Original article published 17 October 2022
If last Sunday’s final round at the 3M Open wasn’t the greatest advertisement for the volatility of golf betting we are not sure what is. Where else can you get such value on a chasing pack with a legitimate chance of a payout?
Tony Finau sat five shots back of Scott Piercy with 10 holes to go and you could get somewhere between 5-7/1 at various times during the final round of the man who would go on to win by three!
As far as our 72-hole match ups… well we scored two from three thanks to Sungjae Im (T2) getting up over Hideki Matsuyama (WD) and Davis Riley (MC +2) besting Sahith Theegala (MC +4). We made the wrong call on Aussie Cam Davis (T16) who continued his good form to take down Maverick McNealy (T49) – although Mav was one behind with two holes to play only to finish bogey, quadruple bogey!
But that brings us to this week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic where Davis is the defending champion and we will pinpoint three more match ups from the Detroit Golf Club.
Stay tuned to see our analysis on Davis vs. Max Homa but also FedExCup champion Patrick Cantlay against last week’s winner Tony Finau and outstanding rookie Cameron Young vs. Will Zalatoris – two young men who are as close to a first time win on the PGA TOUR than any others.
Looking at the last three occasions the TOUR has visited Detroit Golf Club we can pull some key stats to keep an eye on when making any betting choices this week.
In Davis and Bryson DeChambeau (2020) length off the tee was a definite advantage in getting the win at Rocket Mortgage but with Nate Lashley (2019) this was not as imperative, instead the focus dropped on his iron play.
All three winners ranked inside the top five of Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green for the week and all three were inside the top 22 for Strokes Gained: Putting (DeChambeau was first, Lashley second on the greens).
Clearly, with the winning scores being so low, birdie average and Par Breakers are very relevant stats as players must have the ability to go low to contend in Detroit. The winning score has been 18, 23 and 25 under the last three seasons.
Driving distance has been an important stat for the winners, but mostly this comes out in Par 5 Performance. Davis was -12 on the par 5s to lead the field while DeChambeau (-11) and Lashley (-10) also made waves on those holes. As the last two editions have trended to a distance advantage, we will keep an eye on Stroked Gained: Off-the-Tee also.
As a side note, don’t be afraid of players who haven’t won before. Both Davis and Lashley claimed career first TOUR wins at Rocket Mortgage Classic.
The FedExCup champion Cantlay has had an impressive season with nine top 10s but his lone victory has come at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, a team event with Xander Schauffele. While Schauffele has gone on to gain individual glory also, Cantlay is yet to do so.
Cantlay’s last five starts have yielded no worse than a T14 but this is his first trip to Detroit Golf Club whereas his opponent here in Finau finished T53 in 2020 here. Finau is a last start winner at the 3M Open, his third career win and first this season. He now has four top four results in his last nine starts.
"I feel like I've been playing pretty consistent good golf and I've just been trying to do the same preparation, work on the same things the last couple months and hopefully it starts paying dividends soon," Cantlay said this week.
"I've had a lot more opportunities this year to win, which is both encouraging and disappointing. I would have liked to have closed out more of those tournaments, but that's how golf is. My game's in a really good spot. Like I said in some press earlier in the year, I've been trying to double down on the process that got me to where I am, not change a whole lot and just look for small incremental improvements and I think the consistent play I've had this year is a testament to that."
Key Stat Ranks (PGA TOUR)
Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green: Cantlay 26th, Finau 7th
Strokes Gained: Putting: Cantlay 19th, Finau 142nd
Stroked Gained: Off-the-Tee: Cantlay 19th, Finau 16th
Driving Distance: Cantlay 55th, Finau 50th
Par 5 Performance: Cantlay 1st, Finau 22nd
Birdie Average: Cantlay 4th, Finau 26th
Par Breakers: Cantlay 6th, Finau 28th
Looking across our key stats we notice Cantlay leads the TOUR in Par 5 Performance and is inside the top six in birdies and Par Breakers. He also has a HUGE advantage in Strokes Gained: Putting making him as close to a lock we’ve seen in recent times in this match up. Expect the FedExCup champ to knock Finau’s recency bias on the head.
Here we have two incredible players who have done everything but win on the TOUR this season. It would be fitting if one of these two were to be holding the trophy come Sunday afternoon in Detroit and there is a significant chance they could be.
While Young is on debut in Detroit, Zalatoris played last season for an uninspiring 77th place finish. But don’t let that affect your thinking. Instead savor what these two have produced this season.
Zalatoris has three runner up finishes amongst eight top 10s and has finished inside the top six on the leaderboard in six of his last 10 starts. One of those a runner up at the U.S. Open.
