After an exciting, and drawn-out finish at The Travelers in Connecticut, the TOUR heads a bit west to Detroit for this week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic. This is a part of the season where we get a pit of a lull in the strength and quality of the tournament field as many top players prepare to head across the pond for The Open Championship in two weeks.
This week’s event will be headlined by defending champion and the No. 6 player in the world, Bryson DeChambeau. He comes into the Rocket Mortgage Classic as the low man on the odds leaderboard listed at just +750 across many sportsbooks. Part of the reason for that low number is the lack of firepower behind him as only Patrick Reed, Webb Simpson and Hideki Matsuyama are teeing it up this week from the Top 20 of the OWGR.
Last year, Bryson outlasted Matthew Wolff in what turned into a two-man race down the stretch with DeChambeau ultimately stretching to a three-shot win. He finished the week at 23-under, which was actually two strokes short of the number posted by 2019 champion Nate Lashley. This tournament has shown through two versions that it is a birdie fest, as there is little protection for this course as one of the shortest Par 72 courses on TOUR.
The biggest note on the course at Detroit Golf Club this year has little to do with any changes, but rather the weather they have received in the leadup to the event. The area has received more than five inches of rain coming into the week, which will make it a very soft golf course and may lead to even lower scoring than we’ve seen in the past. It should be a far cry from the grind we saw a couple of weeks ago at the U.S. Open as I expect to see the players tear up this course this week.
Detroit Golf Club – Detroit, MI
7,370 yard Par 72
- Four Par 5s (552/555/577/635)
- Four Par 3s (160/167/207/233)
- Ten Par 4s (372/393/393/397/425/446/453/455/461/489)
- Bentgrass/Poa Annua mixed greens, averaging 5,150 sq ft in size
- Same mix in fairways and on tees with 4″ ryegrass rough
- One water hazard in play on just one hole
- 87 sand bunkers
- Only change year over year is 30 added yards to the 12th hole
As you can see from the list of holes above, none of the Par 4s exceed 490 yards in length, making for a large number of shots coming from less than 150 yards into the greens. The players these days will have wedge in hand a ton this week at Detroit Golf Club, which is part of the reason for the low scores. Half of the Par 3s are in a similar distance range, while one is stretched out to 233 yards. That hole, the Par 3 11th, has played as the toughest hole on the course on average the last two years and is one of just a handful that has the field averaging above par during the event.
The least surprising stat of the week around the course is that the four Par 5s, are the four easiest holes on the course. The longest of the bunch yields “only” a 30% birdie rate, while each of the other three give up birdie or better more than 40% of the time. Each of those three holes have a greater than 2% eagle rate, showing just how reachable they are across many players in the field. The Par 5 17th is the easiest of the bunch at 577 yards, as it yields a birdie or better more than half of the time, leaving players that walk away with par falling behind. It will be imperative throughout the week to find players that will take advantage of these four holes, as anything short of 3-under on them during the round is likely losing strokes to a good portion of the field.
As players come down the stretch and look to score at the 17th, they will likely be looking to just make par and escape the 18th. The Par 4 is listed at 455 yards on the scorecard, and has played as the second most difficult hole on the course. If played well, it can give up some birdies, but it also has the highest bogey-or-worse rate around the track. This hole can create some drama on the final hole on Sunday afternoon as the leaders look to close out the win at the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
It’s a limited sample of just two tournaments at Detroit Golf Club, so we have to take the course horse moniker with a grain of salt this week. Many players in the field only played this event in one of the two years, like last year’s winner Bryson DeChambeau. Others, like 2019 champ Nate Lashley have extreme mixed results as he missed the cut last year, and 2020 runner-up Matthew Wolff missed the cut in 2019.
One player that does stand out with two solid results and is showing some form coming into the week, is Doc Redman. The Clemson alum finished second to Lashley in 2019 and backed it up with a T21 at last year’s event. Sepp Straka has also found success twice at this course as he finished T11 in 2019 and T8 in 2020, which are two of the best results of his entire career on TOUR.