Rocket Mortgage Classic 2021 picks: Don’t overthink it: Bet Bryson this week
As any bettor knows, there's no such thing as a sure thing—particularly when it comes to gambling on the PGA Tour. The fields are so deep with talent week to week: It makes our job as golf prognosticators quite challenging. This week, though, is not a difficult week to make a pick. Our experts have arrived at a consensus: Don’t overthink it, and put your money on Bryson DeChambeau.
Of course, that is no guarantee. Look at last week: Bubba Watson looked like a lock at a venue he loved until his Sunday struggles on the back nine. Bryson could decide he wants to test some new machinery in his bag ahead of the Open Championship and blow off the week, but that’s not likely. Bryson won here at Detroit Golf Club in impressive fashion—breaking ShotLink in the process—and he’s the heavy favorite to lift the trophy again.
Sure, our betting panel—which consists of an anonymous caddie; Pat Mayo of Mayo Media Network; Brandon Gdula of FanDuel/numberFire; Rick Gehman of RickRunGood.com; and Lee Alldrick of FanShareSports.com, plus ourselves—has some other bets for the week … but we’re pretty much all on Team Bryson this week. How could you not be?
Read on to see who else we like this week at the 2021 Rocket Mortgage Classic.
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Rocket Mortgage Classic 2021 picks: Our Experts’ Outright Predictions (Odds from William Hill)
Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Bryson DeChambeau (+750) — It’s been a couple of disappointing weekends in a row for Bryson. He knows this is a great chance to avenge it.
Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Jason Kokrak (28-1) — Last time he played the Rocket Mortgage he gained almost seven strokes between driving and approach, but the chipping and putting weren’t there. Good news for 2021, Kokrak has been one of the best putters in the world. Flip those numbers on the green and pick up Win No. 3 for the season.
Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Webb Simpson (18-1) — Simpson has been a bit forgotten lately with his light schedule, but we have largely seen good results when he gives it a go. The missed cut at the U.S. Open came from poor driver play—but also uncharacteristically poor putting. He finished eighth here last year, and the data is as good as Bryson’s lately, even though it doesn’t feel that way.
Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Bryson DeChambeau (+750) — I’m going to try not to overthink this one and roll with the favorite and the defending champion. Detroit Golf Club looks more like a driving range than it does a PGA Tour venue, and DeChambeau will be able to bomb it off-the-tee without regard for any danger. He has gained strokes off the tee in 11 consecutive events and has gained strokes putting in seven of his past 11 events, via the RickRunGood.com golf database. That’s an optimal combination of skill-sets to have at Detroit Golf Club.
Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Joaquin Niemann (22-1) — I’ll be a lone voice of dissent and not pick Bryson. I’m on Niemann, who is ranked sixth in this field in SG/off the tee. With all the rain the Detroit area has gotten recently, his length should be a huge advantage. And he’s 14th on approach, which will be crucial this week. Plus, he finished fifth at Detroit Golf Club in 2019—so he obviously enjoys the layout.
Christopher Powers, Golf Digest assistant editor: Bryson DeChambeau (+750) — Taking the easy way out here for two reasons: 1. I’m desperately chasing a victory, and 2. I actually do think Bryson wins this thing by three or more shots (again). Couldn’t agree with Rick Gehman more: Don’t overthink this.
Lee Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Bryson DeChambeau (+750) — Not only does DeChambeau come into this event ranked second in the field for SG/total over the past two years, he also ranks ninth for SG/tee to green over the past two months. On top of that he already has a victory here at Detroit Golf Club.
Recent results: Golf Digest's betting panel has been red-hot the past two seasons. Our experts have now predicted seven of the past 19 winners—after going up 225.30 units last season. Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports called Garrick Higgo’s victory at the Palmetto Championship (at 40-1)! Stephen Hennessey predicted Jason Kokrak’s victory at the Charles Schwab Challenge a few weeks ago (at 45-1)! He also picked Jordan Spieth (11-1) at the Valero Texas Open. That continued a strong 2021—at The Players, Christopher Powers and Rick Gehman called Justin Thomas’ victory (18-1). That was each of their second accurate predictions of 2021, with Powers hitting Koepka (50-1) and Gehman calling Daniel Berger at Pebble Beach (14-1). Pat Mayo nailed Collin Morikawa at the WGC-Workday three events ago at 33-1 in addition to Koepka at the WMPO. And Brandon Gdula also called Berger’s win at Pebble Beach. We’ll stop there! Be sure to check this column every week for picks from the hottest betting panel in golf!
