Rocket Mortgage Classic DFS picks 2023: Keep the faith in Rickie Fowler
If you like birdies, you’re going to LOVE the Rocket Mortgage Classic. In its four years of existence, the average winning score has been 23-under par. Detroit Golf Club will allow the big hitters to bomb it around the grounds without much penalty for missing the fairway.
This is not a designated event but will still draw some big names at the top of the board, including Justin Thomas who added this to his schedule for the first time. We are in the stretch run of the season and every FedEx Cup point becomes incredibly valuable.
Here are the players who have my interest—and those who certainly don’t—this week at the 2023 Rocket Mortgage Classic.
Golfers I'm Definitely Playing
Rickie Fowler ($10,400 DraftKings | $12,000 FanDuel)
Fowler’s resurgence is well-documented, and it’s backed up by impressive metrics. He’s gained multiple strokes from tee-to-green in eight straight tournaments and has piled up at least eight strokes in four events during that run, per the RickRunGood.com golf database. For casual fans, you might think this run started at the U.S. Open—but his great play extends back for months. That gives him such a great baseline to make a run at the top of the leaderboard.
Sungjae Im ($9,400 DraftKings | $10,800 FanDuel)
Im is looking to break out of a rare slump, and he started to head in the right direction at TPC River Highlands. He gained strokes from tee-to-green in each of his four rounds and putted beautifully from Thursday through Saturday. Now he’ll look to extend his cut streak at Detroit Golf Club to four and improve on his T-8 finish from 2021.
Alex Smalley ($8,600 DraftKings | $9,900 FanDuel)
Smalley is starting to steady the ship, gaining four-plus strokes ball-striking in five of his past six starts. That run was highlighted by a T-9 finish last week in Connecticut, where he fired a 62 on Friday. He will go as far as his putter allows him, so we’ll need a positive putting week for him to truly contend.
Austin Eckroat ($8,000 DraftKings | $9,700 FanDuel)
Another great week from Eckroat whose T-24 finish was actually on pace to be much better. He made an ugly double bogey on his 70th hole of the week, dropping him out of the top 10. His game continues to trend in the right direction, and now he will get to battle the weakest field he’s seen in a few weeks.
Callum Tarren ($6,900 DraftKings | $8,000 FanDuel)
Tarren’s game had really fallen off a cliff in 2023, but he’s starting to show signs of progress. He’s made four of his past five cuts, gaining strokes off-the-tee at the same rate. He’s still struggling with the flatstick but finished T-20 here last year, so hopefully he can use those good vibes to take another step in his progression.
Golfers I Might Play
Justin Thomas ($10,000 DraftKings | $11,600 FanDuel)
Thomas is incredibly enticing right now, coming off a week where he gained more than seven strokes on approach. That marks his best approach week since the 2022 Valspar Championship. I still worry about him on the putting surfaces, where he's lost strokes in nine of his last 10, considering this event will require plenty of birdies to be made. He does earn the benefit of playing against the weakest field that he has in some time.
Cameron Davis ($9,300 DraftKings | $10,600 FanDuel)
Davis has been erratic but has flashed enough brilliance to entice me again this week. He was splendid en route to a T-4 at the PGA Championship before missing three straight cuts. He got back on track last week in Connecticut with two brilliant rounds (Thursday and Sunday). His last two trips to Detroit have yielded great returns, a T-14 and a victory.
Chris Kirk ($8,500 DraftKings | $10,200 FanDuel)
Kirk has struggled lately, missing three straight cuts. If there was a place for him to “get right,” it would be here in Detroit. Kirk has teed it up three times and hasn’t finished worse than T-21 in any of those starts. He’s gained over 10 strokes putting in those 12 rounds, per the RickRunGood.com golf database, which would help him get back on track.
Kevin Yu ($7,000 DraftKings | $8,800 FanDuel)
Yu returned to action last week, making his first start since early February. He picked up right where he left off, gaining strokes in the ball-striking categories and giving them back on the putting surface. He made plenty of birdies last week but will need to clean up some of the big numbers. Hopefully he knocked off the rust and tidy up those aspects of his game.
Matti Schmid ($6,500 DraftKings | $7,400 FanDuel)
The bottom of the player pool doesn’t ignite a ton of confidence, but Schmid has a few good results that will likely go overlooked. He just finished T-18 last week at the BMW International Open and finished T-21 at the KLM Open a few starts prior. Since both of those came on the DP World Tour, the average American viewer won’t give him the credit he deserves in those weeks.
Golfers I'm Fading
Tony Finau ($10,900 DraftKings | $11,900 FanDuel)
Finau is sporting his most expensive price on DraftKings since the 2021 Texas Open. In return for that price, you receive a golfer who has lost multiple strokes putting in five straight starts and is in the midst of his worst approach stretch since 2022. Those are pretty tough pills to swallow for the most expensive golfer on the slate.
Harris English ($9,000 DraftKings | $10,300 FanDuel)
Speaking of expensive prices, this is the most expensive English has been on DraftKings since the 2021 RSM Classic. He made the cut in Connecticut last week but was miserable on the weekend, losing 4.3 strokes on approach—the second-worst approach weekend of anyone who made the cut.
Adam Hadwin ($8,100 DraftKings | $9,700 FanDuel)
Hadwin’s T-4 here in 2020 was pretty surprising considering this course doesn’t remotely set up for his strengths. That was a bit more evident with his MC in 2021 and T-37 in 2022. Detroit Golf Club tends to reward distance over accuracy off-the-tee, which is troublesome for Hadwin. Combine with some recent putting struggles (by his own standards), and it’s a tough click for this week.
JJ Spaun ($7,500 DraftKings | $9,100 FanDuel)
Spaun doesn’t have a top 20 in a stroke-play event since the Sony Open in mid-January. Since then, he’s struggled to find consistency in any one facet of his game, and he’s hemorrhaging strokes on the putting surfaces. The winner this week might need to get to 25-under, so putting will be critical at Detroit Golf Club.
Davis Thompson ($6,900 DraftKings | $7,900 FanDuel)
Thompson has failed to make the weekend in five of his past seven starts and failed to break into the top 50 since the American Express in January. The talent is real, but he’s been unable to put multiple rounds together. His best attribute, his around-the-green play, likely won’t be important this week making it another uphill battle for Thompson.
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Rick Gehman, 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.