2023 Rocket Mortgage Classic Preview: Everything To Know About Detroit Golf Club
The Rocket Mortgage Classic returns to Detroit Golf Club in a new position on the 2023 PGA TOUR schedule. Find bigger golf odds at the best sports betting sites to increase your potential payouts. Tony Finau, Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas and Collin Morikawa are the favorites for this year’s Rocket Mortgage Classic.
With a new shakeup to the PGA TOUR schedule, the Motor City is our next stop. A mini Midwest swing looms, as the 2023 Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club is next on tap. As always, our weekly preview will cover Rocket Mortgage Classic odds and a course breakdown.
Established in 1899, Detroit Golf Club has long history. But it is still very fresh to the PGA TOUR, with the Rocket Mortgage Classic added to the schedule on these grounds just four years ago.
In four years at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, we’ve seen dramatically different sets of leaderboards. It’s a great week to diversify exposure on a longer card and reach for some longshots in trending form. While a fair mix of bombers (DeChambeau, Davis, Finau) and plodders (Kisner, Spaun, Merritt) have found success here, it’s the longest hitters who possess the greatest scoring upside, as the bomb-and-gouge approach has proven effective with little penalty for wayward drives. Advantageous to those with plus-driving distance, I’ll be looking closely at skilled putters, particularly on Poa-hybrid greens, as well as elite wedge players and birdie-makers in easy scoring conditions.
Now, let’s run through the key facts and info about Detroit Golf Club ahead of the 2023 Rocket Mortgage Classic.
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ROCKET MORTGAGE CLASSIC ODDS: THE FAVORITES
Scroll to the bottom for complete outright odds. Here are the favorites with odds 15-1 or shorter below at market open Monday morning.
THE FIELD AT A GLANCE
The Rocket Mortgage Classic continues to be a revolving door with its place on the schedule since being added as a new PGA TOUR event in 2019. Played in late July last year, it’s now shifted up by a full month to a slightly more favorable position on the schedule in between the Travelers Championship and John Deere Classic.
Perhaps it’s that reshuffle that’s helped attract some star newcomers this time around, as Collin Morikawa and Justin Thomas are making the trip to Detroit for the first time. Max Homa is the lone OWGR top-10 player in the field, and we’ll see a total of eight OWGR top-30 players teeing it up at Detroit Golf Club, about on par with the strength of the 2022 field.
Tony Finau, Sungjae Im, Tom Kim, Hideki Matsuyama, and Rickie Fowler bring star power to this event as the presumptive favorites in this full field of 156. Without the powerhouses of Scheffler, Rahm, McIlroy, or Cantlay, this is the first tournament in months that truly feels wide open for longshots to contend.
Finau, alongside Cam Davis, Bryson DeChambeau and Nate Lashley are the first four winners in this event’s history; all but DeChambeau return to chase a repeat.
INTRODUCTION TO DETROIT GOLF CLUB
The course stands at 7,370 yards, but it plays on the shorter side by TOUR standards. It has produced equitable leaderboards of bombers and plodders.
A narrative to chase long-hitters upside grew last year and paid off handsomely. Finau, Cantlay, Pendrith, and Cameron Young were the top four finishers in 2022, and each ranked top-20 in driving distance leading in. Of the top-15 finishers, just two (Tom Kim, JJ Spaun) were outside the top-30 in Driving Distance for the week. In short, you don’t need distance to play well at Detroit Golf Club, but bombers do possess the greatest upside to generate the most birdie opportunities.
This course lacks bells and whistles. The classical design doesn’t feature the many water or lateral hazards. And although Detroit Golf Club is tree-lined, wider fairways make this less of a positional test than other parkland courses. With it’s lack of hazards, non-penal rough, and accessible back-to-front sloping greens, Detroit Golf Club may be the course most prone to the bomb-and-gouge approach on the PGA TOUR.
