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Horse For The Course: PGA DFS - Rocket Mortgage Classic Course History

Welcome back PGA family and thanks for joining me here at RotoBaller! Do you guys remember a player by the name of Dustin Johnson? With all the excitement surrounding Rory, Bryson, and Brooks this season, DJ had kinda got lost in the shuffle a bit, but the former top-ranked player in the world reminded everyone that he is one of the most prolific winners of his generation by claiming his 21st career PGA Tour victory at the Travelers Championship.

DJ was a RotoBaller favorite last week, as both Spencer Aguiar and Tommy Bell loved him in their articles. Johnson proved them right by slaying a star-studded field at the Travelers, but for the first time since the PGA Tour resumed play, we will see a noticeable dropoff in the quality of this week's Rocket Mortgage Classic field. So, even though all of the game's top stars won't be heading to Detroit Golf Club, we still have a fun week of PGA DFS ahead of us. Let's dive in!

Horse For The Course is an article that highlights players in this week's field with elite course history and is part of our free PGA DFS content here at RotoBaller. For my favorite DFS plays of the week check out my Core Four article here at RotoBaller every Wednesday. It's part of our amazing PGA Premium package that includes an all-new PGA Research Station, Lineup Builder & Optimizer, and some of the best articles in the PGA DFS industry! You can sign up now using Promo Code: NICE for an extra discount at checkout!

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Rocket Mortgage Classic Overview

Since the PGA Tour resumed play over three weeks ago, we've seen stops at well-established tournaments that are played on classic layouts. This week's Rocket Mortgage Classic breaks that pattern, as this will be just the second edition of the event at Detroit Golf Club. The event will also break the trend of the large majority of the game's top players being in the field, as just two top-10 players will be in Detroit this week. We're presented with a couple of obstacles for this week's HFTC, as we only have one year of course history to build from and a tougher pricing scale than we've seen since play on the PGA Tour resumed.

Journeyman Nate Lashley lapped the rather pedestrian field that turned up for this tournament's debut last year with a score of 25-under par and he'll be back to defend his title against what can be considered an upgraded group of challengers that includes RBC Heritage champion Webb Simpson, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed, and Hideki Matsuyama.

You can also find out who the smart money is on by checking out Spencer Aguiar's PGA DFS: Vegas Report every week. And be sure to read all of our other top-notch weekly PGA DFS articles to help you win big!


The Course: Detroit Golf Club

Par 72 - 7,340 Yards, Greens: Bentgrass 

Before its PGA Tour debut last year, we were all basically guessing as to how this layout by legendary architect Donald Ross would play. The answer was...pretty darn easy, as the pros basically had no trouble at all with Detroit Golf Club, with eventual champion Nate Lashley finishing the week at 25-under par.

It might not be fair to call this layout "cookie cutter", but that's the impression that I walked away with after last year's Rocket Mortgage Classic, as the event basically turned into a John Deere Classic-like birdie fest. There are no secrets at DGC (other than a couple of sneaky OB areas)...score on the four Par-5s, strike your irons well, and make putts. As a result, I'll be targeting players this week that have strong approach games, great Par-5 scoring ability, and can rack up birdies in bunches. I never give much weight to putting stats, but I will at least glance at some Bentgrass numbers this week.



Recent Champions & Winning Scores

2019: Nate Lashley (-25)

2018: N/A

2017: N/A

2016: N/A

2015: N/A


The Horse

Viktor Hovland

DraftKings: $10,000
Notable Course History: T13 ('19)

The trio of Hovland/Wolff/Morikawa that burst onto the PGA Tour scene late last year continues to impress, with each already picking up a win. Hovland’s came earlier this year at the opposite field Puerto Rico event and the young man has continued to roll ever since.

Hovland has been a core DFS piece for me since the PGA Tour resumed play at Colonial, and he hasn’t disappointed, reeling off three top-25 finishes with Strokes Gained: Tee To Green counts of 5.7/6.1/10.6. 

The youngster led last week’s Travelers field in SG: T2G and was third in SG: Approach. As is often the case with Hovland, he was undone by a cold putter and lost over three strokes on the greens. I suppose it can be said about a number of great ball strikers, but it rings especially true with Hovland - if he makes some putts he will win tournaments. 

He was in the Rocket Mortgage field in its debut edition last year and notched a T13. The Oklahoma State product should absolutely feast on DGC’s four Par-5s this week and he’s currently striking the ball as well as any player on the PGA Tour.


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The Ponies

Rory Sabbatini

DraftKings: $8,800
Notable Course History: T3 ('19)

The “Boy From Bratislava” (shoutout Shotgun Start!) never really jumps off the page as a true “must play”. Sabbatini is kind of a remnant of days gone by on the PGA Tour - both in his wardrobe choices and style of play - but the veteran is still churning out solid performances.

