This article is part of our DraftKings PGA series.
ROCKET MORTGAGE CLASSIC
Winner's Share: $1.314M
FedEx Cup Points: 500 to the Winner
Course: Detroit Golf Club (North course)
Okay, let's begin this week with a little golf quiz: Who won the last PGA Tour event played in Michigan? ... Want a hint? It was in 2009. ... Give up? Let's see, in 2009, who was the best ... yes, it was Tiger Woods. Woods won the Buick Open for the third time, bringing great joy to his former car sponsor. After that, though, the venerable Tour stop that had been around for more than a half century came to an end. Now, the PGA Tour returns to the Motor City with the inaugural Rocket Mortgage Classic. It's the first of two straight new events in the Midwest, followed by next week's 3M Open in Minneapolis.
Organizers for both tournaments were hoping that Woods would use their venue for his in-between majors prep work, but as of now it appears Tiger will be idle from the U.S. Open until the Open Championship in three weeks. Woods is not in the field this week and has given no indication he will head to TPC Twin Cities. So, not only do fantasy players – and golf fans in general – miss out on seeing Woods, we are also saddled with planning for a completely new course plus a 156-man field that is not even remotely strong, world-rankings-wise. More on the field in a moment.
Detroit Golf Club has been around since 1899. Its two 18-hole tracks were completed in 1916, both built by famed architect Donald Ross. The longer of the two courses, the North, will be used exclusively this week, save for one hole from the South. They're also jumbling the usual order of the North, turning the eighth hole into No. 1. Interestingly, that's the hole Ross had made No. 1 when he drew it up more than 100 years ago. After that comes what normally is North No. 9, followed by South No. 1, and then the North largely in order from there beginning with No. 2. We have little information about the course's characteristics, though the club's website describes the North this way: "It features narrow, tree-lined fairways, which make club selection an important part of the round. The undulating greens and treacherous bunkering ensures you bring your a-game all the way up to the pin." We've been reading about the course and watching some YouTube videos. The fairways seem narrow but not that narrow, there are a lot of trees and there are some holes with strategically placed fairway bunkers. Quite frankly the course looks toughest on and around the green, with lots of bunkers guarding the holes and severe undulations are the smallish putting surfaces. We'll delve deeper with the key stats and Champions Profile below.
Now, for the field. Only one Top-10 golfer, Dustin Johnson, will tee it up, and for the first time in quite a while, we see a player come in at $12,000 in DraftKings. That speaks to the lack of strength in the field. There are only four other top-25 golfers and just 10 more in the top 50. Among them are U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland, Rocket Mortgage pitchman Rickie Fowler (perhaps you've seen his commercial once or eleventy billion times?), Hideki Matsuyama, Patrick Reed and Bubba Watson. But there's more. While the OWGR strength is lacking, the "Class of '19" that has emerged the past few weeks will again be well represented. That will be the case through the rest of the regular season. The biggest name in the bunch, Viktor Hovland, tees it up for third straight week, but he's starting to get a bit pricey at $8,400. He'll be joined again by former Oklahoma State teammate Matthew Wolff and also another ex-Cowboy, Zach Bauchou, who is making his pro debut. Justin Suh is also in the field, but Collin Morikawa is taking the week off after three straight weeks of action.
We saw Hovland play in two majors already this year, finishing as low amateur in both the Masters and U.S. Open. He got into those fields as the reigning U.S. Amateur champ. But now a pro, the young Norwegian will have to qualify for the upcoming Open Championship. He's in luck, as this tournament is part of the Open Qualifying Series. Two berths are there for the taking for players otherwise not exempt who finish in the top eight. No Open spots are on the line next week at the 3M Open, but there will be one more opportunity to qualify for Royal Portrush the week after – a top-5 at the John Deere Classic gets the job done.
Weather-wise, we are looking at mostly dry conditions until Friday, and then rain is in the forecast the rest of the way. Check the latest forecast and tee times before locking your lineup. Otherwise, there will be a typically steamy conditions for this time of year, with temperatures well into the 80s and humidity about 60 percent. The wind doesn't look like it will be much of a factor.
Key Stats to Winning at Detroit Golf Club
Note - The most important indicators every week are current form and course history. "Key stats" follow in importance.
• Greens in regulation/strokes gained: approach
• Putting average/strokes gained: putting/three-putt avoidance
• Scrambling/strokes gained: around the green/sand saves
• Driving accuracy/strokes gained: off the tee
We're keeping it simple until we know more about this course. When in doubt, go with golfers with strong tee-to-green games and/or a good short game. What we've seen of the greens is that they are hard to land on because they're so small, hard to stay on because of some run-offs and then they'll be hard to putt on because of all the undulations and levels. Plus, the greens will be running 12 to 12.5 on the stimpmeter. We are listing driving accuracy, but that definitely takes a back seat to the other three stats. We're even going to consider sand saves. The champion may very well come from the group of players who negotiate the greens best. And also, when looking to fill out your six-man lineup, a strong putter could be a good way to go when looking to get to the weekend.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)
Tier 1 Values
Dustin Johnson - $12,000 (Winning odds at golfodds.com: 6-1)
It's a ginormous price, but there's a reason for it: DraftKings is not at all impressed with the field. Johnson not only is a good pick for a daily fantasy six-man lineup, he's a good pick for your one-and-done pool if you haven't used him yet, because it's pointless to use him in a major. Johnson has struggled on the greens his last two starts but is a better putter than he receives credit for: he's ranked 27th on Tour in strokes gained: putting and is 15th in three-putt avoidance.