Given the wide fairways and options off the tee, I would describe Detroit Golf Club as a second-shot course. It’s boiled down to a putting contest each of the first four years. A premium on putting is consistent with Donald Ross designs. We see a similar theme on his other regular PGA TOUR tracks like East Lake and Sedgefield CC. While putting is the most volatile and difficult stat to predict, there is still a skill to putting consistently well. This week more than most, I’ll put a premium on the best long-term putters.
History has shown us this is not a course where poor putters have suddenly caught fire. So, I’ll take a stance and fade the worst putters in the field.
For Detroit GC course specs, hole-by-hole breakdown with yardages, and past Rocket Mortgage Classic winners with their pre-tournament odds, visit our Rocket Mortgage Classic odds page.Editor’s Note
COURSE HISTORY AND COURSE COMPS
Similar to the 3M Open, which also joined the PGA TOUR schedule in 2019, four years of data is still not a massive sample size to draw conclusive course history trends. That’s especially the case at Detroit Golf Club, considering the role the greens play. The first three winners (Nate Lashley, Bryson DeChambeau and Cam Davis) posted a combined 0-for-5 in made cuts at the Rocket Mortgage Classic outside of their respective wins. Finau finished T53 in his only prior appearance at this event.
I won’t fade any players on the basis of poor course history alone this week. It should create a great buy-low opportunity to catch drifted odds on longshots who either have poor past results or are making their tournament debut. Players like Harris English, Brendon Todd, Chez Reavie, and Will Gordon stand out as buy-low candidates who profile well leading into this event despite the poor prior history.
Just 10 players avoided missing the cut with at least three prior appearances at the Rocket Mortgage Classic: JJ Spaun, Chris Kirk, Sungjae Im, Scott Stallings, Henrik Norlander, Max Homa, Keegan Bradley, Patrick Rodgers, and Danny Willett. Spaun is the only one to have made the cut in all four prior Rocket Mortgage Classic contests.
There are 11 players who have recorded multiple top-25 finishes: JJ Spaun, Troy Merritt, Chris Kirk, Cam Davis, Sungjae Im, Matt Wallace, Scott Stallings, Sepp Straka, Doc Redman, Max Homa, and Cameron Champ.
Additional players who recorded a top-10 finish in a prior appearance at the Rocket Mortgage Classic include: Nate Lashley, Brian Stuard, Ryan Armour, Hank Lebioda, Webb Simpson, Tony Finau, Taylor Pendrith, Doc Redman, Taylor Moore, Tom Kim, Stephan Jaeger, Brandt Snedeker, Alex Noren, and Adam Hadwin.
The top 10 players in total stokes gained at Detroit Golf Club over its first four contests are: JJ Spaun, Troy Merritt, Tony Finau, Chris Kirk, Nate Lashley, Cam Davis, Sungjae Im, Matt Wallace, Scott Stallings, and Taylor Pendrith.
TPC Twin Cities stands out as the clear top comp to Detroit. Both events produced a top two of Bryson DeChambeau and Matthew Wolff in their inaugural year. Both feature similar length on the scorecard with ample birdie opportunities and similar Bentgrass agronomy. They’re also are advantageous to bombers and, of course, both were taken down by Tony Finau in successive weeks in 2022.
The absence of lateral hazards and emphasis on putting at Detroit GC is the glaring difference between the two. Bombers can get away with swinging a bit more freely here, as long as they avoid being blocked out by the tree lines. Ten players rank top-30 in SG: TOT at both venues: Sungjae Im, Tony Finau, Adam Hadwin, Callum Tarren, Cam Davis, Alex Noren, Hideki Matsuyama, Brandt Snedeker, Max Homa, and Troy Merritt.
Sedgefield CC is also very high on the list of comps. It has the Donald Ross connection, emphasis on wedges and putting, and overlapping success from players like Kevin Kisner and Webb Simpson. I’ll also give a close look at performance on other comps like Silverado Resort, TPC Deere Run, TPC River Highlands, TPC Craig Ranch, and Oakdale Golf & Country Club, given the similar Bent/Poa-blended agronomy and easy scoring conditions in open, “putting contest” set-ups.