Sabbs has posted two very respectable outings since the PGA Tour resumed play - a T14 at the Charles Schwab and a T21 last week - and he brings that solid form to this Donald Ross layout where he recorded a T3 in last year’s Rocket Mortgage. 

He doesn’t pop out as an explosive player, but Sabbatini should be able to hold his own on DGC’s Par-5s this week, as he ranks 24th in the field in SG: Par 5s over his last 50 rounds and stands a somewhat surprising 18th in Birdie Opportunities gained over the same time frame.


Doc Redman

DraftKings: $8,500
FanDuel: $10,000
Notable Course History: 2nd ('19)

Like Viktor Hovland, Doc is another Travelers holdover for me. His sharp ball striking performance at Hilton Head a couple of weeks ago (7.8 SG: Approach at Heritage) caught my eye as we headed into the Travelers. The young man out of Clemson didn’t disappoint, as he once again was scorching with his irons at TPC River Highlands, gaining 5.1 strokes on approach en route to a T11 finish in the deep field. 

Redman has been logging these types of solid results despite getting absolutely zero help from the flatstick. He’s LOST strokes on the greens in all three of his starts since the Tour resumed play. 

He scored an out-of-left-field runner-up finish in last year’s Rocket Mortgage as a Monday qualifier, so he does have what passes as “elite” course history in this event. Redman gained 4.7 strokes on DGC’s bentgrass greens last year, and our hope is that he’ll continue his elite-level ball striking while finding some measure of comfort on these greens. It’s understandable if you are experiencing some sticker shock with Redman this week - he jumped from $6.7k to $8.5k on DK - but he possesses the type of explosive upside that’s in short supply in this field.


Brandt Snedeker

DraftKings: $7,900
FanDuel: $9,700
Notable Course History: T5 ('19)

Like Paul Casey last week at TPC River Highlands, I'm listing Sneds here as more a tip of the cap to his course history than his current form. The Vandy product recorded a T5 in last year's Rocket Mortgage and has been dominant throughout his career on one of the other Donald Ross layouts on the PGA Tour schedule, Sedgefield, which hosts the Wyndham Championship each year.

We're certainly not rostering Sneds for his recent form, as he's struggled mightily since the Tour resumed play, losing strokes both T2G and on Approach in his two starts at the Heritage and Travelers. What we know is that he's been one of the top putters in the game consistently throughout his career - especially on bentgrass greens like he'll see this week - and we're always attempting to catch a good ball striking week out of him.

Snedeker actually lost strokes with his irons en route to his T5 here last year - so he can overcome more than most with his incredible short game - and we don't need him to all of a sudden become an elite ball striker in order to do well this week. He can seemingly pop up out of nowhere to post low scores and high finishes, which gives him a chance to pay huge dividends on his $7.9k price tag.

Brian Stuard

DraftKings: $7,400
FanDuel: $8,900
Notable Course History: T5 ('19)

Brian Stuard is a player that we will rarely have in DFS consideration, but the lack of depth in this field, coupled with tough DFS pricing, puts him squarely on my radar this week.

Stuard is a journeyman pro that’s grinding out a good living on the PGA Tour. He’ll have some weeks where he pops off, but a made cut is generally a nice result for him. Last year’s Rocket Mortgage was one of those instances where he posted a strong T5 and he heads back to Detroit with some solid form at the moment. 

He’s made all three cuts since the resumption of play and notched a T20 last week at the Travelers on the strength of 5.6 strokes gained T2G. He’s excellent at finding fairways and stands third in this field in Fairways Gained over his last 50 rounds. On a week where DFS value is somewhat tough to come by, Stuard is a solid mid-priced option that deserves consideration in GPP lineup builds. 


Kyle Stanley

DraftKings: $7,100
FanDuel: $9,000
Notable Course History: T21 ('19)

My DFS frustration with Kyle Stanley is longstanding and runs deep. He’s - at different points in his career - been a truly elite ball striker that’s easy to fall in love with statistically. The trouble with Stanley is that he makes Ben An look like Ben Crenshaw on the greens. His putting is bad...really, really bad. 

True to form, he was ninth in last week’s field in SG: T2G, only to record a T24 due to losing over a stroke with the putter. Stanley jumps out at me this week due to his price tag and the fact that he actually GAINED strokes putting at last year’s Rocket Mortgage...which gives me hope that he might be able to find something of a comfort level on them again this week. He’s always strictly a “GPP only” option for me - and his price especially sticks out on DK when compared to FanDuel - but this is a week where we’re probably not going to feel 100% comfortable with every player in every lineup. 

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