Rickie Fowler - $11,200 (10-1)
There's a lot of pressure on Mr. Rocket Mortgage himself this week. Fowler is the face of the sponsor, and the people who pay him want to see that face not only all four days, but late on Sunday, as well. He's been up to the task in the past, recording a runner-up, a tie for third and a solo 12th the past four years at the old Quicken Loans National (Rocket is part of Quicken). Even though Fowler won at Phoenix and has four other top-10s, he doesn't seem to be at his best this season, falling outside the top 10 in the world rankings. However, he's ranked top-50 in all six strokes-gained categories, including top-20 in putting and total. He's ranked 12th on Tour in three-putt avoidance.
Hideki Matsuyama - $10,200 (12-1)
We're steering clear of Gary Woodland, who is ahead of Matsuyama on the DK board, and Chez Reavie, who is below him. Both are coming off life-changing wins that are still changing their lives, and as such they also have inflated prices. Matsuyama has been good, never missing a cut in 16 starts this season with 11 top-25s. But you really need a top-10 or better at this price, and he has only four of them. Then again, he should do it in this field.
Ryan Moore - $9,500 (30-1)
Moore has been only so-so this season. But he's one of the best guys in the field (hence his price) and has the all-around game to succeed this week. Moore is ranked third in driving accuracy and 23rd in strokes gained: approach.
Tier 2 Values
Patrick Reed - $9,300 (30-1)
We believe that Reed is getting closer to being Reed again. He shot a final-round 68 at the U.S. Open, then opened the Travelers with two more rounds in the 60s. He just hasn't been able to string four good rounds together in a while.
Billy Horschel - $9,000 (30-1)
Horschel has been consistent, but not great, this season. He has missed only one cut in 20 starts, and has 10 top-25s, one of them at the PGA. He was T32 at the U.S. Open and tied for ninth at the Memorial. Horschel's iron play, the hallmark of his game, has been better of late. He's now inside the top 70 in strokes gained: approach, and he's top-20 in SG: putting.
Kevin Streelman - $8,600 (40-1)
Streelman is not a good putter, but he does everything else pretty well. He's ranked around 30th on Tour in four strokes-gained categories: off the tee, approach, tee to green and total. In this field, that's a hall of fame resume. Streelman missed a lot of cuts earlier this season, but has made his last six in stroke play, four of them being top-25s and three of them doubling as top-10s.
Rory Sabbatini - $8,500 (50-1)
Thee 43-year-old hasn't missed a cut since February, and he has four top-10s in the past two months. Sabbatini is not excelling in any one area, except maybe scrambling, where he ranks 17th). He's really doing it with all facets of his game.
Tier 3 Values
Jason Dufner - $8,000 (50-1)
Dufner is playing far better than earlier in the season. He's made four straight cuts, two of them top-10s, and also tied for 35th at the U.S. Open. He's ranked 20th on Tour in greens in regulation.
Vaughn Taylor - $7,600 (80-1)
Taylor is $900 pricier than he was last week, when he finished solo fourth at the Travelers. At 43, he's really having a fine season. He has six top-25s, half of them also being top-10s. As we noted last week, Taylor is an elite putter, currently ranked sixth in strokes gained: putting. We think that will be valuable this week.
Nick Watney - $7,600 (80-1)
Watney is having his typical okay-but-not-great season, currently sitting 97th in the FedExCup standings. He's turned in a top-10, a top-20 and a top-30 in the past month, with the T30 last week at the Travelers. Watney is ranked 31st in greens in regulation, a number that will play on any track.
Peter Malnati - $7,500 (125-1)
Perennial long-shot golfer Malnati jumps into the bottom of Tier 3 this week. That's attributable to the field and his recent play – he's made five straight cuts, including last week's tie for 30th at River Highlands. Malnati is another strong putter we're favoring this week. He's ranked 20th in SG: putting, but also a very-good 38th in SG: approach and an even-better 28th in scrambling.
Wyndham Clark - $7,100 (Field, 10-1)
You don't see guys being ranked in the top 10 in both driving distance strokes gained: putting every day, but Clark is that guy. He's also first on Tour in three-putt avoidance. A week ago, we wouldn't have gone this route, as Clark had missed four straight cuts entering the Travelers. But he tied for 15th at River Highlands. Clark is also a top-50 player in both strokes gained: around the green and sand saves. He'll have to straighten out his irons again this week to make it to Saturday.
Cameron Tringale - $7,000 (150-1)
Tringale has moved himself inside the top 125 in the standings (120th) with a good stretch of golf over the past four months. He's made 8-of-10 cuts, including three in a row coming in, two of them top-25s. Despite some accuracy issues off the tee, Tringale is ranked 39th on Tour in greens in regulation.
Sam Ryder - $6,600 (Field, 10-1)
Ryder missed more than a month with a wrist injury but has returned to play twice in June, making the cut at the Memorial and last week's Travelers. He traditionally is an accurate iron player and a decent putter. Despite the injury, those still ring true, as he's ranked 54th on Tour in strokes gained: approach and 30th in SG: putting. Ryder is also ranked sixth in sand saves.
Tom Hoge - $6,400 (Field, 10-1)
Hoge has been battling all season to make some headway in getting into the top-125. He's been making cuts – five of his past six – though he's still stuck at 169th. Needless to say, those haven't been high finishes. But at this price, what do you expect? Hoge is ranked 48th on Tour in strokes gained: approach but needs significant improvement in all other areas.