Rocket Mortgage Classic picks 2023: It's now or never for this scorching-hot star
It's no designated event, but this week's Rocket Mortgage Classic still features a solid top half of the field, particularly thanks to the surprise addition of Justin Thomas. The two-time PGA champion found a little something last week at the Travelers Championship, and he appears poised to build on that this week at Detroit Golf Club.
One of his good buddies, Rickie Fowler, is up near the top of the odds board, too. And, as a few of our experts argue, it's now or never for this former superstar who lost his game and is on the path to reclaim that superstar status once more.
Scroll down to see who we like this week at the 2023 Rocket Mortgage Classic.
Rocket Mortgage Classic picks 2023: Our Experts’ Outright Predictions
Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Tom Kim (20-1, FanDuel) — Tom has been showing signs of great golf but just hasn’t been able to put four rounds together lately. He finished eighth at the U.S. Open and played great last week at the Travelers three of the four rounds. Tom also proved that he likes Detroit Golf Club with a top-10 finish last year at the Rocket Mortgage. I like the value here with a young guy who can get hot at any time.
Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Rickie Fowler (14-1, DraftKings) — If not now, when? He’s scorching hot and this is a beatable field. It’s time.
Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Sungjae Im (20-1, FanDuel) — Sungjae Im is a top-20 golfer in three of four strokes-gained stats over his past 50 rounds versus the field. The outlier is iron play, which is always important. But with how easy Detroit Golf Club plays, Im is in a good position to use his accuracy and short game to go low.
Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Rickie Fowler (14-1, DraftKings) — It’s time. Fowler has been on the verge of breaking through for a few weeks but his improved play dates back a few months. Fowler is the best player in this field since January 1st. He’s gaining 1.62 strokes per round during that period – per the RickRunGood.com golf database. He’s been top notch from tee-to-green which is giving him plenty of chances late on Sunday. This time he crosses the finish line.
Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Cam Davis (33-1, BetMGM) — I love the ultra-talented Aussie on this course. His elite off-the-tee game is a weapon when trying to overpower these doglegs at Detroit Golf Club. And his short game is stout. He had a great Sunday at the Travelers—with his flat stick heating up to gain 2.56 strokes putting along with great off the tee play, per FantasyNational.com—and now he’ll carry that momentum onto a course where he has a win in 2021 and a T-14 last year.
Christopher Powers, Golf Digest staff writer: Sungjae Im (20-1, FanDuel) — It feels like it’s been a down year for Sung and yet he’s still had a handful of spike performances, almost all of them coming in designated events. This week is very much not one of those, but it’s a prime opportunity to flex his muscle and pick up a season-altering win against a weak field. Last time here, he finished inside the top 10, gaining 8.2 strokes tee-to-green. Expect a similar performance in the friendly confines of Detroit Golf Club from Im. It will just be a matter of whether he can make enough birdie putts.
Andy Lack, RickRunGood.com and Inside Golf podcast: Tony Finau (14-1, DraftKings) — Despite being the defending champion, Tony Finau is flying relatively under the radar this week due to some understandable concerns about his recent form. While the six-time PGA Tour winner has failed to finish in the top 20 in his five starts since winning the Mexico Open, the ball-striking has never wavered. Finau is coming off a ho-hum 45th at the Travelers Championship where he gained strokes in both ball-striking categories, including over three strokes off the tee. There’s absolutely nothing to prove in terms of course fit, and I would argue that Finau is a better player now than he was at this time last year.
Past results: As we head into summer, the panel remains as hot as ever, with 11 outright victories on the year as a group. Brandon Gdula leads the way with SIX of his own, his latest coming at the U.S. Open where Gdula touted Wyndham Clark at 85-1 (!!). Our newest expert picker, Andy Lack, checks in next with two winners on the year. The rest of us have some catching up to do.
Listen to Golf Digest's weekly betting podcast, "The Loop," (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 "The Loop" wherever you get your podcasts!
