The PGA Tour makes its first trip to Michigan in 10 years this week for the inaugural Rocket Mortgage Classic. The recently added event at Detroit Golf Club takes the place of the Quicken Loans National, which had been contested in the Washington DC area for the past seven years.
The 1916 Donald Ross-designed North Course at DGC was last in the spotlight during the 1992 U.S. Mid-Amateur, so course familiarity will be at a minimum this week for the players.
The field will feature 11 of the top 50 players I the world rankings and is highlighted by world No. 2 Dustin Johnson, who will be looking to rebound after a disappointing T35 at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. Speaking of the U.S. Open, Gary Woodland will tee it up for the first time since hoisting the trophy at Pebble, as will Chez Reavie, who will be looking to go back-to-back after a win last week at the Travelers Championship.
Detroit Golf Club will feature the traditional small, undulating greens that have made Donald Ross notorious.
Nuts and bolts
Course: Detroit Golf Club (7,340 yards, par 72)
Defending champion: New Event
Weather: Temperatures in the mid 80s. Chance of thunderstorms Thursday through Saturday
Dustin Johnson (5/1, $12,500)
More was expected out of DJ at the U.S. Open than his T-35, so the motivation to get back on track is certainly there. Johnson’s length off the tee should set up very manageable approach shots into the tricky Ross greens. He currently ranks 15th in strokes gained approaching the green and has had a great season with the flat stick, ranking 27th in strokes gained putting. DJ has also shown comfort on Donald Ross layouts, having won the 2011 Barclays at the Ross-designed Plainfield Country Club.
Hideki Matsuyama (11/1, $11,300)
In search of his first win since the 2017 Bridgestone, Matsuyama is trending upwards and appears ready to return to the winner circle. He’s reeled off four straight top 25s and 13 consecutive top 35 finishes. Can you say consistency? Along with his recent form, Hideki has thrived at Donald Ross tracks, finishing fourth at the 2018 Tour Championship at East Lake, 15th at the 2018 BMW at Aronimink, and T13 at the 2015 Barclays at Plainfield.
Chez Reavie (22/1, $10,900)
When a horse is hot, you ride him til' he bucks. Reavie is fresh off a dominating performance at the Travelers, but he’s really been playing exceptional golf for weeks now. He’s reeled off a stretch of five top 20s in his last six starts, including the win in Connecticut and a T3 at the U.S. Open. Statistically he ranks 18th in strokes gained approaching the green, 41st in scrambling and first in driving accuracy.
Kevin Kisner (45/1, $10,500)
Detroit Golf Club will call for precise putting, which means you have to give one of the top putters on Tour a look. Since winning the Dell Match Play back in March, Kisner has struggled in stroke-play events with his best finish a T21 at the Masters…until last week. Kiz's game appears to be rounding into form after a T15 at the Travelers. He hit 78% of his fairways and 72% of greens at TPC River Highlands and currently ranks 12th in total putting.
Beau Hossler (150/1, $8,500)
After bursting on to the PGA Tour out of the University of Texas a year ago, the expectations for Hossler were high. Since then he’s hit a sophomore slump, though he appears to be using his putter to find his way out of it. Beau put together back-to-back 69’s at the Travelers before a third round 73 sent him packing. He’s made five of his last six cuts and currently ranks eighth on Tour in strokes gained putting. He also showed well at the Ross-designed Aronimink last fall, finishing T33 at the BMW with four consecutive rounds in the 60’s.
Viktor Hovland (50/1, $10,000)
The reigning US Amateur champ and recently turned pro is now doubt going to be a consistent force on the PGA Tour, but the kid could be running low on fuel. After competing in the NCAA Championships for Oklahoma State, Viktor was the low amateur at the US Open (T12). He then turned pro, signed an equipment deal and teed it up at the Travelers (T54) with two rounds in the 70s. Just guessing here, but Hovland is in need of a week off. He hit just 68% GIR last week and was -6.61 in SG putting for the week.