Listen to Golf Digest's weekly betting podcast, "Be Right," (below) where we interview the industry's leading experts (and sometimes tour pros) to help you make your bets and pick your fantasy lineups. And be sure to subscribe to "Be Right" wherever you get your podcasts!
Rocket Mortgage Classic 2021 picks: Sleepers/Dark Horses Who Could Win (Odds from William Hill)
Caddie: Chesson Hadley (175-1) — No doubt, the close call at Palmetto stung. But Chesson has had a few weeks now to shake it off. He was playing some great golf, and I expect that to continue. You’re going to need to go low—and he’s in the top five strokes gained/putting in this field—and he gets along even nicer with Poa greens.
Mayo: Chez Reavie (80-1) — On the heels of seven straight missed cuts, Reavie’s now made three in a row, gaining an average of 4.5 strokes on approach over those starts. The putter just hasn’t come along yet. Detroit G.C. welcomes all lengths off the tee to contend, so this is one of the venues where Chez will have a shot.
Gdula: Cameron Davis (100-1) — When Davis gets it going, we know he can pile up birdies (he’s 25th on tour in birdie or better rate this season), and that’s what you need for contention at Detroit Golf Club. He’s not the safest play, but my model has him in the 94th percentile in adjusted SG/off the tee and in the 79th percentile in adjusted SG/approach. It’s the right combo for upside.
Gehman: Mito Pereira (80-1) — Pereira is no stranger to the winner’s circle, winning three times this year on the Korn Ferry Tour and earning the “battlefield promotion,” which gives him status as a PGA Tour member. Each of his past two starts have been victories, and he’s finished inside the top 10 in five of his past six starts. His game is sharp, his confidence is high and his number is long.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Seamus Power (80-1) — The big-hitting Irishman played in one of the final groups here last year, sitting T-4 after three rounds, then sputtered to a final-round 72. But he arrives back at Detroit in great form—coming off three straight top-20s including a ninth-place at the Byron Nelson. The tee-to-green numbers are quite good over the past month, so I think the vibes will be great this week. Plus, he got in this field as an alternate—remember when Nate Lashley won this two years ago as an alternate?
Powers, Golf Digest: Tom Lewis (100-1) — If this does turn into a drive it and putt it week, this former top-50 player in the world could be very live. He’s seventh in this field in SG/off the tee over his past 50 rounds, per Fantasy National, and he’s gained strokes with the putter in consecutive weeks after a rough stretch on the greens. Also, in his lone appearance here a year ago, he finished 12th, so he likes the course.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Jason Day (33-1) — Day is getting closer and closer to his best and his top 10 last week will give him some much needed confidence going into this week. His solid off-the-tee game and razor sharp short game means he ranks first in the FanShare Sports course-suitability ranking this week.
Rocket Mortgage Classic 2021 picks: Players to Fade This Week (who will disappoint)
Caddie: Patrick Reed (18-1) — I tend to like Reed’s chances on a course where he has more room to work the ball. He missed the cut last time—and just think the lack of distance can cost him this week with how wet it will be in Detroit.
Mayo: Jason Day (33-1) — Do these oddsmakers think this is 2016? The Aussie doesn’t have a finish better than T-7 in any of his past 20 starts. No doubt he still has the skills to win, but he’s being treated like he’s still an elite, consistent talent at this price.
Gdula: Jason Day (33-1) — Day’s odds are creeping up after a 10th at the Travelers last week, but he finished that way by gaining 6.9 strokes combined from around-the-green play and putting. Also, among the favorites, he’s really an outlier in birdie or better rate. It’s not the best fit for Day this week.
Gehman: Jason Day (33-1) — As much as I root for Day to return to his glory days, the metrics don’t leave much reason to be optimistic. Last week he earned a T-10 finish, his best result since February. Unfortunately, he leaned heavily on his short game, gaining 3.67 strokes/around the green and another 3.24 strokes on the greens. That’s likely unsustainable for Day, and it appears that regression is in his future.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Jason Day (33-1) — Yes, I watched Day last week, too. It doesn’t seem like three days of rest is enough for this 30-something golfer going on 50.
