2021 Rocket Mortgage Classic Odds, Picks & Preview: Bryson DeChambeau Offers the Simplest Solution
Michael Reaves/Getty Images. Pictured: Bryson DeChambeau.
Bryson DeChambeau’s strategy works. It makes sense from an analytical perspective and has proven to pay off in realistic terms.
For those who have had their head buried in a greenside bunker for the past few years, this strategy is fairly simple: Tee it high, let it fly, and don’t worry too much about keeping it in the short stuff.
Purists of the game recoil in horror at such a notion, often contesting that the greatest counterattack to this idea is to limit the flight of the golf ball in order to suppress the advantage of long hitters like Bryson.
That’s a debate for another column. The point here is that this strategy works – and it works at some courses much better than others.
The Rocket Mortgage Classic was introduced to the PGA TOUR schedule two years ago. The first year, DeChambeau didn’t play. Last year, he won.
Bryson made the trip to Detroit Golf Club, a prestigious Donald Ross course, as the tournament favorite against a somewhat inferior field.
Prior to the opening round, when asked about the track, DeChambeau said, “We’re going to see what it produces for me. But again, being able to hit an 8-iron 195 yards is a pretty good asset, I’d say. So even though it limits my driving capabilities, my irons are going to be a lot shorter going into the greens no matter what club I have in, yardage I have in.”
Length is always an advantage, even if it’s not necessarily an advantage with the biggest club in the bag.
Of course, Bryson might not have been showing all his cards in that pre-tourney interview.
Just a few days later, following a three-stroke victory, he offered, “I heard that this was a bomber’s paradise. I knew that. That’s one of the things that was awesome.”
In the midst of that victory, he waited for the green to clear on a 399-yard par-4, apologized to the late Ross for carrying bunkers that were never supposed to be carried, and generally mashed and bashed his way all over the place.
So yeah, though Bryson’s strategy has evidentiary proof of being effective, it’s undoubtedly more effective on some courses than others.
This week’s host venue is one of ‘em.
Back at Detroit GC again, the defending champion is starting to trend in the right direction and owns a major advantage both in strategy and field strength. This one offers a more star-studded entry list than last year, but don’t be surprised if it still leads to a similar result.
Let’s get right to the picks – and my apologies for truncated analysis during a little summer vacation, but didn’t want to miss a week.
One player to win the tournament.
Bryson DeChambeau (+750)
As outlined above, Bryson owns a few sharp edges this week. Following the U.S. Open – during which pre-tourney favorite Jon Rahm won, of course – I joked in a column that this is why we should always hammer the favorite. The truth is, I’ll usually only list a favorite as my fave outright maybe once or twice each year, but this feels like another smart situation to chase a short number. Call this one the Occam’s Razor play – sometimes the simplest solution is the best solution.
Potential selections for one-and-done options.
Jason Day (+2800)
At times, the full J-Day was on display this past weekend, with back issues and hayfever and hints of elite-level play followed by signs of struggles. I’ll be honest and admit that I have no idea what to expect from Day next, but if you want to use a big-name player in your OAD this week without using the biggest-name players, then he’s certainly a viable option.
Kevin Kisner (+3300)
Rounds of 63 in the second and final rounds of the Travelers Championship suggest that Kisner’s game is perhaps moving back in the right direction. For a guy who’s seen some success at Ross course, including a solo third here last year, this should be a nice fit.
One player to finish top-five.
Joaquin Niemann (+400)
The youngster didn’t play poorly last week, but three scores of 68 or better were still only good enough for a middling result. He finished T-5 in his only start in Detroit two years ago and seems primed for a strong title contention soon.
One player to finish top-10.
Doc Redman (+450)
Runner-up at this event two years ago as a non-member, then co-FRL last year before finishing T-21, Redman is another personal favorite of mine who tends to excel as the summer months keep getting hotter.
One player to finish top-20.
Patrick Rodgers (+600)
In the top-30 on the list of driving distance leaders this season, I expect that length to help him this week. For a much-heralded former phenom who finished runner-up to Charles Howell III in a playoff three years ago, it might take a big week against a lesser field to propel him back into the public consciousness.
One player to finish top-30.
He just barely missed a top-10 finish last week, despite bookend 66s, but Straka is a guy whom I’ve had my eye on for a while now. He’s finished 8th-11th in two Rocket Mortgage starts so far. I don’t mind him for FRL, either.
One player to finish top-40.
I’m still advocating patience with Chappell, a former Presidents Cup player who’s dealt with injuries and is trying to mount a major comeback – not unlike Daniel Berger – but I do think he’ll start playing some solid golf soon, as potentially evidenced by a top-40 finish last week, his second on the PGA TOUR in his past five starts.
DFS Free Bingo Square
A safe plug-and-play option for DFS.
When last we saw – and bet – Kokrak, he was busy burning us at Torrey Pines, shooting 73-78 to miss the cut at the U.S. Open. I won’t hold that against the two-time winner, though, who’s otherwise been terrific this year and should be able to make birdies in bunches this week.
A lower-priced option for DFS.
There’s nothing sexy about Brian Stuard. (Sorry Mrs. Stuard, this is meant strictly from a betting/DFS perspective. Nothing personal.) Playing in his home state, though, he’s finished 30th-5th the past two years and is coming off a solid week in Connecticut.
One player to post the low score Thursday.
Cameron Tringale (+5000)
An opening-round 71 last week didn’t exactly help his brilliant season-long performance on Thursdays, but I still think Tringale is a FRL sweet spot – he offers a chance without being a favorite or complete longshot and there’s plenty of rationale behind taking him here.
One player who should beat comparable players.
He doesn’t get as much attention as Corey Conners and Keegan Bradley (or Emiliano Grillo and Byeong-hun An), but Stanley is the prototypical solid ball-striker who can post a strong result when he gets the putter even just a bit lukewarm. It was the same ol’ story last week in Connecticut, but a half-dozen consecutive made cuts make him attractive in H2H matchups.
The Big Fade
One top player to avoid at this tournament.
Webb Simpson (+1800)
Simply because of name recognition, Simpson could be a default play for some bettors, but I’m staying away until we have reason to do otherwise. Remember: He withdrew from his hometown event at Quail Hollow with a neck injury. Since then, he’s been T-30 at the PGA Championship and MC at the U.S. Open. There’s reason to believe he’s not 100 percent right now.