Ben Coley looks to follow up last week's winner with six selections for the Rocket Mortgage Classic, none shorter than 60/1.
After three weeks of elite fields and familiar golf courses, there's a significant gear shift as the PGA Tour returns to Detroit for the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Where Colonial, the Heritage and the Travelers Championship all attracted every member of the world's top five, even if Brooks Koepka sensibly chose not to take up his engagement last week, this event has none of them. In fact, just five of the top 20 are set to tee off - all being well - in a tournament which represents a drop in grade.
He'd never admit it, but that should be music to the ears of Bryson DeChambeau, who has threatened in all three tournaments since the resumption and is now as short as 11/2 having been backed already. I absolutely get it. DeChambeau might well be on the cusp of the best golf of his life, and his strike-rate as a professional is very respectable already. It may be that we look back upon these weeks and months as the transition from good to great, and whether that is true or not he can steamroll any field should everything click.
The trouble is, he's now a single-figure price, on a golf course he does not know, and there remain areas of his game which need addressing. One is his chipping, long a source of great debate in the commentary box. The other is his distance control: had Lennie from Of Mice And Men been a golfer, I reckon he'd have suffered the same issues as DeChambeau did last week. He'll work it all out, but for now costly mistakes are almost guaranteed and taking short prices doesn't appeal.
With Webb Simpson arriving here after a stressful, draining fortnight, the likes of Patrick Reed, Tyrrell Hatton, Viktor Hovland and Hideki Matsuyama make more sense and this may not take all that much winning. Should any of this quartet produce the best bits of their golf from the last few months, chances are they'll land the place money at least as they contend down the stretch on Sunday.
Perhaps Hatton is still being underestimated now that he's playing the golf of his life, but backing him at 16/1 doesn't come easily and it's probably best to be somewhat cautious here. Not that we should rush to conclusions following the inaugural edition of this event last summer, but a runaway victory for 250/1 shot Nate Lashley, the last man into the field, tells us something. We are very likely in for another shootout, and that likely widens the lens when it comes to potential winners.
Detroit Golf Club was made to look easy last year not only by Lashley, who shot two rounds of 63 en route to 25-under, but by many in pursuit. That's largely because for all the trees that line the fairways of this Donald Ross classic, the fairways were wide, the rough was neither long nor thick, and players were able to throw short-iron approaches at small, sloping greens which in theory present the real challenge here.
It was not unexpected, but nor was it particularly desirable from a tournament organiser's point of view, and the talk in the run-up to take two is that the rough has been allowed to grow much more. I'd take that with a pinch of salt, personally, and with a bit of rain around recently we should probably expect the sort of soft conditions which have helped ease these PGA Tour professionals back into their comfort zone. Perhaps nobody will quite get to Lashley's number, but 20-under seems a decent winning target.
That is the only reason I'm leaving out Tony Finau, who stands out among that quintet of top-20 players at 33/1. He went off shorter for stronger events in the spring and isn't much bigger for the Masters, yet one missed cut at the Travelers sees him put up alongside an out-of-form Scottie Scheffler and a desperately struggling Rickie Fowler. It doesn't seem quite right to me.
Finau has broken 70 in nine of his 10 rounds since the restart, with 70 his worst score, and there's got to be a chance the heroics of Daniel Summerhays - friend, and brother of his coach - rub off on him somehow. The trouble is that while he can and does perform well across a wide variety of courses, if you asked me to pick the least suitable conditions for him I would probably say a shootout on a short one.
BRANDT SNEDEKER on the other hand is made for this, and while his overall form is a little patchy these days he looks well worth siding with at big prices when we know he likes the layout.
Snedeker was fifth here last year, giving the course rave reviews as he showed off his full repertoire on and around the greens. He went off a well-backed 28/1 shot and while you might think his price this week reflects a much stronger field, don't forget Dustin Johnson and US Open winner Gary Woodland were here a year ago along with Fowler, who was 14th in the world at the time.
