Subscribe to our newsletter
The best bets and resources to make you more profitable
Scott Piercy was up four strokes entering into the final round last week at the 3M Open before shooting a 76 on Sunday that allowed for Tony Finau to come from five strokes back to notch his third career PGA Tour victory. Finau became only the third player on the season to win a tournament as the consensus betting favorite.
Unfortunately, we chose to fade him even though he was the model’s top choice resulting in our worst week of the year on these pages — an embarrassing goose egg.
We will look to bounce back this week as the Tour heads from Minnesota to Michigan for the Rocket Mortgage Classic. This is a high-pressure event as it’s the penultimate PGA Tour event before the FedEx Cup playoffs start, so players who are on the cusp will need to perform well to retain their rankings. We will be looking to back those players this week when the analytics support them.
This week’s track is at Detroit Golf Club in Detroit, Michigan.
It is a Donald Ross-designed par-72 that measures out to 7,340 yards, making it one of the longer courses on Tour.
This year is the fourth iteration of the event and over the last three years, both long bombers and shorter, accurate drivers have had success here.
It is a relatively long course and the fairways are wide, so even though missing the fairway won’t be penal, those players who consistently hit the fairways will be at an advantage by allowing themselves to produce more controlled approaches.
Historically, the Rocket Mortgage classic has been a birdie-fest with the average winning score being -22. Last year’s 18-under was the first winning score that wasn’t 20-under or lower. For that reason, we will be targeting players who can compile birdies in bunches this week.
Players will need to have distance and accuracy off the tee to put themselves in position to set themselves up for makeable birdies this week. Fairways gained and greens in regulation have been two of the most predictive stats for success this week.
The course has eight par-4s and the historical birdie rate is 22 percent, so we will also be looking to back those players who rate highly in par-4 efficiency.
For those reasons, the key metrics that our model is using to compile our portfolio this week are: SG: Off-the-Tee, SG: Approach, greens in regulation, SG: Proximity 175-200 yards, birdie or better percentage, and SG: Par 4s.
Will Zalatoris has been a staple on these pages all season long, and although he has been a top-10 machine, he has yet to get his elusive first win on Tour. We think there is a very good chance that finally comes this week.
Zalatoris has 16 top-10 finishes in his short time on Tour, including three top 5s in his last six starts and a top-30 finish at The Open. It sounds cliche to say, but he is absolutely due and it’s a matter of when, not if, he finally breaks through for his first PGA Tour win.
He rates out very highly on the model, ranking first in strokes gained on the approach, second in greens in regulation, and sixth in birdies or better percentage.
The only flaw in his game is his sporadic putting which is problematic in a tournament that figures to be a birdie fest, but his elite approach game will put him in plenty of opportunistic situations.
Last year at the Rocket Mortgage Classic Zalatoris was six-under after two rounds but imploded over the weekend. Based on his current form, it’s very hard to see that repeating.
As long as he can putt at a rate that is on par with the field, he will be in one of the final groupings come Sunday.
As prefaced above, in order to have success at a course like Detroit Golf Club, putting is pivotal and Max Homa is one of the best putters on Tour.
He ranks sixth in strokes gained off-the-tee and on the approach and 14th in birdies or better gained. He is also the top player in the field in par-5 efficiency, which is an ancillary stat we are targeting this week.
Homa already has two wins on the season and doesn’t have any flaws in his game. If his putter cooperates like it usually does he will be in a great position to notch his third win of the season in Detroit.
Keegan Bradley is No. 10 on the odds board in terms of betting favorites but he is our model’s third-ranked golfer for this event.
He is one of the best ball strikers in the field, ranking seventh in strokes gained off-the-tee and sixth in strokes gained on the approach.
He is long and accurate off the tee and is an elite putter — exactly the key metrics we are targeting this week.
He also has shown great form this season with a T-2 at the Wells Fargo, T-7 at the U.S. Open, and a T-17 at the Travelers and finished T-20 here last year.
Bradley is right on the cusp on the FedEx rankings, sitting in 30th right now, so he should be fully motivated to retain that ranking to ensure he qualifies for the Tour Championship.
Chris Kirk has historically excelled on Donald Ross design — ranking No. 1 in the field in total strokes gained on Donald Ross courses making him a perfect player to buy on this week.
He checks every box as far as statistical categories we are targeting this week — 15th in strokes gained approach, 15th in par-4 efficiency, and he is the best in the field in strokes gained on approach from 50-125 yards which is going to be critical this week.
He hasn’t been in excellent form lately over his past two tournaments — failing to finish in the top 30 at the Scottish Open or The Open Championship — but before that he had a T-7 at the Canadian Open, T-15 at the Charles Schwab, and a T-5 at the PGA Championship.
Kirk has historically played well here, notching a T-12 and T-21 in his last two starts at Detroit Golf Club and we love him to notch another top-20 finish.
We expect him to contend and be right there Sunday, but even if he doesn’t win we love him to finish in the top 20 as our best bet of the week.
BEST BET: Chris Kirk Top 20 | +225 at FanDuel
Mark Hubbard was the model’s top-rated player last week at the 3M, but he withdrew at the last minute much to our chagrin.
This week the model loves him once again, ranking him third overall providing amazing value on his outright odds at +5000.
Hubbard has been one of the best under-the-radar best players on Tour lately, finishing T4, T3 and T13 in his last three starts while gaining 1.05 strokes per round on approach and 0.88 strokes putting over his last 20 rounds.
He is No. 3 in strokes gained approach, 13th in birdies or better gained, and 14th in greens in regulation.
He missed the cut at the Rocket Mortgage Classic last year but finished 12th in 2020. Given his current form, we project the latter is much more likely to repeat.
Hubbard finishing inside the top10 at +600 odds is amazing value and he is our dark horse to win this tournament.
I have to admit when I ran the model I was pretty shocked at who the No. 1 rated player was.
Even though the results haven’t necessarily been there, Russell Henley has the best overall stats for this course in the entire field.
He is the best iron player in the field and he ranks eighth in strokes gained off-the-tee, second in strokes gained on the approach, fourth in greens in regulation, fourth in birdies or better gained, and 14th in par-4 efficiency.
Even though he hasn’t been winning or even finishing in the top 30 consistently, he only missed two cuts since last year’s British Open so he is the epitome of consistency.
If his putter is anything but terrible he is poised for a top-20 finish, and if he can find his rhythm on the putting surface, he has a great chance to notch his fourth PGA Tour victory.
Will Zalatoris | +225 at BetMGM
Russell Henley | +500 at DraftKings
Mark Hubbard | +600 at FanDuel
Will Zalatoris | +120 at Bet365
Chris Kirk | +225 at FanDuel
Max Homa | +160 at Bet365
Russell Henley | +240 at DraftKings
Mark Hubbard | +270 at FanDuel
Nate Lashley | +600 at FanDuel