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Powers, Golf Digest: Jason Day (33-1) — I was on Day last week, and even when he grabbed the lead Friday night I didn’t feel great about it, mostly due to the fact he looked like he was hobbling around with a bad back. That seems to be his new reality, and he does claim that he can still execute the shots and it’s really just an overall stiffness he’s dealing with. If I’m going to bet on him again, though, it needs to be back up at 70-1 or longer, not at this semi-favorite price.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Webb Simpson (18-1) — Simpson’s form is very poor coming into this event. He ranks just 58th in the field this week for SG/tee to green over the past two months and 123rd for Opportunities Gained over the same period. Not the type of figures you’re looking for in the fourth favorite.
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Rocket Mortgage Classic 2021 picks: Matchups
Caddie: Bryson DeChambeau (-133) over Patrick Reed (William Hill) — We’re all in on Bryson, and OUT on Reed. This could be an account-saver.
Mayo: Max Homa (+105) over Keegan Bradley (DraftKings) — Homa just needs to make the cut to vault up the leaderboard. Even if Keegan finds the weekend, his usual putting stroke will just have him near the bottom page of the leaderboard by Sunday.
Gdula: Jason Kokrak (-122) over Kevin Kisner (FanDuel) — Though Kisner benefits from a course that doesn’t entirely demand distance off the tee, the tee-to-green data heavily favors Kokrak, and Kokrak’s putting has been trending back up over time, as well.
Gehman: Gary Woodland (-120) over Maverick McNealy (DraftKings) — We are starting to see signs of Woodland returning to form after battling injuries for much of the last year. He has now gained strokes off the tee in six of his past nine starts—and has also gained on approach in four of his last five. If he’s that version of Woodland again, he’s in a completely different class than McNealy.
Hennessey: Keegan Bradley (-108) over Jason Day (FanDuel) — Keegan had a surprising off week last week, but the longer-term ball-striking numbers side with him still in this match up. The fade of Day might be square, but I think Keegan’s consistency off the tee gives him an edge here.
Powers: Lucas Glover (-125) over Adam Hadwin (DraftKings) — Outside of an out-of-nowhere top 10 at Colonial, Hadwin has been pretty bad since mid-April. Glover, meanwhile, is a reliable cut-maker thanks to his approach prowess and much improved putter, and he finished top 25 in his lone start in the event last season.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Patrick Reed (-125) over Webb Simpson (Betway) — As you can see above, Simpson’s form coming into this event is very poor. Reed on the other hand ranks second for SG/tee to green over the past two months and first for SG/total over the past two years. Reed also has success at this course with a fifth-place finish to his name here in 2019.
Matchup results from the Travelers: Alldrick: 1 for 1 (Charley Hoffman (+100) over Matthew Wolff); Hennessey, Powers: 1 for 1 (each picked Jason Day over Justin Rose (-110); Gehman: 1 for 1 (Aaron Wise (-113) over Cameron Tringale); Caddie, Mayo, Gdula: 0 for 1.
Matchup Results this season (Wins-Losses-Pushes): Hennessey: 20-13-2 (up 5.87 units); Alldrick: 20-16-1 (up 2.43 units); Gdula: 19-16-2 (up 1.74 units); Powers: 17-16-4 (down 0.29 units); Gehman: 16-19-2 (down 3.00 units); Caddie: 13-20-4 (down 6.92 units); Mayo: 14-20-2 (down 7.14 units).
Rocket Mortgage Classic 2021 picks: Top 10 (Odds from William Hill)
Caddie: Sungjae Im (+300) — One of the best players in a weak field at +300 seems like great value. If he can avoid these big numbers that have plagued him all year, Sungjae’s game is good enough to win this thing.
Mayo: Max Homa (+450) — Homa is incredibly hit or miss, but when he hits, it’s a top 10. He’s had a penchant for playing well at classical designs, and this being a Donald Ross, it fits that bill. Over his past nine starts he’s made only three cuts. All of the made cuts have been top 10s, though.
