Given that the Fourth of July falls on Sunday this year, it would be difficult to see the crowds at Detroit Golf Club, the host venue of this week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic, sticking around to watch eight playoff holes, as the fans did last week in Connecticut at the Travelers Championship.
Fireworks and golf do not tend to mix well. If the event’s two-year short history is any indication, though, a lengthy overtime should not be necessary as the winning margin has been six and three, respectively.
Defending champion Bryson DeChambeau headlines this year’s field, as the highest-ranked of the six top-25 players in attendance this week. It may not be the strongest field the Tour sees this season, but even the “weaker” events have regularly boasted compelling drama this season.
We do not have a choice, but to like DeChambeau’s chances a lot. Is he the best bet? He is at least a good bet to finish better than he did as the defending champion of the U.S. Open two weeks ago.
15. Ryan Armour
It has been a miserable season as a whole from the 45-year-old Ohio native, but he has shown considerable improvement as of late, finishing T8 at the Palmetto Championship At Congaree three weeks ago, and shooting a second-round 64 at last week’s Travelers Championship to surge into contention before struggling on the weekend.
That should give him some encouragement at Detroit Golf Club, where he finished T4 a year ago, and opened the 2019 edition with an 8-under 64.
At 135th in the FedExCup standings, Armour is especially motivated, and everything is lining up for him to dink and dunk his way into the mix again.
World Rank: 239
Odds To Win: 125-1
14. Troy Merritt
Merritt was not quite as stellar in June as he was in May, where he posted three top-10 finishes, but he looked like his better version over the first two days of last week’s Travelers Championship, opening 68-65.
The 35-year-old Iowan grinded out a T8 in this event a year ago, showing Detroit Golf Club to be an excellent fit with his game. This course should not be especially penal in regards to his struggles off the tee.
World Rank: 129
Odds To Win: 150-1
13. Doc Redman
A young Clemson product, Redman has shown a considerable level of comfort at Detroit Golf Club, finishing runner-up in the inaugural edition two years ago, which he followed up with a T21 last year.
All eight of his Rocket Mortgage Rounds have been in the 65-70 range. Gunning for his first Tour victory, Redman finished runner-up to Garrick Higgo three weeks ago at the Palmetto Championship at Congaree, one of four top 10s on his season.
World Rank: 131
Odds To Win: 50-1
12. Jason Kokrak
He might not be all that exciting in how he carries himself on the course, but with July about to begin, the 36-year-old finds himself as one of five Tour players with two wins on the season.
His most recent came late last month at the Charles Schwab Classic, and after playing just two rounds total in June, Kokrak should be well-rested in his attempt to notch a third win for both the season and his career.
He is quietly second on Tour in strokes gained: putting, and he opened his 2019 T29 effort (his only start here) with a 6-under 66.
World Rank: 24
Odds To Win: 28-1
11. Max Homa
It would be difficult to be more hit-or-miss than Homa has been this season. The winner of February’s Genesis Invitational, his last eight individual, stroke-play results have been six missed cuts and two T6s.
Homa also has posted top 10s this year at two of the Tour’s more difficult courses in Pebble Beach and Bay Hill. Which version of Max will we see this week? He has made it clear that he is tired of spending so much time on Twitter on the weekends lately.
The 30-year-old took this event off a year ago, after finishing T42 in 2019.
World Rank: 42
Odds To Win: 66-1
10. Joaquin Niemann
The 22-year-old Chilean sat out this event last year, but was tremendous in a T5 effort in 2019, where he shot four rounds in the 60s. With 20 cuts made in 21 starts this season, Niemann is a stone-cold lock to make it to the weekend.
He should be feeling good heading into the week after carding five birdies over his final ten holes at last week’s Travelers Championship, although a T36, which was mostly derailed by a Saturday 73, was his fourth consecutive result outside the top 30.
World Rank: 30
Odds To Win: 28-1
9. Jason Day
Sunday in Connecticut was disappointing, but it was great to see the former World No. 1 (currently 66th) contend again, as he shot a 62 on Friday – the lowest round by anyone for the week – to grab the 36-hole lead, and was just one back going into the final round.
The T10 came off the heels of three missed cuts and a T44. Looking for his first victory since 2018, Day is still long, and his short game is really rounding into form again; it just takes a little bit for these guys to learn how to win again. Getting into contention regularly is part of the process.
World Rank: 66
Odds To Win: 30-1
8. Kevin Kisner
Things are looking up for Kisner, who pulled himself out of an absolute tailspin at last week’s Travelers Champions. In his seven starts prior, he had five missed cuts, a T40 and a T55.
It would be more encouraging if his stellar T5 result at TPC River Highlands comprised four good rounds, but he should have gained confidence from the 7-under 63 he shot on both Friday and Sunday.
