PGA DFS Primer: Rocket Mortgage Classic (2021)
The Traveler’s Championship had a crowded leaderboard heading into its final round, but two young, up-and-coming Americans emerged down the stretch and battled it out in a captivating eight-hole playoff. Ultimately, 31-year old Harris English birdied Hole 18 to defeat 29-year old Kramer Hickok, whose first-round 7-under par kept him in contention throughout the weekend. Both competitors finished each round under par, with English saving his best for last by scoring a personal best 65 to finish -5 on Sunday.
Bubba Watson looked extremely confident, flooding lineups with birdies until imploding on the final round’s back-nine at TPC River Highlands. With a +3 on Sunday, Watson slipped to a T19 finish (-7). Other golfers that I liked who held strong during the Traveler’s Championship included Patrick Reed (T25/-6), Stewart Cink (T30/-5), and Chez Reavie (T25/-6). Meanwhile, Kevin Streelman and Scottie Scheffler both faded. Streelman missed the cut after firing a -3 in the first round; Scheffler, despite an exciting -5 performance in round two, finished T47. Overall, the majority of my recommended plays strung together quality performances that should have won you contests on either DFS site last week.
The PGA Tour returns to the Midwest this weekend for just the third Rocket Mortgage Classic at the Detroit Golf Club. Last year, Bryson DeChambeau dominated the field with his unmatched driving ability, along with a magnificent showing on the greens. However, I’m not confident rostering him in 2021, particularly since he’s the most expensive player on both DraftKings and FanDuel. Given his erratic play of late, DeChambeau doesn’t seem likely to repeat the putting clinic he put on during last year’s RMC. I’ve focused on a few players to prioritize getting into your lineups at the 2021 Rocket Mortgage Classic.
- 2020: Bryson DeChambeau (-23)
- 2019: Nate Lashley (-25)
Like TPC River Highlands, the Detroit Golf Club favors finesse and accuracy. It spans slightly longer, at 7,370 yards, but the par-72 also offers similar greens and rough growth, giving an advantage to golfers who previously competed in the Traveler’s Championship. Bentgrass and Poa annua greens create a favorable putting environment for less-skilled putters, while the four-inch bluegrass roughs will create plenty of headaches for players unable to navigate the tree-lined fairways successfully. While a decent amount of sand bunkers flank the fairways and bunkers at the Detroit Golf Club, water is scarce few. The most notable water hazard appears on Hole 14, a par 5 that stretches 559 yards with a false front on the left side of its green, forcing a two-shot approach over the water.
It’s an extremely balanced course in terms of the disparity of par per hole, with four par 3s and four par 5s. Half of these are concentrated in the back-nine, which will certainly affect the momentum players build during the front-nine, opening up with three consecutive Par 4 holes. As we’ve seen during the past couple of tournaments, weather can certainly be a factor with approach shots and off-the-tee swings. Thankfully, the forecast projects mid-70s temperatures with small chances of precipitation on Thursday and Saturday. Partly cloudy skies and cooler temperatures should help prevent errant shots out of the rough and yield fast putts on the greens.
Relevant Betting Stats
- Greens in Regulation (GIR)
- Driving Accuracy
- Strokes Gained: Putting
- Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green
- Birdie average
Recommended Plays: DraftKings
Matthew Wolff ($9,100)
One of the rising young players on the PGA Tour this season is Matthew Wolff. The 22-year-old Californian has two top-10 finishes and placed T15 (+1) at a difficult Torrey Pines South course during the U.S. Open. He can be acquired at a discounted salary going into the RMC after an atrocious +6 first round led to him missing the cut at the Traveler’s Championship. Wolff ranks 33rd in strokes gained approaching the green and hovers just outside of the top-50 for strokes gained putting. Most important when considering Wolff in your lineup is that he finished second at the 2020 RMC with a -20 performance, which many have forgotten due to DeChambeau’s awe-inspiring showing. This weekend, Wolff should produce at the Detroit Golf Club, making him a great value addition to your lineups.
Kevin Kisner ($8,500)
Kevin Kisner finished strong at TPC River Highlands, coming through with a T5 finish after a scorching hot -7 in the final round. The 37-year old South Carolina native is also coming off of a third-place finish (-18) at the 2020 RMC. His familiarity with the course, combined with the momentum gained from this past weekend, makes him one of my favorite players to feature in lineups at Detroit Golf Club. Kisner is a phenomenal putter and ranks 18th in driving accuracy percentage, meaning he should dominate all aspects of the course and compete for his third top-ten finish on the PGA Tour this season.
Joaquin Niemann ($9,800)
22-year old Chilean Joaquin Niemann is two years removed from a T5 finish ( -17) at the Rocket Mortgage Classic and has looked impressive in his fourth season on the PGA Tour. Niemann ranks highly in greens in regulation at 68.38 percent, while his average of 4.21 birdies per round ranks 16th on Tour. There isn’t much to dislike about his game, as Niemann also ranks 12th in strokes gained off-the-tee and 32nd in strokes gained putting. He does tend to struggle with control of his 312.5-yard average drives, which rank ninth on Tour but often tend to land in the rough or sand bunkers, especially on longer fairways. Since he is so skilled in strokes gained categories, I’m willing to invest in his talent and ability to generate birdies, which will generate solid production in lineups at the Detroit Golf club this weekend.
Recommended Plays: FanDuel
Webb Simpson ($11,700)
Webb Simpson struggled during the first two rounds of the U.S. Open, but in his defense, Torrey Pines South is intentionally designed to be extremely difficult. The 35-year old North Carolina native did not compete last weekend at TPC River Highlands, so he will be delighted to play a much less daunting course than the one he failed to make the cut on two weeks ago. At last year’s RMC, Simpson finished T8 (-15), highlighted by an -8 performance on the tournament’s second day. His ability to control the accuracy of his drives ranks 13th-best among all players on Tour, and when combined with an elite 68.16 GIR percentage, Simpson will be afforded ample opportunities to raise his 4.17 birdie average. He rates 19th in this category so far this season. Simpson is among the most expensive golfers to roster this weekend, but he is too good to pass up.
Bubba Watson ($10,600)
Most of us saw the meltdown Bubba Watson experienced on the last few holes at TPC River Highlands this past weekend. Some of you may recall that Watson missed the cut at the RMC in both 2019 and 2020. While these were surely disappointing outcomes, don’t forget about Watson’s four top-ten finishes on Tour this season or the fact that he is among the best in strokes gained off-the-tee and strokes gained tee-to-green. In short, don’t be discouraged. Watson is a solid upper-tier salary-saving option who will be looking to extend the momentum he’s generated during May and June.
Danny Willett ($8,900)
While none of his statistics are eye-popping, Danny Willett is an affordable option based on his T4 (-16) finish at the 2020 RMC. Familiarity with the course always breeds confidence. The 33-year old native of England last played at the Memorial Tournament earlier in June, where he finished T26 (E). Willett does maintain a relatively high birdie average of 3.74 per round while ranking 71st in sand save percentage. While he could defy the 125-1 odds to win at Detroit Golf Club this weekend, I like him as a cheap lineup option who will provide some points while allowing you to pay up for pricier blue-chip prospects such as Simpson, Kisner, and Niemann.
Whether you’re new to daily fantasy golf or a seasoned professional, be sure to check out our Daily Fantasy Golf Glossary. You can get started with The Stats That Matter Most or head to a more advanced strategy — like How To Use Vegas Odds To Generate Your Lineup — to learn more.