Gdula: Si Woo Kim (+450) — Kim’s putter is significantly better when he’s off of Bermuda greens, which he is this week, and he’s also just one of the best tee-to-green players in this field over the past year. While the results have been middling at Detroit Golf Club, we typically see Kim succeed on easy courses.
Gehman: Webb Simpson (+163) — Simpson has struggled with a neck injury that forced him to withdraw from the Wells Fargo Championship. He’s only played twice since April, but he’s seemingly healthy again as he gears up for a sprint to the playoffs. On a course that doesn’t penalize golfers for poor drives, that means Simpson will be able to tap into the rest of his skills and attempt to make enough birdies to win.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Cameron Davis (+900) — These are juicy odds for someone who I’ve pulled the trigger on an outright bet. There are four gettable par 5s at Detroit Golf Club, which plays into the young Aussie’s hands.
Powers, Golf Digest: Webb Simpson (+163) — The missed cut at the U.S. Open was only his third on tour since last year’s Rocket Mortgage Classic. He’s top-10’d in four of his last 12 starts and top-10’d here a year ago. Banking on a return to form for Webber starting this week.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Doc Redman (+450) — Redman loves Detroit Golf Course. He ranks second in the field this week for SG/total at Rocket Mortgage and has a second-place finish to his name here. Redman has two top-10 finishes in his past five events—everything is set up for him to have another good week.
Top-10 results from the Travelers: Gehman: 1 for 1 (Harris English (+400); Powers: 1 for 1 (Abraham Ancer (+250); Everyone else: 0 for 1.
Top-10 results from this season: Gehman: 8 for 34 (up 12.85 units); Powers: 6 for 34 (down 2.5 units); Hennessey: 5 for 32 (down 5.5 units); Gdula: 3 for 33 (down 14.5 units); Tour caddie: 5 for 33 (down 14.85 units); Mayo: 2 for 33 (down 18 units); Alldrick: 2 for 32 (down 22 units).
Rocket Mortgage Classic 2021 picks: One and Done
Gehman: Jason Kokrak — The course key stats model at RickRunGood.com points out two stats that have most strongly correlated to success at Detroit Golf Club in the first two years of its existence. Those stats were: SG/approach and SG/putting. There is only one golfer in this field who ranks inside the top 5 in both of those stats over the past 24 rounds … and his name is Jason Kokrak.
Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Joel Dahmen; U.S. Open: Jon Rahm; Corales: Denny McCarthy. Sanderson: Sebastian Munoz. Shriners: Matthew Wolff. CJ Cup: Xander Schauffele. Zozo: Bubba Watson. Bermuda: Rasmus Hojgaard. Houston: Lanto Griffin. Masters: Rory McIlroy. RSM: Webb Simpson. Sentry TOC: Patrick Reed. Sony: Abraham Ancer. AMEX: Patrick Cantlay. Torrey: Jon Rahm. Waste Management: Webb Simpson. AT&T Pebble Beach: Jason Day. Genesis Invitational: Rory McIlroy. WGC-Workday: Tyrrell Hatton. The Players: Bryson DeChambeau; Honda Classic: Sungjae Im. WGC-Match Play: Patrick Reed. Valero Texas Open: Jordan Spieth. The Masters: Dustin Johnson. RBC Heritage: Daniel Berger. Valspar: Paul Casey. Wells Fargo: Viktor Hovland. AT&T Byron Nelson: Sam Burns. PGA Championship: Collin Morikawa. Charles Schwab Challenge: Charley Hoffman. Memorial Tournament: Billy Horschel. Palmetto Championship: Lucas Glover. U.S. Open: Brooks Koepka. Travelers Championship:
Hennessey: Bryson DeChambeau — Kudos to folks like me who have saved Bryson in their one-and-dones. This is the ideal week to burn him.
Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Phil Mickelson; U.S. Open: Hideki Matsuyama; Corales: Adam Long. Sanderson: Sam Burns. Shriners: Harris English. CJ Cup: Kevin Na. Zozo: Joaquin Niemann. Bermuda: Doc Redman. Houston: Russell Henley. Masters: Tyrrell Hatton. RSM: Brian Harman. Sentry TOC: Justin Thomas. Sony: Ryan Palmer. AMEX: Scottie Scheffler. Torrey: Sungjae Im. Waste Management: Daniel Berger. AT&T Pebble Beach: Francesco Molinari. Genesis Invitational: Tony Finau. WGC-Workday: Xander Schauffele. The Players: Jordan Spieth. Honda Classic: Adam Scott. WGC-Match Play: Patrick Reed. Valero Texas Open: Chris Kirk. The Masters: Dustin Johnson. RBC Heritage: Webb Simpson. Valspar: Charley Hoffman. Wells Fargo: Max Homa. AT&T Byron Nelson: Will Zalatoris. PGA Championship: Xander Schauffele. Charles Schwab Challenge: Abraham Ancer. Memorial Tournament: Collin Morikawa. Palmetto Championship: Matt Fitzpatrick. U.S. Open: Jon Rahm. Travelers Championship: Paul Casey.
Powers: Doc Redman — He has a runner-up and 21st in his two Rocket Mortgage appearances. If he can just not lose strokes off the tee this week, he can feast with the irons and the putter.
Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Brendan Steele; U.S. Open: Louis Oosthuizen; Corales: Adam Long. Sanderson: Sam Burns. Shriners: Jason Kokrak. CJ Cup: Daniel Berger. Zozo: Joaquin Niemann. Bermuda: Denny McCarthy. Houston: Russell Henley. Masters: Bubba Watson. RSM: Brian Harman. Mayakoba: Corey Conners. Sentry TOC: Harris English. Sony: Zach Johnson. AMEX: Matthew Wolff. Torrey: Tony Finau. Waste Management: Sungjae Im. AT&T Pebble Beach: Jason Day. Genesis: Hideki Matsuyama. WGC-Workday: Tyrrell Hatton. The Players: Tommy Fleetwood. Honda Classic: Adam Scott. WGC-Match Play: Matt Fitzpatrick. Valero Texas Open: Chris Kirk. The Masters: Jordan Spieth. RBC Heritage: Kevin Kisner. Valspar: Patrick Reed. Wells Fargo: Patrick Cantlay. AT&T Byron Nelson: Will Zalatoris. PGA Championship: Rory McIlroy. Charles Schwab Challenge: Joaquin Niemann. Memorial Tournament: Jon Rahm. Palmetto Championship: Harold Varner III. U.S. Open: Bryson DeChambeau. Travelers Championship: Scottie Scheffler.
By The Numbers:
Courtesy of Rick Gehman of RickRunGood.com:
23.4 percent — The birdie or better rate for Jason Kokrak over his last 24 rounds, the best mark of anyone in this field.
1.37 — The strokes gained on approach, per round for Emiliano Grillo since April 1st. That is, by far, the best mark in this field. The gap between Grillo (first) and Matusyama (second) is the same gap from Matsuyama to Joel Dahmen (16th).
12.6 — The total number of strokes gained/putting for Brian Stuard at this event, the most of any golfer who has played all eight rounds of this tournament’s existence.
2.27 — The number of strokes gained per round for Webb Simpson on Donald Ross designed courses since 2015. That’s the best mark of anyone in this field with at least five rounds.
About our experts
Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, owner of the Mayo Media Network and host of The Pat Mayo Experience. (Subscribe for video or audio. Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2020 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award, and was finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 21 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo is on the board of governors at www.fantasynational.com.
Brandon Gdula, managing editor and analyst for NumberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 fantasy sports-writers association Golf Writer of the Year *(congrats, Brandon!)*. Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast.
Rick Gehman is the founder of RickRunGood.com and the RickRunGood YouTube Channel, is one of the industry’s leading experts on golf DFS and gambling. Gehman is co-host of the First Cut Podcast and appears regularly on the Pat Mayo Experience golf podcasts. Follow him on Twitter: @RickRunGood.
Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports started out writing an article highlighting the best bargain plays for fantasy golf under his twitter handle @DKGolfBargains. His success at this prompted FanShare Sports to enlist him as a guest writer, which evolved into him writing the weekly Under The Radar article. As a U.K.-based expert, Alldrick’s insight into European Tour regulars and low priced, low owned plays has provided an invaluable edge for readers when it comes to DFS GPPs.