Rocket Mortgage: Niemann in Prime Position

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Joaquin Niemann will head into the Fourth of July weekend as the betting favorite to win the Rocket Mortgage Classic. At PointsBet Sportsbook, Niemann, who was the favorite after Round 1, is listed at +400 with 36-holes to go. The young Chilean, who was red hot to begin the 2021 calendar year, has appeared to have found his early year form.

After near misses at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and the Sony Open in January, Niemann now finds himself in the mix once again. With 10 birdies against zero bogeys through the first two days, Niemann has used a balanced approach to get to 10-under. The 2019 winner at the Greenbrier will have to hold off a slew of pursuers if he plans to add win No. 2 to his mantle.

Those in the chasing pack include a trio of former Georgia Bulldogs. There must be something in the water in Athens, Georgia, as it seems like every weekend at least one alumnus has a chance to win. This weekend, that responsibility falls on the shoulders of Davis Thompson, Chris Kirk, and Kevin Kisner who are all inside the top-10 as it stands.

With scores not quite as low as some expected coming into the week, the cut-line settled at 3-under, one-stroke higher than the previous two years. Of the four pre-tournament favorites, only one will play the weekend. Patrick Reed made a couple clutch par saves on his final two holes to make the cut on the number.

Bryson DeChambeau and Webb Simpson weren’t as lucky. Both struggled on Thursday and Friday and were never able to get anything going. In the end, the duo finished at 1-under as neither took advantage of the scoring conditions that were presented at Detroit Golf Club. DeChambeau will look to quickly shake it off as he has a big match on the horizon, facing off against Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady with Aaron Rodgers by his side on July 6th.

With some of our Round 2 outright selections in the mix, we’ll forgo adding more until the final round. Matchup odds are yet to be posted on PointsBet, but these will be the players that I plan to target, depending if the opponent is ripe for the picking. Everything will be updated on my Twitter account either later tonight or early tomorrow morning as head-to-head matchups are listed.

Updated Odds to Win (Odds Via PointsBet):

+400: Joaquin Niemann

+900: Max Homa

+1100: Tom Lewis

+1200: Chris Kirk

+1400: Kevin Kisner

+1600: Troy Merritt

+2000: Matthew Wolff

+2500: Cameron Davis, Sungjae Im

+3000: Russell Knox

+3300: Jason Kokrak, Maverick McNealy, Pat Perez, Richy Werenski, Will Zalatoris

+3500: Davis Thompson

+4000: Seamus Power

+5000: Beau Hossler, Brandon Hagy, Hank Lebioda

Round 3 Targets:

Bubba Watson

Playing alongside Matthew Wolff and Max Homa the first two days, Watson held his own in Round 1. However, as Wolff and Homa ascended up the leaderboard on Friday, Watson did not. Coming off a disappointing Sunday back-nine at the Travelers Championship last week, Watson made the cut right on the number, thanks to birdies on two of his final four holes.

Ranking inside the top-25 in Stroke Gained: Tee-to-Green, Watson’s putter let him down on Friday. After gaining more than half a stroke on the greens in Round 1, Watson lost nearly three-strokes in Round 2. I’d expect Watson to bounce back with the flat stick in his third round and potentially get himself back in this tournament. At the very least, he makes for an attractive matchup option and is someone I will look to tomorrow.

Danny Willett

Much like Watson, Willett started strong on Thursday, carding a round of 4-under 68. Following it up with a round of 2-under 70, Willett struggled on the greens. Currently sitting inside the top-10 in SG: Tee-to-Green, Willett is only just inside the top-20 on the leaderboard. I would expect him to make some sort of move tomorrow as the pieces of his game appear to be there.

He’ll just need to clean up a few mistakes, primarily with the putter as he posted –2.25 SG: Putting on Friday. Not only that, but Willett must take advantage of the par-5's moving forward. Playing them in 1-over in Round 2, Willett left his fair share of strokes out there and will surely need to do better in Round 3.

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Rickie Fowler

Fowler’s day got off to a bit of a weird start. With Hideki Matsuyama testing positive for COVID-19 and withdrawing from the tournament, Fowler was left to play alongside Phil Mickelson by himself. That didn’t seem to bother the Rocket Mortgage ambassador as he turned in 4-under 32.

He couldn’t keep the momentum going as Fowler eventually carded a round of 3-under 69 to sit at 5-under for the tournament. While he did make plenty of long putts and even chipped in for an improbable birdie, I think Fowler is very close to something special. He’ll need to start capitalizing on the par-5 scoring opportunities, but at +10000, I think he’s an intriguing option down the odds board to add to your card if you're looking for a weekend filer.

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