Rocket Mortgage: Fowler to Get Back on Track

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The Rocket Mortgage Classic is set to tee off tomorrow morning in Detroit, Michigan. A relatively new venue, Detroit Golf Club will play host to the PGA Tour this week. The Donald Ross design has been known to reward different types of golfers, but bombers tend to carry a slight edge on this 7,400-yard course.

When sifting through the last two years of course history, players such as Bryson DeChambeau and Matthew Wolff immediately come to mind. They battled down the stretch in last year’s tournament, with DeChambeau eventually getting the better of the young gun. However, not too far behind them were precision players like Adam Hadwin, Ryan Armour, and Kevin Kisner, proving this course isn't just for big hitters.

Clearly there is more than one way to get the job done, but one thing is certain. You’re going to have to make birdies and you’re going to have to make plenty of them. With previous winning scores of 25-under and 23-under, players who do not take advantage of the gettable par-4's and the reachable par-5's run the risk of missing the weekend.

With the cutline being 4-under in both editions of this Motor City classic, one doesn’t have the luxury of stumbling out of the gate. There’s no easing your way into this tournament. It’s pedal to the metal from start to finish and hoping to just hold on for dear life.

Birdies being a necessity means bogeys are a big no-no. It’s a simple concept, but all that was said above combined with current form and strong tee-to-green numbers are what we will be targeting in our head-to-head matchups.

The oddsmakers at PointsBet Sportsbook have released numerous full-tournament head-to-head matchups ahead of the Rocket Mortgage Classic. While there are a few that have Charley Hoffman listed in them, be sure to avoid those as he has withdrawn from the tournament and the bet will be voided once the tournament begins.

Head-to-Head Matchups (Odds via PointsBet):

Brendon Todd (+106) over Si Woo Kim

I discussed in our first-round leader article just how much I like Todd this week at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. I figure if I like him on Thursday, who’s to say I don’t like him the rest of the week. Based on how he struck the ball last week in Cromwell, Connecticut, Todd has the potential of finding himself in contention by week’s end.

It’s not often that Todd loses strokes on the greens, but that’s exactly what he has done his last two outings. At the U.S. Open, he was only slightly negative in Strokes Gained: Putting, but at the Travelers he posted –1.8 in said category. The last time he had a similar putting performance, he bounced back by gaining more than four-strokes on the greens in his next start. I would expect something like that to happen this week as well and if the ball-striking travels from TPC River Highlands, Todd should have a say in this tournament.

Kim on the other hand missed the cut at the Travelers Championship, but was playing quite well before Connecticut. Strong finishes at the Memorial and the U.S. Open were put to an abrupt end last week. Kim struggled with not only his putting, as he typically does, but also his irons. While he does have past success on Sedgefield CC, another Donald Ross design, I’d rather take Todd who showed us a bit more last week and is at plus money.

Rickie Fowler (+110) over Keegan Bradley

My eyes are just drifting towards Fowler this week. While the ball-striking numbers weren’t really there last week, I tend to believe they are a bit misleading. Statistics never tell the full story without the proper context and that’s exactly what Fowler fell victim to at the Travelers. With a couple tee-shots going out of bounds and a couple wayward iron shots, the rest of Fowler’s week was completely dismissed.

There isn’t all that much trouble around Detroit GC and that should only play into Fowler’s hands. While he is a bit erratic off-the-tee at times, this could be a venue he could get away with it. If the putting holds up, I expect Fowler’s ball-striking numbers to be similar to those at the Memorial and the PGA Championship.

Bradley has never struck me as a player to go to in a shootout. When looking at his success this season, it has all come at more difficult venues such as Bay Hill, Innisbrook, Quail Hollow, and Kiawah Island. With such an unreliable short-game, if his ball-striking is off just a touch, I don’t see him being a factor, thus leaving the door open for Fowler.

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Max Homa (+135) over Kevin Kisner

I’m not sure Kisner should be this heavy of a favorite over anyone based on how he’s played this season. This is an overreaction from his top-5 last week at the Travelers Championship. He had a bit of a mixed bag in Connecticut, but by week’s end Kisner had gained seven-strokes on the greens. While he could easily post a similar figure at Detroit GC, I simply don’t have enough faith in his tee-to-green game.

Before the Travelers, Kisner had lost strokes tee-to-green in nine of his last 10 starts. The outlier here isn’t him striking it poorly, it’s him striking it well. There’s always the possibility he has turned the corner, but I’m going to need to see more out of him before backing him as such a heavy favorite.

Homa has slowly become one of the most volatile players on the PGA Tour. He will either miss the cut or seriously contend. Given his ball-striking, I reckon this will be one the weeks that he contends. He just needs to clean up his short-game and he should be back to the player he was at the Memorial and at the Valspar Championship.

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