Rocket Mortgage Classic Round 4 Buys & Fades: Joaquin Niemann Poised for Second TOUR Win
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images. Pictured: Joaquin Niemann.
The fireworks started early at the Rocket Mortgage Classic on Saturday as players took advantage of great conditions throughout the day. There were birdies available around every turn as the field averaged 1.86 shots under par on the round.
Troy Merritt certainly had the biggest shot of the day as his hole-in-one on the Par 3 11th put him two shots ahead of the rest of the field in the third round. He would go on to close out the day with a 5-under 67 and go into the final round as a co-leader alongside Joaquin Niemann, who shot a 4-under round of his own.
Niemann has been the steadiest player in the field this week as he has gone bogey-free through 54 holes, and has had a share of the overnight lead the last two days. The Chilean will look to capture his second career TOUR win on Sunday and continue the upward trend of his young career.
The final pairing will hold just a one shot advantage over Hank Lebioda and Cameron Davis, who will tee off just ahead of them. Brandon Hagy is the only player at 12-under and two shots off the lead, just beyond a large group of six at 11-under on the week.
While it seems to be a bit of a two man race going into the final round, we know there are low scores available on this course which could bring a much larger group into the mix down the stretch on Sunday. Let’s take a look at the strokes gained data to find our winner, and a couple of longer shots that may be in position to go low.
Strokes Gained Explanation
Strokes Gained can give golf bettors, DFS players and fans way more detail on how a golfer is truly playing by measuring each shot in relation to the rest of the field.
Using the millions of data points it collects, the TOUR calculates how many shots on average it takes a player to get the ball in the hole from every distance and situation. If a player beats those averages, he’s gaining strokes on the field.
Every situation in golf is different — Strokes Gained measures how players perform relative to the situation.
In this piece, we’ll touch on a variety of Strokes Gained metrics…
- Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee
- Strokes Gained: Approach
- Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green
- Strokes Gained: Putting
- Strokes Gained: Ball-Striking (which is Off-the-Tee + Approach)
- Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green (which is Ball-Striking + Around-the-Green)
In general, ball-striking and tee-to-green are the most stable long term, while putting is more prone to volatility.
You can often find live-betting advantages by identifying golfers who are hitting the ball well, but just not getting putts to drop. Likewise, players with high SG: Putting numbers may regress moving forward.
3 Golfers to Buy in Round 4
The winner for me on Sunday is Joaquin Niemann, as much for what he hasn’t done yet this week as what he has accomplished. It’s certainly impressive to see him still bogey-free at this stage of the tournament, and a big part of that has been his putter, which ranks third in the field this week. Until recently, his putter was a big concern, and the ball striking was the part of his game we could rely on to be elite week in and week out.
This week, Niemann really hasn’t had his irons at any point. His best round on approach was on Thursday where he gained .95 shots on the field, but over the past two rounds he’s been merely field average. Niemann actually lost 0.03 strokes in that category on Saturday, which makes his positioning on the week even more impressive.
I’d be pretty surprised if we don’t see him find his irons on Sunday as he looks to close out his second TOUR win, and if he does it alongside the rest of his standard game this week, he may pull away. I’ll happily take him at +225 on DraftKings to close the deal on Sunday.
I’ve gone to the well with Jason Kokrak as a buy in back to back rounds, and I’ll do so again going into Sunday. The reality is if Kokrak had the putting game that has led him to be second on TOUR on the greens this season, he may be running away with this tournament.
He did finally gain a bit on the greens on Saturday at Detroit Golf Club, but it still wasn’t a strength in his game. Kokrak would be my pick to go really low and get in position to have a chance to steal this tournament in the final round. His tee to green play has been stellar all week, he just needs a few more putts to drop and he may be able to scare the leaders down the stretch.
The best number for Kokrak is at PointsBet, where he’s +1600.
Outside of a course record type of Sunday, there isn’t much hope for Keegan Bradley to win the Rocket Mortgage Classic, but he can certainly make some noise in DFS, matchups and for a high finish.
Bradley gained four shots on the field tee to green on Saturday as he climbed into a tie for 15th at 9-under. He was the ball striking machine we have come to know as he posted a 4-under 68 despite losing 1.23 shots on the greens. We know the putter will be the deciding factor in any given round for Keegan and on a Sunday where he will have little pressure from five shots back, he can be aggressive throughout the round to target a high finish.
3 Golfers to Fade in Round 4
I was on the fade train for Troy Merritt going into Saturday’s round and despite him proving me wrong then, I am going for it again on Sunday. His ace at the 11th really vaulted him firmly into the lead and the final pairing, but it will be a fairly unfamiliar position for him.
While he has had a couple of top-10 finishes, the pressure of the final pairing will be a totally different experience for a player looking for his first TOUR win since 2018. Merritt certainly has the ability to get it done, but I think he will have difficulty following up the low round from Saturday with the weight of the moment on his shoulders during the final round.
It’s always fun to see Pat Perez in the mix because he is such a fun personality and you never quite know what you’ll see from him on the course. He has certainly put together a solid week at Detroit Golf Club, but his lack of tee-to-green play has me concerned for his ability to stay in the mix on Sunday.
Perez lags behind all of the other players at the top of the leaderboard, having gained just over one shot on the field this week tee to green. He lost 0.67 in the category on Saturday, losing strokes to the field both off the tee and on approach. In a low-scoring event like this, I just don’t see him being able to sustain his position on the first page of the leaderboard unless he finds his ball striking quickly.
My final fade is one that was marginally successful from Saturday, but I think there is more to come on Sunday, as Tom Lewis continued to struggle on approach. He lost another 1.64 shots to the field with his irons in the third round, but still managed to post a 1-under round.
Lewis will certainly be looking for a high finish in the final round, but all of the signs point to him dipping further down the leaderboard, making for a great fade in DFS and matchups in the fourth round.