The Rocket Mortgage Classic is set to take place at Detroit Golf Club, and it seems that low scores will once again be the order of the day. Last week, Keegan Bradley set the bar high with a score of 23 under at TPC River Highlands, surpassing the winning score proposition line by nearly six shots. With the average winning score at Detroit Golf Club standing at 23 under over the past editions, players will need a hot putter and the ability to generate birdies to stay competitive.
Weather conditions will play a crucial role in shaping the tournament. Last week's consistent moisture in Connecticut resulted in a soft and vulnerable golf course, favoring low scoring. Similarly, storms leading up to the Rocket Mortgage Classic have left the course wet, and scattered thundershowers are expected over the weekend. However, wind speeds are not expected to exceed 10 mph throughout the four days, setting the stage for another round of low scores. The winning score proposition line for this week is set at 263.5, equivalent to 24.5 under par. Defending champion Tony Finau even mentioned the possibility of reaching 30 under during his press conference.
Detroit Golf Club has gained a reputation as one of the more forgiving courses on the PGA TOUR schedule. As a par 72 Donald Ross design, it measures just under 7,400 yards and features flat, tree-lined fairways with moderately penal rough. However, for the First Round Leader, an opening-round 63 is usually a solid start. But considering the scoring trends in recent Rocket Mortgage Classics, it remains to be seen whether a 63 will be sufficient to lead the field on Thursday.
When it comes to predicting the First Round Leader, two key areas often prove decisive: Strokes Gained: Approach and Strokes Gained: Putting. This week, with a majority of approach shots falling within the 75-150 yard range, players who excel with wedges and short irons will have an advantage. However, putting can be an unpredictable skill, with players capable of going hot or cold for a round or two. For this week's selections, three players from the early wave tee times have caught our attention, as this has been a favorable trend in past Rocket Mortgage Classics.
Stephan Jaeger (+5500 at BetMGM Sportsbook) had a solid fifth-place finish last year, opening with a 67 and shooting a 65 on Saturday. He ranks well in Strokes Gained: Approach, Birdies or Better Gained, and Hole Proximity from 125-150 yards. While his putting may be a concern, he has shown flashes of brilliance with several strong opening rounds this year.
Chris Kirk (+5500) has a consistent track record at this event, with finishes of 17th, 12th, and 21st in previous editions. His strengths lie in SG Approach and SG: Putting (Poa/Bentgrass). Notably, he excels in short-iron and wedge play, ranking highly in Hole Proximity from various yardages. Kirk has consistently started strong at Detroit Golf Club, never opening with a round worse than 68 this season.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout (+6600) may not have a history of fast starts, but his approach and putting numbers make him an intriguing option. He ranks fifth in SG: Approach and seventh in SG: Putting (Poa/Bentgrass). His performance in Hole Proximity from 75-150 yards positions him in the upper tier of the field. Furthermore, his ability to avoid bogeys bodes well for this tournament.
In conclusion, the Rocket Mortgage Classic promises another birdie-filled week, with low scores expected at Detroit Golf