ROCKET MORTGAGE CLASSIC: The PGA Tour makes its lone stop in Michigan this week for the Rocket Mortgage Classic, an event that has been very well supported by the local fan base since its inception five years ago despite fields that have generally been lacking in star power. That is the case again this year, as Tom Kim and Cameron Young are the only players teeing it up this week who are currently inside the top-25 of the World Golf Rankings, but that won’t stop the enthusiastic galleries who are surely hoping for another exciting finish from a tournament that has already seen two playoffs in its brief existence.

The city of Detroit has developed a bad reputation over the years due to rampant crime and government mismanagement, but there are pockets of beauty and civility inside the sprawling metropolis and this week’s venue, Detroit Country Club, is certainly one of those. A Donald Ross gem that was originally constructed over 100 years ago and has seen remarkably few architectural changes over the past century, Detroit GC has drawn rave reviews from players and has proven itself a worthy host. It’s not a particularly stern test for the modern Tour pro, but not every week has to be a grind for pars and there are certainly a couple of holes where players can stub their toe.

The course is a par-72 that tips out at 7,340 yards and features firm fairways and reachable par-5s, so length won’t be much of an issue this week, though big hitters have fared quite well here, with Tony Finau hoisting the trophy two years ago and U.S. Open champ Bryson DeChambeau getting the job done in 2020. Rickie Fowler outlasted Collin Morikawa and Adam Hadwin in a playoff last year for his first PGA Tour victory since 2019, and he’s back to defend but is currently trading at a whopping 70.0 on the BETDAQ Exchange due to poor recent form. One’s thing’s for sure this week– if you want to be in the mix, you’d better bring your birdies. Donald Ross layouts have a reputation for being fairly straightforward off the tee and Detroit GC in no exception, and the subtle sloping around the greens isn’t severe enough to provide adequate defense against the world’s best players. This is not Pinehurst No. 2. Still, it’s a fun little track that has the fast greens/long, lush rough combo that we love to see with these Northern summertime stops.

Tom Kim, fresh off a heartbreaker in Connecticut last week, heads BETDAQ’s Win Market at 16.0, followed by Cam Young (18.5) and Min Woo Lee (22.0). We’ve seen top-of-the-market types fare well here in the past, but we’ve also seen triple-digit longshots like Nate Lashley and Cam Davis triumph at Detroit GC, so this tournament has a fairly wide-open feel this week. With that in mind, here’s what I’m thinking:

WIN MARKET

Recommendations to BACK (odds in parenthesis)

Stephan Jaeger (32.0) Jaeger picked up his first career PGA Tour victory back in March at the Houston Open and has continued to play good golf over the past few months, logging four top-25 finishes in his last seven starts. A terrific ball-striker who ranks 16th on Tour in total driving and 26th in strokes gained tee-to-green, Jaeger is a birdie-making machine (4.12 birdies per round, 19th on Tour) who fares well on courses where you have to go low… courses like Detroit GC. It should come as no surprise, then, that he has an excellent record at this event which includes a 9th-place finish last year and a 5th-place showing in 2022, putting him at a combined 38-under par across his last 8 rounds here. Given his form lately and his record at Detroit GC, combined with the relative weakness of the field this week, Jaeger should be considered one of the favorites and is a nice value at better than 30/1.

Taylor Moore (60.0)- Moore has missed 3 of 4 cuts since his 12th-place finish at the PGA Championship, but he’s shown what he’s capable of this season with a runner-up and five top-25s, and he’s demonstrated great bounce-back ability throughout his career, so I do not expect his current struggled to last much longer. As a matter of fact, I think he’s likely to break out in a big way this week considering his history at this tournament. Moore has teed it up here just twice and has made a fat check both times, finishing 4th last year and 6th in 2022. He’s a combined 40-under in eight career rounds at Detroit GC, failing to break 70 just once. And remember– this is a guy who has spent plenty of time on leaderboards this year and was a whisker away from hoisting the trophy in Houston not even 3 months ago. He might be the best value on the board at a price like 60.0.

Miles Russell (930.0)- Miles Russell is 15 years old. If you don’t want to throw some spare change on him this week, I totally get it. However, I guarantee you this– if this is your first time reading his name, it won’t be the last. This kid is an absolute phenom, potentially the best junior player America has produced since some guy named Tiger. I could rattle off the list of junior and amateur tournaments he’s won and the records of Tiger’s he’s already broken, but they probably wouldn’t mean much to readers of this article. He received an exemption to a Korn Ferry event earlier this year and finished T20, becoming the youngest player to ever finish inside the top-25 at a PGA Tour-sanctioned event. Believe me– this is just the start for this kid. He’s from my area in Northeast Florida so I’m more familiar with him than most, and I can assure you that I’ll be backing him enthusiastically anytime he has one of these cartoonish prices next to his name. It might not happen for him this week, but it’s going to happen soon. Sooner than you think.


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