Rocket Mortgage Classic picks 2023: Sleepers/Dark Horses Who Could Win
Caddie: Taylor Moore (60-1, Caesars Sportsbook) — He is actually coming to the Rocket Mortgage in some pretty bad form, having not finished inside the top 10 since his win at the Valspar—but that actually increases his value here. He finished solo sixth here last year. Putting is where his bread is buttered, and this week is a birdie-fest on a course that requires golfers to roll the rock. Don’t be surprised to see him break out of his slump this week.
Mayo: J.J. Spaun (50-1, DraftKings) — The ball-striking has been superb and he’s got seriously good history on the green here at Detroit Golf Club, gaining at least four strokes with the putter in three of his four trips.
Gdula: Lee Hodges (100-1, FanDuel) — This field and these scoring conditions really lend itself to being anyone’s game. Hodges is a top-35 ball-striker in the field and is very accurate off the tee. The short game is just okay, yet he has had some pop weeks recently.
Gehman: Aaron Rai (55-1, DraftKings) — Rai doesn’t always play well, but when he does, he’s near the top of the leaderboard. Four rounds of 68 or better last week was good enough for a T-24 finish. He’s missed the cut in four of his last eight events but his made cuts are that T-24 finish, a T-3 at the Canadian Open, T-12 at the Charles Schwab and T-13 at the Zurich Classic.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Taylor Pendrith (100-1, BetMGM) — Pendrith battled with Tony Finau last year, and there are few players who can distance themselves off the tee like the Canadian. Pendrith has struggled recently, but we’ve seen in the past with guys returning to tournaments where they’ve had success, sometimes a venue that fits their eye is all they need to find their form.
Powers, Golf Digest: Sepp Straka (60-1, BetRivers) — Straka is as boom-or-bust as they come and it feels like it’s time for a boom week this week. Strong SG/off-the-tee players have generally fared well at DGC and Straka has gained in that department in six consecutive starts. In five appearances in this event, the big Austrian has two top 11s and three missed cuts. Like I said, boom or bust.
Lack: Mark Hubbard (100-1, PointsBet) — While I know Mark Hubbard disappointed many as a trendy pick at the Travelers, I would not be so quick to hop off. Hubbard missed the cut on the number at TPC River Highlands while still gaining three strokes on approach. The 34-year-old’s irons have been on fire of late, as he has now gained over three strokes on approach in four straight starts. I love the way that Hubbard is hitting the ball right now, and I do not particularly feel that his lack of driving ability is really going to hurt him much at this course. With so many approach shots inside 125 yards, Detroit Golf Club should fit Hubbard’s ideal proximity ranges even better than the recent courses he has been tearing up.
Rocket Mortgage Classic picks 2023: Players We’re Fading
Caddie: Collin Morikawa (14-1, DraftKings) — Yes, Morikawa is a superb ball-striker, but his form is not up to his standards as of late. Has only notched one top 10 since January and missed the cut last week at another birdie-making course. He will find himself in contention again some time soon I’m sure, but this won’t be the week.
Mayo: Tony Finau (14-1, DraftKings) — This week is all about driving and his driving hasn’t been all that great since his Mexico Open win.
Gdula: Tom Kim (20-1, FanDuel) — This course certainly sets up pretty well for Kim. The issue is how short the odds are. A lot of names have short odds, yet Kim’s stand out to me in particular as avoidable.
Gehman: Tony Finau (14-1, DraftKings) — These are aggressively short odds for Finau who, despite being the defending champion, doesn’t have a whole lot going for him. The flat stick has left him and he’s lost 16.54 strokes putting in his last five starts alone. That’s concerning enough in an event where you’ll need to make a ton of birdies to contend but he’s also been struggling on his approach shots as well. This feels like a trap that I will avoid this week.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Collin Morikawa (14-1, DraftKings) — I’m with our caddie here: This feels like a very non-Morikawa course, so I’ll gladly fade him here.
Powers, Golf Digest: Rickie Fowler (12-1, BetMGM) — I love Rickie and truly hope he wins this week but you’ve lost your damn mind if you think this man is winning a golf tournament as the favorite. I will gladly eat my words if he does.
