DFS Golf: UpNorth’s PGA Preview – Rocket Mortgage Classic

For the first time since 2009, the PGA Tour heads back to Michigan as Detroit Golf Club hosts the Rocket Mortgage Classic! 

My name is Josh Thomas, and I am a PGA and NFL Coach here at DFS Army! Welcome to the 2019 PGA Season! We here at DFS Army have got you covered this year for DFS golf with my weekly preview out on Sunday Nights, Chalk Donkey article breaking down the ownership projections, where to pivot, and GPP strategy out Tuesday Nights, and our Research Station that is full of more information than you could ever need!

Chez! What a win! Powered by a clutch 3rd round where he made just about every putt he looked at, he clutched up on Sunday and played solid golf all the way to the end for his first win since 2008! It was a weird week. Keegan Bradley learned how to putt. Justin Thomas forgot how to putt. And Brooks Koepka looked human. Overall, a fun week with maybe not the biggest names contending, but interesting stories none the less, and it feels like we might be seeing Bryson DeChambeau come back into form heading into the Open Championship where he is likely to present a pretty good value.

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This week the tour heads back to Michigan for the first time since 2009 for the Rocket Mortgage Classic, a new event that is taking the place of the Quicken Loans National in the PGA tour schedule and is being held at Detroit Golf Club. Detroit Golf Club is hosting it’s first major event since the 1992 US Mid-Am and looks to be in great shape, but there is a cloud hanging over the club as the groundskeepers are threatening to strike come Thursday if they don’t have a contract settlement! Check out the story here —> Rocket Mortgage Classic Strike

Course Breakdown:

The Rocket Mortgage Classic will take place at Detroit Golf Club, a Donald Ross design on the north side of Detroit. Detroit Golf Club is home two separate courses, the North Course which is a par 72 that typically measures 6,936 yards, and the South Course, a short par 68 that measures 5,986 yards. For this event, the tour players will be playing 17 holes on the North Course and 1 hole from the South Course. The crew at Detroit Golf Club has lengthened some of the holes pretty significantly by building new tee boxes and it is supposed to be playing at 7390 yards, which makes it one of the longer courses players will play this year, and longest since 4 weeks ago at the Memorial.

The course has a nice mix of short and long holes and it has a pretty even split. 2 short par 3’s, 2 long ones. 4 super short par 4’s, 2 medium length par 4’s, and 4 long par 4’s. 2 short par 5’s that are reachable in two and 2 long par 5’s, which require a layup and evens the playing field for some of the shorter hitters. While there isn’t much water on the course, there is a pond in front of the green on the par 5 14th hole which is easily reachable in two for the longer hitters and should cause some havoc for players who try to go for it and hit a poor shot.

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The greens here and a mix of poa annua and bentgrass like most in the midwest and while they likely won’t be flowering and real bumpy, they won’t necessarily run true either. The big defense on these greens is the heavy undulation, something players who have played the last few events should be used to. Putting the ball in the proper spot on the green, particularly below the hole, will be key for those wanting to make birdies.

All of the greens are heavily guarded by bunkers with an average of four on each hole, there are also a number of strategically placed fairway bunkers that will come into play for the longer hitters, and may force them to hit three wood off some these tees, taking their power advantage out of their hands. Most of the holes are fairly straight forward though and don’t require a perfect tee shot with lots of wide landing zones. That being said, hitting the fairway will be absolutely key. This area has seen a TON of rain this spring, in fact, more than they have seen in years, and as such the rough is THICK. This will be some of the most penal rough players will see this year (if the PGA wants it to be penal and doesn’t cut it pre-tournament).

If players can hit the fairway they should be able to attack these greens, putting a premium on ballstriking this week. If they miss though they will likely be struggling to make par out of this difficult rough, or the fairway bunkers.

So how do we find out who is a good ball striker and a course fit for there?? Oh yeah in our research station which is for our DFS Army VIP’s only!

Overall, I think this is going to be a really fair test of golf, but not only that should be particularly taxing for the tour pros, I would imagine with the weather looking fairly nice this week, we could scores climb into the -20 range, if we had a bit more class in this field I would bet on it. Ballstrikers who can make birdies is the key here this week and as always someone who ends up getting hot with the putter.

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Key Stats: 

Key Stats to look for this week –  Birdies Gained, Short Par 5 Scoring, SG: Approach L25, SG: Off the Tee, Greens in Regulation %, Driving Accuracy %, Field Rank, and Projected Course Score.

You can find all of these key stats in our DFS Army research station accessible ONLY for our VIPs.

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The Field:

In this section, I’ll cover who is in the field this week, the odds, any pricing discrepancies, and a few of my favorite plays on first look!

While last week I was blown away at how strong the field was, this week, I’m blown away at how week it is. I know he just won, but Chez Reavie is the fifth highest priced player on the board! Joaquin Niemann has ONE top ten on the year and is 40-1! It’s crazy how weak this field is and I’m struggling to get excited for the betting market. Now DFS is a different story as weeks like this where we have a new course and a field that isn’t very strong are a bonanza for good players who are willing to put in the time and research.

