Sobel’s Rocket Mortgage Classic Matchup Previews: Keep an Eye on Im, An and Wise

Sobel’s Rocket Mortgage Classic Matchup Previews: Keep an Eye on Im, An and Wise article feature image
Credit:

Rob Schumacher, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Byoeng-hun An

  • The 2019 Rocket Mortgage Classic is a new event that takes place at Detroit Golf Club, which has never hosted a PGA Tour event before.
  • Jason Sobel previews three matchups, including Aaron Wise vs. Bubba Watson.

This week’s inaugural Rocket Mortgage Classic is either going to be a week when the sharp minds seem even sharper or when we might as well throw a few precise darts.

With no previous course history, those who usually do a little research and make bets based on past leaderboards won’t have that luxury. So, we need to dig deeper.

Recent form is an obvious baseline. Ball-striking numbers should be important. And I happen to think there will be some correlation to past results on other Donald Ross courses, as I wrote in my pre-tournament preview.

It remains to be seen which one of those will be the key data point, but one thing is certain: If you’re searching for course history at Detroit Golf Club, you’re gonna be out of luck.

With that in mind, let’s get right to my favorite matchup bets for the week.

Sungjae Im (-110) over Kevin Kisner

I like Kisner. He’s playing well; he’s a solid ball-striker; he has a chance to contend this week. But after writing in my preview that Im is my favorite head-to-head play, it would be disingenuous for me to leave him off this list.

Just a few months ago, fellow players who’d competed alongside Im insisted he has a chance to be a top-10 player in the world by year’s end. He cooled off for a while there, but he’s since put together finishes of solo seventh and T-21 in his last two starts.

If the rookie is going to get his first victory, I can absolutely see it happening on a track where there’s a level playing field, with no other competitors owning a discernible advantage of experience. Expect another strong result for Im. He might need it in this matchup.

Aaron Wise (-110) over Bubba Watson

Another nod to the preview: I wrote that I’m on #TeamFadeBubba for the foreseeable future. Not sure what his issue might be, but when the three-time Travelers Championship winner is finishing well down the leaderboard at one of his favorite events, it’s clear there’s an issue.

For everything we love about Bubba – the ability to bend the ball in either direction; the homemade swing; the reluctance to ever use a swing coach – those characteristics make it harder for him to make technical fixes when he needs them.

As for Wise, the youngster about whom Brooks Koepka was raving before the U.S. Open, he’s underperformed this year, without a single top-10 finish in 15 total starts.

I’m banking on the law of averages taking over. He’s too talented to remain where he is – and as an added bonus, I like that he finished T-16 at last year’s BMW Championship at Aronomink, another Ross design.

Byeong-hun An (-115) over Viktor Hovland

Look, we all understand just how talented Hovland is. He’s going to be a star at some point – just probably not this week. The markets are clearly overreacting to his turns as low-amateur at both the Masters and U.S. Open. He’s the PGA Tour’s latest It Boy, the new, bright, shiny toy that everyone wants to play with.

But an even matchup with An, a proven veteran and solid ball-striker, is part of this overreaction. He missed the cut last week, but was T-16 and T-17 in his previous two starts, which suggests he’s still in some semblance of good form. I get that everyone wants to see Hovland take over the golf world immediately, but these things usually take a little time. Give me the proven commodity in this one.