2023 Rocket Mortgage Classic First Look: Picks for Justin Thomas, Hideki Matsuyama, Sepp Straka

2023 Rocket Mortgage Classic First Look: Picks for Justin Thomas, Hideki Matsuyama, Sepp Straka article feature image

Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images. Pictured: Justin Thomas.

Keegan Bradley stumbled a bit down the stretch, but he logged his sixth career win with a three-shot margin of victory on Sunday at the Travelers Championship.

The TOUR now heads to what has become an annual stop in Detroit for the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

This is one of the non-elevated events that will lead us into the final major of the season at The Open Championship in July, but this field is a bit stronger than most. Players like Collin Morikawa, Justin Thomas and Max Homa have joined defending champion Tony Finau in the field, making for a solid top end.

Detroit Golf Club has a reputation of playing favorably toward bombers. That is an angle I'll play to some extent, but we have also seen top finishes for shorter hitters like Nate Lashley. I'll be careful not to get too caught up in that bomber narrative as we may see another skillset rise to the top.

Below are the players who stand out to me as I look to build my card for the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

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Rocket Mortgage Classic Outright Picks

Justin Thomas +1500

Justin Thomas doesn't usually fit the mold for bomber tracks, but with the flash of form he showed last week at the Travelers, I will look to continue to ride him.

Thomas is an extremely streaky player in both directions. When he shows the game he had over the weekend in Connecticut, I want to ride along for a potential victory.

This will be his first trip to the Rocket Mortgage Classic, but we have seen success from debutants in the past. Really, this all just comes down to the fact that I am always looking to ride the hot hand when it comes to Thomas.

Hideki Matsuyama +2200

I've had to tread lightly around my love for Hideki Matsuyama — he burned me last year with withdrawals and poor play due to a lingering neck issue.

I feel a lot more comfortable now that he's shown flashes of form over the past few weeks. We are still waiting for him to put it all together for a complete week, but this may be the course he does just that.

Matsuyama is a player I like to back on courses that allow him to get away with sometimes errant play off the tee — that is what the course this week can provide. It has both one of the highest fairway hit percentages on TOUR as well as the longest average drive.

Matsuyama can take advantage of those trends, which allows him to get into position to attack with sharp iron play. He has done it before on this course, with two top-21 finishes in his only two appearances.

I'll look to back his familiarity and comfort at this track, alongside what I see as trending form.

Sepp Straka +6500

I was kicking the tires around a few names I think will be a little further down the board when odds open on Monday — Sepp Straka is the one who stood out.

He finished T38 at the Travelers after a missed cut at the U.S. Open, but there are some numbers within that stretch that have me intrigued.

Straka entered the third major of the year off solid finishes in which he was flashing great form on approach. He gained more than 10 shots on the field at the PGA Championship, but he's been inconsistent week in, week out during that stretch.

I like that Straka closed his week at the Travelers gaining more than two shots on the field with his ball striking and more than half of that coming on approach. Straka has been really consistent off the tee, gaining strokes on the field in six consecutive weeks.

If he can carry that play into the Rocket Mortgage, he has a chance to improve on the two top-12 finishes he posted in his first trips to the tournament.

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