From a Donald Ross standpoint, East Lake and Oak Hill – host of the 2023 PGA Championship – may serve as a useful comp if only for the consistent style of greens. Given the disparity in scoring difficulty at these events, however, I won’t be modeling from strokes gained on these courses.
Combine performance across this list and the top 10 players in Comp Course History here are: Sungjae Im, Tony Finau, Cam Davis, Tom Kim, Max Homa, Harris English, Mark Hubbard, Justin Thomas, CT Pan, and Alex Noren.
KEY STATS TO CONSIDER WITH ROCKET MORTGAGE CLASSIC ODDS
- SG: OTT / Driving Distance
- SG: APP
- Good Drives Gained
- SG: Putting (L36) / SG: P (Poa) / SG: P (5-10 ft)
- Birdies or Better Gained / Opportunities Gained
- Prox 75-150 Yards
- Par-5 Scoring
- Par-4 Scoring: <400 Yards
- SG: TOT (Easy Courses)
- Course & Comp Course History
Ball striking form has not correlated very well with results at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Prior winners of Nate Lashley, Bryson DeChambeau, Cam Davis, and Tony Finau should tell us that truly anything can happen at this event. But if there’s one trend emerging from the first four years of this event, it’s an advantage for the pure bombers who wedge their way in to these accessible greens. Among the players who are above average to the field in SG: TOT leading into this week, the top-10 in Driving Distance are: Byeong Hun An, Joseph Bramlett, Vincent Norrman, Will Gordon, Jimmy Walker, Ludvig Aberg, Sam Stevens, Kevin Yu, Garrick Higgo, and SH Kim.
While ample randomness exists this week, SG: APP remains a logical place to start in any birdie fest. With a unique layout producing 40% of approaches inside 150 yards, I’m looking to hone in on the top iron players with an emphasis on shorter distance. The top 10 in SG: APP who also rank above-average in Prox: 75-150 include: Collin Morikawa, Tony Finau, Max Homa, Hideki Matsuyama, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Nate Lashley, Tom Kim, Davis Riley, Satoshi Kodaira, and Tom Hoge.
Putting And Good Drives
SG: OTT has not proven to be very predictive of success in this event, given how accessible these greens still are from the rough. At an event where Kevin Kisner, JJ Spaun, and Troy Merritt have enjoyed similar success as Taylor Pendrith, Bryson DeChambeau and Tony Finau, Good Drives Gained has acted as a useful combo stat to measure those who position themselves well to reach greens in regulation regardless of distance. The top 10 in Good Drives Gained this week are: Collin Morikawa, Matthew NeSmith, Harris English, Kevin Yu, Lucas Glover, Tyler Duncan, Ben Martin, Austin Eckroat, Ryan Armour, and Aaron Rai.
As a pure example of a PGA TOUR putting contest, I’ll hone in on the most well-rounded putters in this week’s field. At Detroit Golf Club, total (L36 rounds), Bent-Poa blend, and Donald Ross putting have proven fairly predictive leading in. Additionally, with greens reached in regulation well above the TOUR average, conversion in the 5- to 10-foot range has proven a significant indicator. Weighting these characteristics together, the top-10 includes Justin Suh, Harris English, Max Homa, Sam Ryder, Seung-yul Noh, Luke Donald, Chad Ramey, Ben Taylor, Taylor Moore, and Andrew Novak.
As a basis for success this week, I’m looking for players above average in all key putting categories, as well as Prox: <150 and Birdies or Better Gained. Only five players in the field fit that criteria: Max Homa, Sungjae Im, Nate Lashley, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, and Ben Martin.
Looking more broadly at key all-encompassing stats of Comp Course History, SG: APP, Driving Distance, Par-5 Scoring, and Par-4: 350-400 just 10 players rate above average in each: Tony Finau, Max Homa, Taylor Moore, Justin Thomas, Keegan Bradley, Byeong Hun An, Austin Eckroat, Cam Davis, Alex Smalley, and Harris English.