Lack: Collin Morikawa (14-1, DraftKings) — I’m not ready to sound the alarm bells on Collin Morikawa just yet, but I have absolutely zero interest in backing him to win a putting contest at this number. Morikawa is still the best iron player in this field, but there has been no statistical pathway to winning this tournament without a hot putter, and I remain pessimistic that the two-time major winner has much confidence on the greens right now.
Rocket Mortgage Classic picks 2023: Matchups
Caddie: Justin Thomas (+100) over Collin Morikawa (DraftKings) — I know JT admitted he was completely lost after the U.S. Open, but golf is a funny game. A couple low rounds—even if you’re not sure where they came from—can just instantly restore a lot of the confidence. JT has the power to bomb it over some of these doglegs and give himself some short approaches—and I love his short game here.
Mayo: J.J. Spaun (-110) over Chris Kirk (DraftKings) — Kirk had his run earlier this season, and he hasn’t been very good since.
Gdula: Beau Hossler (-115) over Justin Suh (FanDuel) — Neither golfer here has a complete game right now, but it’s Hossler who is more reliable off the tee and has the better overall short game. The long-term data favors him at these odds.
Gehman: Hideki Matsuyama (+100) over Max Homa (Bet365) — What am I missing here? Homa has missed two straight cuts and has struggled to find much consistency this spring/summer. Matsuayama has been knocking the cover off the ball, gaining 31.77 strokes on approach in his last seven starts. He’s piled up four top-16 finishes during that stretch. These are two golfers headed in opposite directions so I’ll take the one trending upwards.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Austin Eckroat (-110) over Brian Harman (DraftKings) — Harman is coming off a nice two-week stretch at the U.S. Open and the Travelers, but so is Eckroat. And Eckroat has a big-time power advantage over the diminutive lefty, so I’ll gladly keep riding the form of Eckroat with the ability to take it super low and put himself in great positions to score at Detroit Golf Club.
Powers, Golf Digest: Sungjae Im (+100) over Tony Finau (DraftKings) — This is one we’ll have to sweat deep into Sunday, as I fully expect both of these guys to be in contention. Ultimately, I’ll back my pick to win at plus money over Finau, whose putter has gone cold which doesn’t bode well for a late Sunday run.
Lack: Justin Thomas (+100) over Collin Morikawa (DraftKings) — Both Justin Thomas and Collin Morikawa fit a similar profile: elite iron players with major concerns surrounding their putting. I simply have more faith in Thomas right now, who is a lot longer off the tee than Morikawa, and has a far lengthier track record of success in easy scoring conditions. Thomas gained nearly 10 more strokes on approach than Morikawa last week at the Travelers, and he appears as motivated as ever to justify his place in the Ryder Cup conversation. Thomas added this event to his schedule at the last minute for a reason, and I’m expecting a statement from the 14-time PGA Tour winner in Detroit.
Matchup Results from the Travelers Championship: Hennessey: 1 for 1 (Bradley (+100) over McCarthy); Powers: 1 for 1 (Scott (+105) over Day); Lack: 1 for 1 (Conners (-130) over Rodgers); Gdula: 1 for 1 (Fowler (-118) over Homa); Gehman: 0 for 1; Caddie: 0 for 1; Mayo: 0 for 1
Matchup Results from this season (Wins-Losses-Pushes): Hennessey: 21-12-1 (up 7.71 units); Gehman: 20-12-2 (up 6.46 units); Powers: 18-14-2 (up 3.81 units); Caddie: 17-14-3 (up 2.11 units); Lack: 12-10-1 (up 1.5 units); Gdula: 15-18-1 (down 5.23 units); Mayo: 12-19-0 (down 7.4 units)
Rocket Mortgage Classic picks 2023: Top 10s
Caddie: Callum Tarren (+1000, DraftKings) — The Englishman has been showing a recent uptick in play as of the last month. He was in contention at the PGA and the Canadian Open and has been in the top 30 in ball-striking each of the past few weeks. Having finished 20th here last year, he should feel comfortable here. Also, bombers always do well here due to lack of trouble off the tee, so I expect a good week out of him.
Mayo: Ludvig Aberg (+400, DraftKings) — Has impressed so far early in his career but hasn’t really burst onto the scene yet. I’m betting the long-hitting young Swede does just that this week.
