Sobel’s Round 4 Rocket Mortgage Classic Matchups: Wolff’s Lead More Sustainable Than You Think
Stacy Revere/Getty Images. Pictured: Matthew Wolff
Entering the final round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic, Matthew Wolff leads by three strokes at 19-under — and, well, I have a feeling I might know what you’re thinking:
A three-shot lead isn’t easily sustainable under any conditions, let alone when there’s such low scoring, a story we just watched a week ago, when Dustin Johnson ran down Brendon Todd at the Travelers Championship.
So, how’d I do? Did I hit on the main thesis of your internal debate?
The evidence suggests you’re wrong.
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Look, I’m not going to insist Wolff (currently +125) polishes this thing off on Sunday, especially considering his gaudy putting numbers through 54 holes. And I’m also not going to maintain that past performances in these situations are any sort of future indicator for what might take place.
In 13 previous instances on the PGA TOUR this season where at least 19-under won the tournament, it was the 54-hole leader (or co-leader) who parlayed that position into a victory 10 TIMES.
So, how should we interpret this information? What it tells us is that — for this season, at least — it’s been easier for players to convert 54-hole leads in tourneys that are birdie-fests as opposed to those where scoring is tougher in relation to par.
This should all be sweet music to Wolff’s ears, like the ice cream truck he kept hearing during Saturday’s third round which he said kept him calm throughout.
While it might feel like it’s easier for contenders to chase down a leader when scores are low, recent history shows that it’s only helped these leaders stiff-arm the rest of the competition.
Let’s get to three underdogs I like in head-to-head matchups for Sunday’s final round.
Round 4 Matchups
Troy Merritt (+285) over Bryson DeChambeau
Beefy Bryson looks like he could use a day off from pumping iron and pounding protein shakes. On Saturday, he seemed to jump between lethargic and antsy, at one point berating a cameraman for, well, pointing a camera at him during a temper tantrum, then later suggesting that such cameras should only feature the positive side of players’ demeanors.
With one round left in his four-week stretch off the lengthy break, it’s easy to see DeChambeau simply missing some shots, much like he did during last week’s final round. Merritt is a guy I bet live after the second round, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see him post a strong round — and I’ll take my chances at this number.
Seamus Power (+160) over Mark Hubbard
This feels like a pretty evenly matched pairing. Both players are in a share of fourth place at 14-under. They own similar statistical numbers across the board – both in their most recent round and for the entire week.
So, why am I going with Power here? Simple: Anytime two players seem this closely aligned, a price like +160 should feel like a bargain.
Seung-Yul Noh (+160) over Sungjae Im
This should be a comfortable pairing for each player — young, talented, Korean-born ball-strikers who ooze potential. While I rarely enjoy fading Im, his countryman has been riding a heater over the past few weeks and posted some strong tee-to-green numbers once again in the third round.
At such a big number, I like the chances for Noh to edge out Im in what could be a low pairing that finishes before the leaders even tee off.