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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - Rocket Mortgage Classic

How's it going golf fans? I hope you all are having a prosperous PGA DFS season! Chez Reavie took down the Travelers last week for his first PGA Tour win in around a decade. It's easy to forget how long some of these journeyman-type players can grind between wins. We had seen some trending form from Reavie over the past couple of months, and despite having a solid week, I once again missed the boat on the actual winner of the tournament.


Rocket Mortgage Classic Overview

We go from a longstanding Tour event in the Travelers to the Rocket Mortgage Classic, an event that's making its debut on the PGA Tour schedule. Quicken Loans has been a long-time partner of the Tour and has sponsored an event in the D.C. area for years, but the new schedule gave Quicken a chance to host a tournament in its hometown of Detroit.

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The Rocket Mortgage has attracted a few headliners, with newly-crowned U.S. Open Champion Gary Woodland, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, and Hideki Matsuyama all scheduled to be in attendance, but it appears that the field takes a pretty sharp drop in quality after the handful of elite players at the top. The young gun duo of Viktor Hovland and Matt Wolff are in the field and will continue their quest to grab PGA Tour cards, with former major winners Patrick Reed and Bubba Watson also slated to tee it up.

In addition to the rather thin field, we are dealing with a golf course that we've never seen before. Detroit Golf Club was founded in 1899, but this will be its first-ever PGA Tour event, so we will have zero course history to draw from this week.

I'm not gonna lie ladies and gentlemen, this is a pretty tough week from a DFS perspective. A new golf course and a lackluster field aren't usually a recipe for success for those of us that normally feel like we have a bit of an advantage most weeks. Because we don't have any course history to evaluate, I'm throwing our usual format out the window this week and going with more of a "players I think I like in this spot" article. As always, thanks for reading! Let's talk about some golfers!

You can also find out who the smart money is on by checking out Spencer Aguiar's PGA DFS: Vegas Report every week.


The Course: Detroit Golf Club

Par 72 - 7,309 Yards, Greens:

We're getting a course we haven't seen before this week with Detroit Golf Club. Established in 1899 and opened for play in 1916, DGC is a two-course complex (North & South Courses) with both being Donald Ross designs. For this week's Rocket Mortgage players will face 17 holes from the North Course with one hole from the South Course being utilized. Unlike some of Ross' other legendary courses (Pinehurst No 2, Oakland Hills, Scioto, to name just a few), DGC has never really hit the big time and this will be the club's first PGA Tour event.

The course should place a premium on accuracy off the tee with its tree-lined fairways, bunkers - not to mention out-of-bounds on multiple holes - forcing players to be somewhat cautious with drives. If players find the fairways, they should be hitting mid-to-short irons into these greens that have Ross' signature undulations and back-to-front slope. I'm looking for strong iron players and solid tee-to-green profiles this week. Fairways and greens will be the order of the day for me.


The Horse

Hideki Matsuyama (DK - $10,200 & FD - $11,300)

Notable Course History: None Available
Recent Form: T21 (U.S. Open), 6th (Memorial), T16 (PGA), T23 (Wells Fargo)

Look, we all know that Dustin Johnson is looming large over this field like King Kong. You guys don't need me to tell you to play DJ, so let's take a look at the other 'elite' options available to us. Of the players priced above $10k on DraftKings - Rickie Fowler, Gary Woodland, & Hideki Matsuyama - 'Deki is without a doubt my favorite option...and it's not particularly close.

Fowler is sponsored by Rocket Mortgage and will undoubtedly be faced with tons of corporate obligations this week. Woodland is making his first start since winning the U.S. Open and has been on a week-long victory tour. That brings us to Matsuyama, who - while being a huge star and always dealing with tons of Japanese media - can fly relatively under the radar.

When dealing with a course that's completely unknown, you have to feel great about Matsuyama's tee-to-green ability. Over his last 24 rounds he ranks top-10 in all of the following Strokes Gained categories: Total, Tee to Green, Ball Striking, Approach, and Short Game. Not to mention that he's first in this field in DK points scored over his last six tournaments.

We all know that Hideki has had more than his share of struggles with the putter, but he's actually been steadily improving on the greens over the past couple of months, and has gained strokes putting in his each one of his last four starts.

I'm not normally a big feel player when it comes to DFS, but it really does feel like Hideki is due for a win. His ball striking stats are elite and his putting is trending in the right direction. If I go above $10k this week, I'm heading straight for Matsuyama.


The Ponies

Ryan Moore (DK - $9,500 & FD - $10,200)

Notable Course History: N/A
Recent Form: T15 (Travelers), T33 (Memorial), M/C (PGA), T69 (Byron Nelson)

Let's continue our little walk down #narrativestreet with Ryan Moore. Doesn't the Rocket Mortgage Classic just sound like a tournament that Ryan Moore would win? Don't worry, I'm not (totally) basing this selection on the name of the tournament, as Moore has actually demonstrated some really impressive ball striking over the last few months.

At last week's Travelers, Moore gained a strong 4.1 strokes on approach and seven strokes tee to green. He grades out sixth in this field in SG: Approach, but is consistently held back by his short game, as he stands just 80th in SG: Around the Green and 63rd in SG: Putting. While those numbers are a little scary, it is somewhat encouraging that Moore has done his best work on the Poa surface that he will find this week at DGC.

