This week the PGA Tour makes its first stop in Michigan since the 2009 edition of the Buick Open.
A decade later the PGA Tour returns to the Great Lakes State with a new tournament on the schedule—the Rocket Mortgage Classic at the Detroit Golf Club.
Detroit Golf Club was designed by Donald Ross and the tournament will be played on the 7,334-yard North Course. Ross is no stranger to courses in the Detroit area, as he designed Oakland Hills Country Club, which sits about 15 miles away and has played host to the U.S. Open, PGA Championship and Ryder Cup.
Since Detroit Golf Club is new to the Tour, how the tournament will play out is a bit of a mystery. There will be a learning curve both for players and observers. One common feature of Ross greens is they tend to be turtle backed, or domed. This means your pitches and chips better be spot-on, or you’re coming back toward the hole from the other side. Whether they’re as severe in Detroit as at a place like the Ross-designed Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina remains to be seen, but chances are players will encounter this feature.
Despite being two weeks after the U.S. Open and three weeks prior to the Open Championship. the Rocket Mortgage has lured many in the FedEx Cup top 30, including U.S. Open winner Gary Woodland (fifth), Xander Schauffele (fourth), Dustin Johnson (seventh), Rickie Fowler (10th), last week’s winner Chez Reavie (12th), Charles Howell III (15th), Corey Conners (28th) and Keith Mitchell (30th).
For matchup wagers and a win bet, I’ll give a chance to Hideki Matsuyama (+1200). The 27-year-old from Japan has yet to win since the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone in 2017, but he has been knocking at the door for the bulk of the season.
Matsuyama ranks fourth on the Tour in strokes gained approaching the green, fifth in strokes gained tee to green and sixth in strokes gained total. He has four top 10 finishes this season and is one of the best ball strikers anywhere. All he needs is a cooperative putter, and the first Rocket Mortgage Classic can be his.
Another I’ll consider for wagering purposes is the consistent Brandt Snedeker (+3300). He captured last year’s Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, North Carolina. That event was played at Sedgefield Country Club, which is another Ross design. Though he’s not the longest hitter and can sometimes be wild off the tee, the fast-playing Snedeker generally ranks near the top of the Tour in putting. He’s also third on Tour in strokes gained around the green and sixth in total putting.
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