Looking at the correlation charts this week, we have limited data from the four years of this event. But what we have has started to tell a more cohesive story. Par-3 Scoring and SG: OTT see a notable decline in importance compared to TOUR average, each falling outside the top 15. At Detroit Golf Club, the correlations charts continue to tell the same story as the names on the leaderboards. SG: P, particularly on putts from 5–10 feet, continues to be the greatest indicator of success.
Only 10 players in the field rank above average in each of the above 10 key stat categories: Max Homa, Rickie Fowler, Keegan Bradley, Brandon Wu, Andrew Putnam, Carson Young, Adam Schenk, Chez Reavie, Andrew Novak, and…Harris English.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: HARRIS ENGLISH
A resurgent 2023 season continues for Harris English, who’s steadily improved since returning from his torn labrum surgery in early 2022. Prior to the surgery, English peaked as an OWGR top-10 player and selection for the 2021 Ryder Cup.
That may seem like a long time ago, but if we look past the back half of the 2022 season immediately following the surgery, the signs of a return have been trending. He’s quietly piled up six top-12 finishes this season, three of which come over his last five starts. The putter has always been the strength of English’s game, and that’s a club that has proven to be the difference maker at the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
A T55 and MC in two prior Rocket Mortgage Classic should only help elicit longer betting odds for English. Considering how significant putting performance is in dictating success at this event, and the lack of preceding results past winners have shown prior to their wins, this is an ideal buy-low spot for English. Over the last two years, English posted five top-20 finishes on comp courses between Colonial CC, TPC River Highlands, Silverado Resort, and TPC Craig Ranch, ranking sixth in the field in Comp Course History.
At an expected discount price, English’s fit for a birdie fest and proven performance on similar comp courses suggests he is due for a breakout performance in Detroit this week.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR AT THE 2023 ROCKET MORTGAGE CLASSIC
A putting contest lies in store, which means we should expect less of an advantage for the elite ball strikers at the top of the prices/odds. The Travelers Championship set the tone for more birdie-fests to come, as there have been few pure birdie-fests since the start of the season. It’s a good time to buy low on birdie-makers who may have peaked in the easier fall swing. Detroit has been known to bring it for these events, so we should actually have a fun tournament in store, even if it lacks the depth we’ve come accustomed to seeing in previous weeks.
With all the course-fit profiles in mind, I’m leaning early towards the below player pool. Naturally, I’m looking their way in the 2023 Rocket Mortgage Classic odds as well. I’ve broken the list down by projected pricing/odds tier for DraftKings.
2023 Rocket Mortgage Classic Model Breakdown
In my model, I’m emphasizing SG: APP, SG: OTT, Comp Course History, SG: TOT (Easy Scoring Conditions), Prox: 75-150, and SG: P (TOT + Poa), followed by a more balanced mix of Par-5 Scoring, Birdies or Better Gained, Good Drives Gained, P4: 350-400 and P4: 450-500.
Defending champion and presumptive favorite to repeat, Tony Finau claims the top overall spot in my model this week, separating from the field with his consistency on comp easy scoring conditions. Finau ranks No. 1 in SG: T2G over the last 36 rounds and No. 1 in Course History with a win and T53 in two prior appearances at the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
After Finau, the rest of my model’s top 10 is rounded out by: Max Homa, Sungjae Im, Hideki Matsuyama, Taylor Moore, Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas, Tom Kim, Collin Morikawa, and Keegan Bradley.
When 2023 Rocket Mortgage Classic odds release Monday, I’ll look to target Sungjae Im, Max Homa, and Harris English as my first looks, depending on where the odds ultimately fall.
Check back in later this week for more updates, and best of luck navigating the 2023 Rocket Mortgage Classic odds!
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COMPARE 2023 ROCKET MORTGAGE CLASSIC ODDS
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