2021 Rocket Mortgage Classic Picks: Our Best Outright Bets at Detroit Golf Club
Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR via Getty Images. Pictured: Joaquin Niemann
And just like that, we’re heading towards the stretch run of the 2020/21 PGA TOUR season.
This is just the third-ever Rocket Mortgage Classic and the two previous winners couldn’t have been more different. Last year’s winner, Bryson DeChambeau, was the pre-tournament favorite. But two years ago it was Nate Lashley, an alternate entry who didn’t even have pre-tournament odds, who lifted the trophy in Motor City.
What we’re trying to say is, this tournament is going to be pretty tough to forecast. That won’t stop us, though.
Check out our favorite outright bets for the 2021 Rocket Mortgage Classic:
Bryson DeChambeau (+775)
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.
Garrick Higgo (+5000)
Garrick Higgo has already shown he can take down one of these weaker field events, and he’s also capable of going super low as we saw during his run in Europe. He’s coming off a missed cut last week at the Travelers, but that was because he lost nearly four strokes around the green. He was above the field average with both ball-striking categories and putting in a stronger field than this one.
Bryson DeChambeau (+775)
This feels like one of those weeks where we get to the end, and wonder why we gave any consideration to anyone outside of the top man on the board, Bryson DeChambeau. There is a very apparent path to him simply running away with this event, and not looking back. Only one player, the prior version of Matthew Wolff, was able to hang with Bryson for most of the week at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in 2020, and even then he fell short by three strokes.
The course at Detroit Golf Club sets up really perfectly for Bryson as there are easy to hit fairways, but also little danger around the course to prevent him from swinging out of his shoes on every hole. He will look to do that again this week, and if he has his typically strong putter once again, it will be curtains for the rest of this fairly weak field. I’m not overthinking it this week, and simply putting most of my eggs in the DeChambeau basket.
Joaquin Niemann (+2500)
I strongly believe that Joaquin Niemann is going to start to pile up wins on the PGA TOUR, but I haven’t backed him in a long while because I didn’t love the course fits for him. That changes this week.
Detroit Golf Club is the perfect setup for “The Wonder Kid”. Niemann ranks no worse than 22nd in the field in all five of my most important statistical categories this week. He is extremely long off the tee and gained 14.7 strokes on the field at The Travelers Championship in Driving Distance: Gained. The wide open layout this week will allow the 22-year-old Chilean to let it rip off of the tee and should have easy approach shots into the green.
Niemann also ranks fifth in the field in Strokes Gained: Par 5. With four par 5’s at Detroit Golf Club and his power, he should be able to take real advantage of the birdie and eagle opportunities. Niemann’s biggest detractor of late has been his concerning around the green play. The green in regulation percentage at Detroit Golf Club is about 8% higher than the average PGA TOUR event. With his distance off the tee combined with the wide open layout I don’t anticipate around the green play being a major factor this week.
All signs point to Joaquin Niemann having a great chance to earn his second PGA TOUR victory at The Rocket Mortgage Classic.
Jason Kokrak (+3000)
Full disclosure I do believe Bryson DeChambeau is the most logical choice to win this week, however, he is about 7/1 at most sports books, making it difficult to back him considering how variant golf tournaments can be. Instead, we’ll look towards the only other two-time TOUR winner on the year teeing it up this week, Jason Kokrak.
Few things need to be said at this point. He ranks 13th on TOUR in par-five scoring (a critical statistic this week), 23rd in driving distance and No. 1 in SG: Putting (over his past 48 rounds.) The Ohio native also gained over two strokes per round tee-to-green on the field the last time he played this event back in 2019, where he finished T-29. Kokrak lost strokes putting that week, something that’s unlikely to happen again this week.
This field is not great by any stretch, so getting 30/1 on a two-time winner seems like fantastic value.