Am I crazy about paying $9.5k for Ryan Moore? No, not really. But we know the deal on week's like this, players all along the salary scale will receive price bumps due to the weakness of this field. I don't want to say that you have to ignore prices this week, but you will have to make some stands with players in this field.


Billy Horschel (DK - $9,000 & FD - $10,400)

Notable Course History: N/A
Recent Form:T32 (U.S. Open), T9 (Memorial), T19 (Charles Schwab), T23 (PGA)

I'll admit that I probably had a little too much Billy Horschel in my DFS lineups for the U.S. Open, but I'm going right back to the well this week. Billy Ho heads to Detroit with a solid run of recent form. He's gained strokes T2G in all four of his starts since the Masters (including two majors) and has two top-25s and a top-10 in that span.

Horschel has been super solid both off the tee and with his irons. Over his last five tournaments he's averaged gains of 2.2 both OTT and on Approach. Since we're sort of grasping at straws when it comes to course history/fit this week, let's grasp at some with Billy Boy. Horschel has logged four top-five finishes in the last calendar year. One of them came in last year's BMW Championship, which was held at Aronimink Golf Club...a Donald Ross layout; one of the others was in last year's Tour Championship, which is held at East Lake...a Donald Ross layout. This week's Rocket Mortgage is being played at Detroit Golf Club, you guessed it...a Donald Ross design. Is it a little thin? Maybe. But on a week where we don't have much to go on, it's something.

We've already touched on pricing this week. It's tough, but I would actually argue that Horschel is the most appropriately-priced player in the $9 to $10k price range on DK. If you want to take a more balanced approach to lineup construction this week, you can start your builds with Horschel and try to jam in as many solid options as possible.


Jason Dufner (DK - $8,000 & FD - $9,500)

Notable Course History: N/A
Recent Form: T35 (U.S. Open) T7 (Memorial), T40 (Charles Schwab), M/C (PGA)

Let's continue down the list of guys that just scream, "ROCKET MORTGAGE CLASSIC CHAMPION"! Jason Dufner has a major championship win to his credit, so I'm definitely not knocking him, but it's been a rough few years for the 'Duff Daddy'. It seems like his career has been a series of peaks and valleys to this point, and if the way the War Eagle is striking the ball lately is any indicator, he might just be headed back to the mountaintop.

Dufner has been putting on a clinic with his irons recently. He ranks 13th in the field in SG: Approach over his last 24 rounds and has gained strokes with his irons in five of his last six tournaments. He's also been very solid off the tee, ranking third in this field in both Fairways Gained & Good Drives Gained. Fairways and greens are a stat I'm very interested in this week on an unknown course, and we can feel confident that Dufner will find both with regularity. The trouble starts once my man reaches the green, as he ranks an abysmal 116th in the field in SG: Putting. That's...not very good.

At $8k in this field, I'm willing to take a flyer on Dufner's putter being decent this week. Some will frame it by saying that since these greens are unfamiliar to every player in the field, everyone's a little more equal this week. I don't know that I fully buy that argument, but I nonetheless like Dufner as a 'GPP-Only' play this week.


Peter Malnati (DK - $7,500 & FD - $8,500)

Notable Course History: N/A
Recent Form: T30 (Travelers), T31 (RBC Canadian Open), T17 (Memorial), T40 (Charles Schwab)

Let's drop down to what stands in for 'mid-range value' this week with a guy from my neck of the woods. Peter Malnati, of Jefferson County High School in East Tennessee, is in the midst of a very solid run of play. He's ran off four straight made cuts - and while his finishes haven't been spectacular - he's shown the ability to go low with rounds of 66 in each of his last two starts.

Malnati pops in this spot due to his sharp iron play. He's eighth in this week's field in SG: Approach over his last 24 rounds and has gained strokes with his irons in his last four starts (including a MASSIVE NINE STROKES at the Memorial). Malnati's not a bomber, but comes in at a solid 21st in SG: Par 5s and 28th in Birdies or Better Gained.

The strength of Malnati's game is his mid and short iron play, which is what he should have in his hands plenty this week. As I've mentioned several times, it's a thin week, so catching a guy that's a sharp iron player and is playing with a lot of confidence at this price is enough for me in GPPs.


Alex Prugh (DK - $7,000 & FD - $8,100)

Notable Course History: N/A
Recent Form: 20th (Travelers), T21 (U.S. Open), M/C (RBC Canadian), M/C (Byron Nelson)

Chances are if you are gonna squeeze Dustin Johnson into your lineup, you will need to dive down into this range. Let me tell you, the sub-$7k price range of the Rocket Mortgage is NOT a pretty place to be. That said, if you do wanna take a shot with some 'Stars & Scrubs' builds you could probably do worse than Alex Prugh.

We're trying to ride the heater with Prugh here. He's been hot in his last two starts, a T21 at the U.S. Open and a T20 last week at the Travelers. Prugh has gained 7.5 & 4.5 strokes tee to green in those respective starts and does offer some salary relief. Over his last 24 rounds he's a nifty fourth in the field in GIRs Gained and 11th in Good Drives Gained. Fairways and greens. At $7k. At the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Give Prugh a look if you need to dive down here.

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