Dustin Johnson leads the way here at 6-1 and even that might be a little long given the field. He’s clearly the class and on their best days maybe only Rickie Fowler or Hideki Matsuyama have a chance to beat him. Speaking of Hideki, I think this course sets up similarly to Firestone CC, former home of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, a course that Deki has won at. I think he’s interesting here and even though the price is short I might take a stab.

Billy Horschel has been playing some great golf and is interesting at a course that likely requires players to be good ball strikers. Over the last 5 events, he’s gained strokes in every category on average and has only had three negative strokes gained stats in those five tournaments (Lost strokes putting at Heritage and Charles Schwab and Around the Green at Memorial) so his game is clearly trending in the right direction. He’s also played pretty well over the years at the Wyndham Championship which is played at another Donald Ross design and a comp course.

Sungjae Im is a great DFS play because he continues to just score well every event, but I’m not sure he’s ready to win yet on the PGA Tour, he’ll likely pop at some point, but I kind of like him next week at the 3M Championship more than here.

If this event happend last week, Jason Kokrak would be 30-1 in this field. One missed cut and an extraordinarily bad putting performance and he’s now 60-1. It screams value to me, but maybe more so as a low owned GPP pivot in DFS. The back half of this field is littered with great ball strikers like Corey Conners, JJ Spaun, and Peter Malnati who are all worth a look in this weak field.

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Finally, deep down the board guys like Hank Lebioda, Wyndham Clark, and Peter Malnati all make quite a bit of sense here and while maybe not to bet, solid DFS plays.

Beat the Bookie Betting Card:

Something new I’m adding each week to this article is my personal betting card for the week for Outrights, First Round Leaders, Top 5’s and Top 10’s. The real bread and butter with golf betting is a tournament and round matchups but I’m saving those for our Beat the Bookie VIPs!

As a rule, I typically don’t bet many outrights under +3500 unless its an extremely weak field (DJ at the FedEx St. Jude last year comes to mind) It’s just not a +EV most weeks when you think about 156 guys teeing it up. Hitting 3-4 outrights a year is a fantastic year for most golf bettors. The return on investment of hitting an outright at 50-1 can pay for a long dry spell (which is fairly typical in golf betting if you are only playing Outrights, FRLs, and T5/T10).

I just can’t lay off Hideki Matsuyama up here. He’s really trending in the right direction and in this field he’s one of three class players in my opinion (the other two being DJ and Rickie). He’s actually gained strokes putting in four straight events and in five of the last 6. That’s something he hasn’t done since 2016, and during that stretch, he won twice. He’s due here and I love him in DFS and Betting this week.

I made the case for Billy Horschel above and I think that he makes a ton of sense here and even is a bit of value in this field at 30-1. He’s just been crushing it over the last few months and I expect something similar this week. He’s a great birdie maker and can get hot, which I think will benefit him on this course. He’s also a solid player from the rough if he gets a little wayward off the tee.

I think Jason Kokrak just presents too big of value at 60-1 to pass up this week. Again, if this event was last week before he missed the cut he’d be 30-1. His game has been trending downwards which is concerning but I think this course sets up well for him and I don’t think we see that sort of ridiculously poor putting performance from him again.

JJ Spaun is typically a guy I only target on the west coast, but his performance last week at the Travelers has me excited to jump on the bandwagon again. His irons are firing on all cylinders, gaining 5.9 strokes approach last week. He’s typically a player that gets hot and stays hot, so I’m willing to throw a dart here at 90-1.

Prior to his breakthrough win earlier this year, Corey Conners was the king of ballstriking. Since then he’s had a bit of a ‘hangover’ (and rightfully so) including missing the cut at the Canadian Open which likely gutted him. This is as close to a home game for him as it can get with his hometown of Listowell, Ontario a few hours north of the course. He’ll be familiar with the conditions and grasses at the very least and if Keegan can gain a ridiculous amount of strokes putting at a ‘home event’ last week, let’s hope Conners can too!

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And finally, on the back of a solid performance last week I’ll jump on Wyndham Clark at 150-1 for my last dart. If for some reason like last week, the stars don’t necessarily contend, I think we get a guy in this range for the winner and I like a breakthrough for Clark at some point this year. The former Oregon Duck tends to get hot and ride solid form and I think he builds on last week’s great performance, particularly off the tee and parlays that into a solid finish this week.

I’ll be playing T5 bets on Hideki Matsuyama and Billy Horschel when the odds come out and T10 bets on the rest. (T20 on Clark since he is so long in odds).

I’ll have Head to Head and full tournament matchups posted for our Beat the Bookie VIPs on Wednesday. And there are some reaaaaly juicy ones this week! These are truly where you can make your money in golf betting, while not as sexy or as big as an outright win, they are much more profitable.

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Final Thoughts: 

This is a fun week, at a brand new track and while the field isn’t great I think that actually puts us at an advantage. We will have content for you all through the week at DFS Army. Our research station and domination station optimizer will be updated on Tuesday and I will have my full Chalk Donkey article breaking down all the ownership and GPP strategy for our VIP’s on Wednesday afternoon! If you aren’t a VIP yet, use code UPNORTH for 20% off EVERY MONTH FOREVER!

Also, give me a follow on twitter @dfsupnorth as I’ll be posting updates there as well as useful retweets leading up to this weeks event!

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