans of the year congregate in Arizona. His recent form takes a bit of a hit though with only one top 20 in his last four starts. Instead I'll opt for another Phoenix specialist in the shape of Hideki Matsuyama. He has been progressing nicely this season and win is certainly only around the corner and looks a nailed on to get over the line before the end of the year. Smallish greens should play into Hideki's hands with solid approach play and the Poa Annua surfaces that usually levels the playing field should be an advantage also. 6th at the Memorial was backed up with a top 25 at Pebble Beach and Matusyama's winless run which dates back to the Bridgestone in 2017 may just come to an end here.

3pts WIN H.Matsuyama +1000

The top players in the game rarely have to play courses that have never been used in tournament golf and that is somewhat of an advantage to the rest. Indeed it could be an angle that those coming off the Web.com in the last 18 months or so could be suited as they are used to playing tracks they've never played on. For this reason I think a couple of new kids on the block look value this week and I'll plump for Sungjae Im. His seamless transition to the main tour has been somewhat underestimated by a few. With three top 5s and a further three top 10s he can be quietly confident that he has been one of the best performers from those graduating in the past year or so. He putts well on Poa Annua greens and finished with a 66 last time out at the Travelers to finish 21st. Aaron Wise won when the Byron Nelson visited a new track and Sungjae Im may just be next best in that category to try and emulate his feat.

1.5pts WIN S.Im  +5000

1.5pts FINISH TOP 10 S.Im  +600

Upon mentioning Aaron Wise I think he must be supported also. Wise shattered the Byron Nelson scoring record when shooting 23 under to win it last year. That was the first jaunt to Trinity Forest and a track that hasn't been seen by these pros could well elevate his chances again. A score towards 20 under will no doubt be needed again here. As an attacking prospect he is as good as they come and for someone who I think is a future major winner taking prices around 50/1 in a field like this should pay dividends in the long run. He isn't going all to well lately but he started well at Pebble eventually to finish 35th. A shade inconsistent but capable of special things and I'll take the chance this week.

1pt WIN A.Wise +4500

1.5pts FINISH TOP 10 A.Wise  +500

Joaquinn Niemann posted positive strokes gained stats in all five departments last week and is another of the young kids who could grab this opportunity in Detroit. Those stats resulted in a 5th placed finish at the Travelers which was his best finish on the tour to date. It was his 5th top 10 on the tour in the last 18 months or so and given the right week to go and chase birdies the Chilean could get off the mark. Bookmakers have been cagey enough and I'd have preferred a bigger price but I still think he's a likely contender. A downside can be holing putts at the business end, but Poa Annua greens may help that aspect.

1pt WIN J.Niemann +5000

1pt FINISH TOP 10 J.Niemann +550

Finally Kevin Streelman is still backable after a solid week at the Travelers. Four top 10s this season to date represents one of his best and he looks set to challenge again and make his 7th cut on the trot. Streelman is another who excels when birdies are easy to come by and his confidence will be sky high giving his results. Another to gain strokes in all departments last week and if he manages to hole a few more putts should be well on contention at the weekend. Horschel, Kokrak and Bud Cauley were the next handful on my list who just failed to make the grade. Good luck this week if you're playing, we could do with a winner...it comes this week.

1pt WIN K.Streelman +4000

1pt FINISH TOP 10 K.Streelman +550
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