Gdula: Chris Kirk (+500, FanDuel) — One of the better ball-strikers in the field, Kirk also has a pretty complete short game for someone with his level of top-10 odds. He’s also finished T-21, T-12, and T-17 at this course in three starts – giving him some of the best and most complete form of anyone in the field at the course.
Gehman: Chris Kirk (+500, DraftKings) — Kirk has missed his last three cuts, something he hasn’t done since early 2020. However, if there was ever a place to provide a spark, it would be Detroit Golf Club. He’s played here three times, finishing T-17, T-12 and T-21. He’s gained 1.61 strokes to the field per round, which is the most of any golfer in this field who has played at least nine rounds at this event – per the RickRunGood.com golf database.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Carson Young (+1000, DraftKings) — The PGA Tour rookie has had a very nice couple of months, with top-20 finishes at last week’s Travelers Championship, the AT&T Byron Nelson, the Mexico Open and the RBC Heritage. He gained nearly a stroke per round last week, and he’s gained strokes putting every week since April. A hot putter is going to be clutch this week at a birdie-fest, so I like him to hang around over the weekend.
Powers, Golf Digest: Taylor Pendrith (+650, DraftKings) — Pendrith has missed back-to-back cuts but the numbers really haven’t been that bad. If he can get off to a good start and gain some confidence, the memories of last year’s second-place finish here will come back and the SG/vibes will be through the roof. Love the Canadian as a sneaky mid-tier play this week and certainly love these top-10 odds.
Lack: Byeong Hun An (+400, DraftKings) — I love the way that Byeong Hun An is playing right now, and I would not be the least bit surprised to see him in the mix this week in Detroit. An struggled last week at the Travelers after gaining over 1.5 strokes off the tee in five straight starts and 1.5 strokes on approach in three straight starts, but I have reason to believe that he will bounce back at a golf course better suited for his game. An already has a 13th-place finish to his name at Detroit Golf Club, and he remains one of the best par five scorers and birdie-makers in this field.
Top-10 results from the Travelers Championship: Gehman: 1 for 1 (Brian Harman +500); Everybody else: 0 for 1
Top-10 results from this season: Gehman: 10 for 34 (up 11.1 units); Hennessey: 7 for 34 (up 8.95 units); Gdula: 9 for 34 (up 8.2 units); Lack: 7 for 24 (up 3.4 units); Mayo: 7 for 31 (up 0.7 units); Caddie: 8 for 34 (down 0.4 units); Powers: 4 for 34 (down 7.9 units)
Rocket Mortgage Classic picks 2023: One and Done
Gehman: Cameron Davis — I’ll plug my nose and click Davis’ name this week. It’s terrifying considering his T-33 finish last week snapped a streak of three straight missed cuts. He’s shown brilliance both last week and at the PGA Championship. Now he heads back to one of the better courses for him, earning a T-14 and win in his last two trips to Detroit Golf Club. I’m trying to survive this small-purse event without using any of my stars, saving them for the stretch run.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Emiliano Grillo. Sanderson Farms Championship: Sam Burns. Shriners: Taylor Montgomery. Zozo: Sungjae Im. CJ Cup: Matt Fitzpatrick. Bermuda: Denny McCarthy. Mayakoba: Viktor Hovland. Houston Open: Aaron Wise. RSM Classic: Brian Harman. Sentry TOC: Cameron Young. Sony Open: Hideki Matsuyama. American Express: Brian Harman. Farmers: Jason Day. AT&T Pebble Beach: Maverick McNealy. WMPO: Scottie Scheffler. Genesis: Justin Thomas. Honda: Sungjae Im. API: Rory McIlroy. Players: Jon Rahm. Valspar: Justin Rose. WGC-Match Play: Cameron Young. Valero: Rickie Fowler. Masters: Jordan Spieth. RBC Heritage: Collin Morikawa. Zurich: Kurt Kitayama. Mexico Open: Ben Martin. Wells Fargo: Viktor Hovland. Byron Nelson: K.H. Lee. PGA Championship: Xander Schauffele. Charles Schwab Challenge: Min Woo Lee. Memorial: Patrick Cantlay. RBC Canadian Open: Tyrrell Hatton. U.S. Open: Brooks Koepka. Travelers: Tony Finau.
