Power Rankings: Rocket Mortgage Classic
June 28, 2021
By Rob Bolton , PGATOUR.COM
- Defending champion Bryson DeChambeau is one to watch at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. (Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Just as David Duval always will have the 2001 Open Championship, the 2020 Rocket Mortgage Classic forever is Bryson DeChambeau’s. The connection drawn is that of a manifestation of a commitment to optimize physical fitness on the individual level.
Competing on what would be borrowed time as a proverbial flat belly, Duval captured his only major in a frame that was at a fraction of what he carried during, say, his walk-off 59 at the 1999 edition of what is now The American Express. In the other direction, DeChambeau capitalized on rare extended free time during the 2020 shutdown and bulked up, in the process proving that golf doesn’t discriminate.
Forgotten during our adjustment to the visual is how DeChambeau prevailed at Detroit Golf Club last year. Even if it triggers the memory, it’s understood how it’s overlooked. We can process the long ball easier than the summation of relative ability to roll it into the cup. For the refresher on that, what’s new in Motown and more, scroll past the projected contenders for the third edition of the RMC.
ROCKET MORTGAGE CLASSIC
Tuesday’s Fantasy Insider will include reviews of Travelers runner-up Kramer Hickok, 2019 RMC champion Nate Lashley, 2020 RMC runner-up Matthew Wolff, Rickie Fowler, Sungjae Im and other notables.
Before DeChambeau pummeled Winged Foot at the 2020 U.S. Open to break into the winner’s column in the majors, he previewed that muscle in Detroit. En route to posting 23-under 265 to win by three, he led the field in distance of all drives with an astonishing average of 329.8 yards. Of all courses measured and not situated at an elevation that increases distance, it was the longest average anywhere in four years. It also was 10.1 yards longer than Cameron Champ, who slotted second in the stat for the tournament.
Plain and simple, it was an unfair fight off the tee, but DeChambeau didn’t waste it. Despite ranking T58 in fairways hit (33 of 56), he led the field in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and averaged 14 greens in regulation per round on the 5,150-square foot targets, good for T13 overall. And while he was last of the 70 who made the cut in proximity to the hole – his average of 37 feet, six inches was six feet, four inches longer than the field average – he led the field in Strokes Gained: Putting, thus becoming the first in ShotLink history (2004-present) to pace any tournament in both SG: Off-the-Tee and SG: Putting.
DeChambeau connected on half of his par-breaker opportunities to finish second in putting: birdies-or-better. He also led the field in par-4 scoring and finished T2 in par-5 scoring.
Detroit GC is stock par 72, so it’s imperative to take advantage of the par 5s. DeChambeau netted an eagle, 10 birdies and four pars to offset a lone bogey on Nos. 5, 7, 14 and 17. That value is boosted by the fact that the par 5s are hardest comparably versus the par 3s and the par 4s.
But make no mistake, just as it did in its first two turns as host, the course will yield deeply red numbers throughout the tournament. Last year’s scoring average of 70.052 was lowest among all par 72s in tournaments with only one course hosting during the 2019-20 season. The 36-hole cut landed at 5-under 139.
The Donald Ross design technically is a composite course for the RMC because the par-4 third is the opener for members on the South Course. All the other 17 holes contribute to the walk on the North. This includes the par-4 12th that’s been increased by 30 yards with the addition of a new tee. Detroit GC now tips at 7,370 yards.
The blend of bentgrass and Poa annua greens could reach a Stimpmeter reading of 12-and-a-half feet. The bluegrass rough is trimmed to four inches and it could be thicker this year, so don’t be surprised to consume reaction emphasizing a higher premium on finding fairways. That said, shootouts on decently sized stages almost never are determined by contests of accuracy.
The first full weekend of summer will be defined by daytime highs that are lower than average, but mid-70s can play through anytime. The chance for rain and even a thunderclap can’t be ruled out, but the risk is moderate at worst, and only early in the event. Wind could kick up if any energy encroaches but it will not be sustained.
ROB BOLTON’S SCHEDULE
PGATOUR.COM’s Fantasy Insider Rob Bolton recaps and previews every tournament from numerous angles. Look for his following contributions as scheduled.
MONDAY: Power Rankings
TUESDAY*: Sleepers; Fantasy Insider
* - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, which also publishes on Tuesday.