In truth it's more to do with a downturn in form for the popular Nashville man, but it's really only consistency which is lacking. When he's on, such as when third at Torrey Pines and when placed in back-to-back FedEx Cup Playoff events, he remains a force to be reckoned with. And, with nine PGA Tour wins to his name, he certainly knows how to capitalise on the good weeks.
Crucially, they seem to come across a pretty small selection of courses, each with similarities. He went well on an old Harry Colt design in Canada last year, and at the PLAYERS; his last victory came at the Wyndham Championship, on a Ross-designed par 70, and his best efforts since have all been at places where we might reasonably have expected him to get competitive.
Last week's course isn't one of those he loves - he's contended once in 10 visits to River Highlands and never finished better than 10th - and while Harbour Town is, remember that was his comeback event. It's fair to give anyone a little leeway when it comes to playing poorly at one of the most fiddly courses there is, especially so when they've been away from three months and more focused on their son's golf game than their own.
Snedeker played reasonably last week, carding four rounds of par or better, and can step up now returned to a classic like this. His form at Ross courses includes wins at East Lake and Sedgefield, third at Plainfield and ninth at Pinehurst, and on his first visit here he played the final three rounds without making a bogey once he'd got his eye in.
I couldn't reasonably say anyone should expect Snedeker to contend this week, because he's just not that reliable these days. But what I will say is that if he does, nobody can claim to be surprised. This is just a perfect golf course for him and, now in his third start back, there's no hesitation in putting him up.
There was, on the other hand, just a little hesitation when it comes to siding with CHRISTIAN BEZUIDENHOUT, but he goes in the staking plan as well.
Any reluctance stems from my belief that it is very hard to bridge the gap between European and PGA Tours, but in fairness to this shy South African his form throughout 2020 - including when switching stateside in the spring - has remained excellent.
Bezuidenhout signed off in March with an opening 65 at Sawgrass, a quite brilliant round, and it was only the hiatus which halted his momentum as he missed the cut on his return at Colonial. That's his only blemish since he finished second in the Dubai Desert Classic, with each of the other six starts he's made resulting in top-30 finishes.
Not many make the move to the PGA Tour appear so straightforward and at 13th in strokes-gained approach and 14th in putting, already he's showing his new audience where his strengths are. A straight-ish driver of the ball who builds his score thereafter, his game is similar to those of Hatton and Simpson and to my eye looks ideal for this sort of challenge.
Bezuidenhout wasn't all that far behind those two when taking a step forward at the Heritage, where he putted beautifully once more on his first look at Harbour Town, and perhaps last year's Valderrama champion can plot his way around another tree-lined course here in Detroit. Once you factor in the drop in grade and a bit more shedding of rust, that effort at Hilton Head makes him a live player.
Branden Grace and Erik van Rooyen help form a strong South African attack even without Dylan Frittelli, but Bezuidenhout boasts the superior short-game and that really was key here a year ago.
Therein lies the concern with my next selection, but SI WOO KIM was such a big eye-catcher last week that I can't let him go unbacked.
Already popular, three-figure quotes should be mopped up in the hope that this enigmatic but hugely talented Korean can build on 11th place at River Highlands, where he was second in greens, 12th in birdies, and generally looked to be in excellent shape despite some issues with the putter.
Although he'd not done much in the weeks prior, Kim did sign off with a 65 to match Bezuidenhout's at the PLAYERS Championship in the spring and there have been enough signs lately that his work with Claude Harmon is beginning to pay off.
It may well be that Harmon can revive the player who flushed his way to victory at the Ross-designed Sedgefield and then dominated from the front at Sawgrass, another distinctly old-school layout which should serve as a nice pointer to this.
Last autumn, Kim again popped up at Sedgefield and for all that he has become unreliable, he does still pay his way by sticking around when he is on a going week. That wasn't the case when he missed the cut here but this relentless birdie-maker may just have turned a corner now, and he was the very first name on the shortlist as a result.
Remember, it was a return to form in Texas which immediately preceded his PLAYERS Championship victory, so perhaps that performance in the Travelers will prove as reliable a clue. This is a rare instance when missing the early show doesn't put me off as he's a difficult player to price, and one who is good enough to beat anyone on his day.