Hennessey: Rickie Fowler — I won’t be able to get there on the short outright number, but I’d love some exposure on Rickie, who is playing such great, consistent golf.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Cam Davis. Sanderson Farms Championship: Denny McCarthy. Shriners: Emiliano Grillo. Zozo: Hideki Matsuyama. CJ Cup: Sungjae Im. Bermuda: Mark Hubbard. Mayakoba: Viktor Hovland. Houston Open: Jason Day. RSM Classic: Brendon Todd. Sentry TOC: Patrick Cantlay. Sony Open: Matt Kuchar. American Express: Brian Harman. Farmers: Will Zalatoris. AT&T Pebble Beach: Seamus Power. WMPO: Collin Morikawa. Genesis: Justin Thomas. Honda: Chris Kirk. API: Keith Mitchell. Players: Rory McIlroy. Valspar: Adam Hadwin. WGC-Match Play: Tyrrell Hatton. Valero: Nick Taylor. Masters: Scottie Scheffler. RBC Heritage: Jordan Spieth. Zurich: Sahith Theegala. Mexico Open: Gary Woodland. Wells Fargo: Xander Schauffele. Byron Nelson: Tyrrell Hatton. PGA Championship: Jon Rahm. Charles Schwab Challenge: Justin Rose. Memorial: Corey Conners. RBC Canadian Open: Tommy Fleetwood. U.S. Open: Max Homa. Travelers: Tom Kim.
Powers: Ludvig Aberg — Despite not having a top-20 finish yet in his PGA Tour career, the young Swede’s outright odds are 40-1 this week. He’s officially become too trendy but that doesn’t mean we can’t employ him in OAD.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Sahith Theegala. Sanderson Farms Championship: J.T. Poston. Shriners: Sungjae Im. Zozo: Hideki Matsuyama. CJ Cup: Tyrrell Hatton. Bermuda: Russell Knox. Mayakoba: Thomas Detry. Houston Open: Sepp Straka. RSM Classic: Davis Riley. Sentry TOC: Xander Schauffele. Sony Open: Gary Woodland. American Express: Cameron Young. Farmers: Taylor Montgomery. AT&T Pebble Beach: Maverick McNealy. WMPO: Sungjae Im. Genesis: Collin Morikawa. Honda: Chris Kirk. API: Will Zalatoris. Players: Patrick Cantlay. Valspar: Justin Suh. WGC-Match Play: Tom Kim. Valero: Matt Kuchar. Masters: Tony Finau. RBC Heritage: Rickie Fowler. Zurich: Robby Shelton. Mexico Open: Luke List. Wells Fargo: Viktor Hovland. Byron Nelson: Tom Hoge. PGA Championship: Brooks Koepka. Charles Schwab Challenge: Tommy Fleetwood. Memorial: Shane Lowry. RBC Canadian Open: Justin Rose. U.S. Open: Dustin Johnson. Travelers: Tom Kim.
About our experts
Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. Mayo helped create the golf stats and research website Fantasy National along with the Race for the Mayo Cup One and Done contest. Mayo won the 2022 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and is a finalist for three FSWA Awards in 2023 (Best Podcast, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 27 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are second-most all-time. Follow him on Twitter: @ThePME.
Brandon Gdula, managing editor and analyst for NumberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @gdula13.
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.
Andy Lack is a PGA Tour writer and podcaster from New York City who now resides in Los Angeles. He hosts Inside Golf, a twice weekly podcast focused on the PGA Tour, betting, daily fantasy, golf course architecture, and interviews, as part of the BlueWire podcast network. As well as contributing to Golf Digest, Andy is also a data analyst and writer for RickRunGood.com, where he covers PGA Tour betting and daily fantasy. He came to Golf Digest’s betting panel after previously writing for Golf.com, the Score and GolfWRX. In his free time, Andy can likely be found on a golf course. Follow him on Twitter: @adplacksports