Rocket Mortgage Classic Preview, Picks & Analysis
BRYSON DeCHAMBEAU won the Rocket Mortgage Classic last year with an astonishing display of big hitting in Detroit. With a series of jaw-dropping drives and some clutch putts, he won by three strokes for his first victory of the season and sixth overall.
The American shot a seven-under 65 at Detroit Golf Club, with four birdies in his first seven holes before closing the deal with three straight birdies. It saw him finish the tournament with a career-best total od 265, an astonishing 23 under par.
Matthew Wolff, who began the day with a three-shot lead, finished second after a 71. His hopes of victory came crashing down around his ears when he picked up five bogeys in his first 10 holes. Kevin Kisner, who closed with a 66, was a shot further back in third place.
DeChambeau removed all doubt with a strong finish. He made a 30-foot birdie putt at the 16th, holed a short putt for birdie on the next hole and unleashed a 367-yard drive to set up another short putt at 18.
DeChambeau came into the week with six straight top-eight finishes and was the only player with top 10s in the first three events after the restart caused by the pandemic. It was his first success since the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in November 2018.
It was vindication for the frantic body transformation DeChambeau had undergone, adding 40lb of muscle mass, and took advantage of the time he had to work on his physique during the pandemic. His power was on full display in Detroit as he routinely smashed the ball 350 yards from the tee. Later in the year he would adopt the same approach to win the US Open at Winged Foot.
And DeChambeau will be back to defend his title, looking to put his disappointment at the US Open behind him. Yet again, he opted to attempt to overpower Torrey Pines. For the large part it worked, but he came to grief in the final round, finding some dreadful lies that ended his chances.
But he he is nothing if not resilient and insists that he has no intention of changing his approach. The course in Detroit suits his game because it is fairly open and there is little punishing rough so don’t be too surprised to see him bring the place to its knees again. This is the third playing of the tournament and it has attracted a top field. Keep an eye on Bubba Watson, a 12-time winner on the PGA Tour who has been showing some promising form of late. And it is also a course that just might suit PGA champion Phil Mickelson who, at the age of 51, continues to compete on the PGA Tour as he attempts to convince US Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker that he is worth a place in the team to tackle Europe on September.
Former world number one Jason Day has tumbled down the world rankings as he has battled with a series of debilitating injuries. The former PGA champion says he is now fully fit but he is now ranked 66th in the world and his recent form has been pretty poor. But he remains a magnificent ball striker. Hideki Matsuyama’s form since winning The Masters has been pretty indifferent. When you consider how his life has changed since becoming there first Japanese male to win a major, it is no surprise that he has perhaps lost some of his focus. But Matsuyama is a grounded individual and he will be desperate to get back into the winner’s circle again - and soon.
DeChambeau has missed just one cut all season. He won the US Open in September and the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March. He was third at the Players Championship and has enjoyed six top-10 finishes. And he had a great chance to successfully defend his US Open title before coming to grief in the final round. There was a perception that Hideki Matuyama’s Masters victory came from nowhere, but he was second at the Houston Open and has nine top-25 finishes this season. Patrick Reed has missed four cuts but on the credit side he won the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines and his form in the majors has been impressive - he was joint eighth at The Masters, tied for 17th at the US PGA and was joint 19th at the US Open. In total, he has enjoyed six top 10 and 12 top 25 finishes this season - and that is impressive form in anybody’s book.
It was won in 2019 by Nate Lashley and last year by DeChambeau.
The North Course at Detroit was designed by the legendary Donald Ross. It is tree-lined and features large, undulating greens. The rough is sparse and the putting surfaces are soft, which means that we will see plenty of birdies. It measures just 6,936 yards.
Bryson DeChambeau. Difficult to ignore
Hideki Matsuyama. Masters champion back to his very best
Patrick Reed. As feisty a competitor as there is in the game
Five to Follow:
Bryson DeChambeau. Confident of a repeat victory
Hideki Matsuyama. Has very few weaknesses
Patrick Reed. Looking to secure his Ryder Cup berth
Cameron Champ. Hits the ball a country mile
Sungjae Im. The PGA Tour’s machine
Rickie Fowler. Is finally starting to turn things around.
Harold Varner III. Terrific ball striker.
Jason Day. Too good to keep struggling and showing some good signs
Phil Mickelson. This place just might suit Flaky Phil
Max Homa. Great swing
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