Additionally, Kisner closed with a 6-under 66 at last year’s Rocket Mortgage Classic on his way to a solo third-place finish.
His putting has been ridiculously good. That could prove the difference, as last year’s winner led the field in strokes gained: putting, while the previous year’s winner was solo second in that statistic.
World Rank: 48
Odds To Win: 33-1
7. Rickie Fowler
If Rickie appears more on the broadcast during the commercials this week, he will have done exceptionally. The face of Rocket Mortgage golf advertising, Fowler was finally showing some life in a disappointing season, following a T8 at the PGA Championship with a T11 at The Memorial Tournament, but then missed the cut by six strokes at last week’s Travelers Championship.
Granted, he came into this event a year ago on two missed cuts and shot bookend 67s to finish T12. Rickie will draw a lot of the spotlight this week, and the Tour would be better off if he does something positive with it.
World Rank: 95
Odds To Win: 50-1
6. Matthew Wolff
The 22-year-old has been almost comically inconsistent since a pair of runner-up finishes early last fall, and really his only great result since then in a T15 two weeks ago at the U.S. Open, where he contended for two days and then stumbled hard on the weekend.
That streaky play was well on display at Detroit Golf Club last year, where he was the 54-hole leader, lost his lead to Bryson DeChambeau, and then made a terrific rally late to fall just short.
Wolff is unlikely to put four rounds together, but if his bad stretches can be just sort of bad, his chances of contending here again will surge.
World Rank: 32
Odds To Win: 28-1
5. Webb Simpson
It feels like the world No. 15 has barely contended this season, but he has been statistically solid, with five top 10s among his 13 made cuts in 15 starts.
This might feel like a break in Detroit this week for Webb, as three of his last four starts have come in majors. That one non-major start was a T9 at the RBC Heritage in April.
Simpson held the 36-hole co-lead last year in this event before finishing T8, and it would be surprising if his elite short game does not get him on the first page of the leaderboard this week. He currently leads the Tour in scrambling.
World Rank: 15
Odds To Win: 16-1
4. Will Zalatoris
The standard he set in his last three major starts – T6-2-T8 – made his missed cut at the U.S. Open two weeks ago feel like a disappointment, but don’t forget that Zalatoris is a 24-year-old with fewer than 30 Tour starts under his belt, and just gained Tour status earlier this year.
This will be his first go at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, and with 13 top 25s (7 top 10s) in 21 starts this season, it would be a surprise if he doesn’t make some kind of run.
He currently ranks third on Tour in strokes gained: approach-the-green.
World Rank: 29
Odds To Win: 22-1
3. Hideki Matsuyama
Round-to-round, Hideki has been incredibly inconsistent, and that is especially true lately, as he is on a three-start streak with at least one round of 76 or worse.
It should be noted, though, that while he has failed to record a top 20 in four starts since winning The Masters, three of those four events were played at exceptionally difficult courses.
The first two editions of the Rocket Mortgage Classic had winning scores well in the 20-under range, meaning a return to red numbers. Matsuyama has gone T13-T21 in two starts at Detroit Golf Club, and with major championship confidence, it seems more than likely that he places much closer to the top of the leaderboard than the bottom of it.
His No. 18 world ranking is the fourth best in the field.
World Rank: 18
Odds To Win: 16-1
2. Patrick Reed
The world No. 9 has been quietly solid over the past few months, recording five top 25s in his last six starts, including a fifth-place finish at The Memorial, and a final-round 67 at the U.S. Open.
Reed ranks 35th or better in five of the six strokes gained: categories (and is still in the positive in the other), and was T5 at this event two years ago, carding 15 birdies on the weekend, and shooting a third-round 65, the second-best score in the Saturday field.
The fact that he leads the Tour in several putting statistics, including putts per round, is a good sign for his chances this week.
World Rank: 9
Odds To Win: 14-1
1. Bryson DeChambeau
DeChambeau’s comeback win at last year’s Rocket Mortgage Classic was his breakout win with his ultra-muscular physique. He also led the field in strokes gained: putting, proving himself to be more than a one-track star.
The World No. 6 has been in something of a funk, however, since finishing third at THE PLAYERS Championship in March, with a backdoor T9 being his only top 10 in his last eight starts, and he has struggled badly on his last two Sundays, particularly imploded after taking the Sunday lead midway through the final round of the U.S. Open.
Those betting on the man who leads the Tour in strokes gained: off-the-tee are hoping he isn’t looking ahead to “The Match” days after the Rocket Mortgage ends, where he and reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers take on Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady.
World Rank: 6
Odds To Win: 7-1
Next Five: Phil Mickelson, Mackenzie Hughes, Emiliano Grillo, Chez Reavie, Maverick McNealy