Next is HAROLD VARNER, who has been hitting his ball so well for so long that further chances to win appear inevitable.
It didn't work out for the popular 29-year-old at Colonial, where he was in front at halfway but ran into a brick wall on the greens over the weekend. Still, he spoke positively there, about how he now feels ready to add to his victory in the Australian PGA, and it'll serve him well in time.
Given the focus on him in Texas, as Black Lives Matter protests took place across the world, Varner handled himself superbly. And he can be forgiven for the missed cut which followed, as he left Colonial telling reporters the week had felt like a lifetime.
At the Travelers last week, he was back hitting the ball brilliantly again and while his short-game is more miss than hit, the chances he's creating will be rewarded if he can maintain the fluidity he showed on the greens throughout the first 36 holes of the Charles Schwab.
Raised in North Carolina, he's played a lot of golf on Ross-designed layouts but what really catches the eye is his record at Old White TPC in the Greenbrier, which appears to be the course he's most comfortable at. Last year, Lashley went from winning this to placing in West Virginia, Niemann did the reverse, and several others have form at both courses already.
Should a correlation between Old White and Detroit work out, it suggests Varner could be one to go well here.
There was promise even in last year's missed cut and he's improved since, while it's notable that for all his issues on the greens, he's putted well at Riviera, Torrey Pines and Pebble Beach this year. Throw in solid efforts with the flat stick at the Greenbrier and Liberty National, and there's hope these poa/bentgrass surfaces bring out his best.
Whether that's the case or not, ranking fifth and seventh in strokes-gained approach in two of his last three starts is really encouraging and he remains one to keep a very close eye on going forward.
Brian Harman can step up if cutting out the odd silly mistake, Adam Hadwin is a good statistical fit and Patton Kizzire will do for many after sixth place in Connecticut. All deserve a mention along with Wesley Bryan, who led the field in strokes-gained approach last week on just his second start back on the PGA Tour following a lengthy injury absence.
Bryan has already won at Harbour Town and for all he hits the odd absolute shocker off the tee, if he can get away with it - as he did for the most part at River Highlands - he has the ability to stack up birdies at short courses like this. I'm just a little wary of him bouncing; put another way, he's not exactly a player to trust and this may come too soon.
Instead, while two wins on the season for LANTO GRIFFIN would be a little surprising given his overall profile, he does look a nice fit for this at 125/1.
Griffin was one of the success stories of the fall, winning in Houston after four successive top-20 finishes and sitting third in FedEx Cup points over Christmas. He came out after with 13th and seventh across two events in Hawaii, added another top-10 at Pebble Beach, and was playing perfectly well before the lockdown.
Returning at Colonial, he shot rounds of 77 and 73 to suggest the break came at precisely the wrong time and set him back, but a second-round 67 at the Heritage caught the eye, and he followed it with 66-67-68-68 for a top-25 finish at the Travelers last week.
He's improved in all departments as the weeks have gone on, gaining strokes throughout the bag at River Highlands, and this excellent putter looks just the sort to get on a roll here and do some damage. It's his first look at the course but that's not a great concern, and if he can just sharpen up with his approach shots he can outperform his odds.
Finally, throw some loose change at 300/1 chance RICHY WERENSKI.
We're leaning on that Greenbrier link again here, as Werenski was second to Niemann there last September. But there is more to it: he has a blemish-free record at Sedgefield, where he was 10th on debut, and top-five finishes at Southwind and Mayakoba catch the eye, too - they would've been part of the case for Harris English had he not failed a coronavirus test.
Werenski grew up learning to play on a Ross-designed course and says he loves returning to them. It's no wonder, as for all that he's only 28, his game is distinctly old-fashioned, reliant on approach play and putting. Both have been solid lately, particularly the former, and he's good enough to do some damage at a big price having made his last four cuts dating back to 17th at the Honda Classic.
Posted at 2100 BST on 29/06/20
We are committed in our support of responsible gambling. Recommended bets are advised to over-18s and we strongly encourage readers to wager only what they can afford to lose.