The Fourth of July weekend festivities are ready to kick off and the PGA Tour will join in on the fun as the Rocket Mortgage Classic goes down at Detroit Golf Club. Last year, this event turned out to be U.S. Open foreshadowing as Bryson DeChambeau held off Matthew Wolff for the victory, an outcome that would be repeated two months later at Winged Foot.
This time around, the U.S. Open will not be played for nearly another year, but there are plenty of golfers in this field getting in final prep work for the Open Championship at Royal St. George's, which starts in two weeks. With that event on deck for some in this field, and myriad other bounty (two-year exemption, Masters invite) available with a potential win for much of the rest of the field, the action at Detroit Golf Club this weekend should be strong (although potentially not as bizarre as last week's eight-hole playoff between Kramer Hickok and Harris English).
Let's take a closer look at this week's contest with odds provided via William Hill Sportsbook.
Event: Rocket Mortgage Classic | Dates: July 1-4
Location: Detroit Golf Club -- Detroit, Michigan
Par: 72 | Purse: $7.5 million
Three things to know
Breaking Bryson: Last time around, Bryson DeChambeau broke ShotLink with the way he drove the golf ball. The way the system is programmed literally could not properly read his data -- it was inputting drives as approach shots, which to be fair, they were in a lot of cases -- and that was the formula he used to win for the first time with his new-look physique. Maybe that was validation for what he had been doing, maybe not, but it's become clear over the last year that it works at nearly every course in the world. It would be surprising if, on a course he tattered in 2020, DeChambeau was not in the mix this year as well.
Simpson's surge: With the Ryder Cup conversation starting to heat up, Simpson might need to make a nice run over the back half of the summer to secure his spot on the U.S. team. He has not played all that much of late -- just three times since the Masters, including both majors -- which is partially due to his own personal scheduling but also partially to having to withdraw from the Wells Fargo Championship with a neck injury. He's somebody to keep an eye on for major and Ryder Cup purposes over the next six weeks.
Mickelson's last stand: Speaking of the Ryder Cup, it seems odd to say that Phil Mickelson needs to make a statement beyond his win at the PGA Championship, but … he kind of does. Lefty has a worse strokes-gained number over the last six months than Hank Lebioda and Matthias Schwab, and his only top-20 finish in his last 21 starts was that win at the PGA at Kiawah. That's probably not enough to get on the Ryder Cup team as it stands right now, but if he can pair it with some strong play over these last two months of qualifying, he could feasibly play his way onto the squad at Whistling Straits.
Grading the field
This is a good but not great field with 14 of the top 50 players in the world playing Detroit Golf Club this week. That includes big names with some real stakes, like Simpson, Mickelson, Matthew Wolff as well as guys like Will Zalatoris and Max Homa, who both could potentially play their way into the Ryder Cup conversation as well over this stretch run. Grade: B-
2021 Rocket Mortgage Classic picks
|Winner (14-1): Reed has been playing terrific golf for the last two months, is the second-best in this field since May 1 in strokes gained from tee to green and finished in the top five here just two years ago. Captain America (if we're still calling him that?) winning on July 4 with the Ryder Cup starting to come into focus would be very apropos.|
|Top 10 (-110): Interestingly, DeChambeau has just one top 10 (a backdoor T9 at the Wells Fargo) since the Players Championship in March. However, this is a course he's obliterated, and there's not really anyone else in this field I trust more (ex: I love Joaquin Niemann's game, but he has just one top 10 since the Hawaii swing). DeChambeau is the safest bet here.|
|Sleeper (100-1): Dahmen is on a good number and comes into this week fifth in the field in strokes gained tee to green over the last two months. He'll go about it very differently than DeChambeau, but I think he's a bit too far down this odds list from where he should be.|