Young has four runner up finishes amongst six top 10s and has four top three finishes in his last seven starts including his second-place effort at The Open Championship at St. Andrews.
"I love the golf course," Zalatoris said in the lead up. "I've been really close to getting that first win, knocked on the door a bunch. Just got to keep doing what we're doing.
"My game's been feeling really good. I think everything has been really starting to click, especially after a week off. We had some really good work at home and fully rested coming up for a pretty good stretch of golf coming up. Looking forward to being a part of my first FedExCup Playoffs and hopefully making a nice run."
Key Stat Ranks (PGA TOUR)
Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green: Zalatoris 2nd, Young 21st
Strokes Gained: Putting: Zalatoris 120th, Young 60th
Stroked Gained: Off-the-Tee: Zalatoris 11th, Young 2nd
Driving Distance: Zalatoris 15th, Young 7th
Par 5 Performance: Zalatoris 33rd, Young 78th
Birdie Average: Zalatoris 17th, Young 9th
Par Breakers: Zalatoris 23rd, Young 8th
While Zalatoris is a clear stud and should be saluting the crowd sooner rather than later, the key stats lean towards Young being the man in this match up. In fact, we like him for the outright win. He bests Zalatoris in putting and is only fractionally behind him tee-to-green. If he takes care of the par fives this week, he may be unstoppable.
Homa is coming off a missed cut at The Open Championship but prior to his showing at St. Andrews the popular pro had a seven-start run that included a win and nothing worse than a T47. He has two wins this season and has two prior trips to the Rocket Mortgage Classic for T42 and T25 returns.
"I’m happy to be back. I really like this golf course. It's an old-school track… got to drive it straight. Get a bunch of funky putts. It's poa annua greens, which is home to me, so I enjoy coming here,” Homa said pre-tournament before revealing he has the added incentive of moving from his current 11th place on the FedExCup list to inside the Comcast Business Tour Top 10. (The top 10 during regular season get extra bonus payouts).
"I actually hadn't planned on playing these last three events after The Open, and then seeing where I was standing on the list, decided to add it to make a little push to hopefully sneak inside that Top-10 for the Comcast to get a bit of a boost going into the Playoffs to kind of chase down Scottie (Scheffler) and Cam (Smith)," Homa added.
"So felt like a really good fit to come back to a course I know and maybe grab a little momentum before Memphis. I felt like three weeks off at home, it's a billion degrees in Arizona, it would be better to practice on a great golf course and get ready to try to peak at the right time at the end of the season."
Davis missed the cut in Detroit on his first two attempts before winning the tournament last year in a playoff over Joaquin Niemann and Troy Merritt. He finished eagle, birdie in regulation to jump into extra holes. The young Australian has five top 10s this season, three coming in the last two months and his last three finishes read T16, 6, T8. His title defence comes at a good time form wise.
"It's been so cool. It's awesome walking around the golf course where we had so many defining moments of your career kind of all compressed into one event. I’m super stoked to be back. The course is firmer and faster and bouncier than ever and I love it, so yeah, can't wait to get started,” Davis said.
"Last time I played this event I came here after about a three-week break; my game wasn't in a very good spot. I went back home and took like two weeks off not touching a golf club and just tried to refresh everything and start again basically. This time I'm coming in with some decent form, everything's in a pretty good place. I'm hitting my driver a little further now so the course is a little different just off the tee.
"If I can hit the ball with my irons the same way as last time, that's all I could ask for. If that's in a good place, yeah, it should be good to go. It's not soft like last year… so that's going to play a little different."
Key Stat Ranks (PGA TOUR)
Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green: Homa 20th, Davis 72nd
Strokes Gained: Putting: Homa 41st, Davis 89th
Stroked Gained: Off-the-Tee: Homa 28th, Davis 68th
Driving Distance: Homa 53rd, Davis 41st
Par 5 Performance: Homa 8th, Davis 60th
Birdie Average: Homa 43rd, Davis 41st
Par Breakers: Homa 39th, Davis 35th
This is a classic case of head vs heart betting where recent form and success at the course scream Davis, as does the fact we were burned by not picking him a week ago. But the key stats give the nod to Homa so we are sticking with the head and taking the American. In each category Davis is ahead, Homa is mere fractions behind, but the same can’t be said the other way around.
OTHER MATCH UPS AVAILABLE
Adam Hadwin 10/11 vs. Denny McCarthy 10/11
Davis Riley 4/5 vs. Webb Simpson 1/1
Adam Scott 10/11 vs. Kevin Kisner 10/11
Cameron Tringale 1/1 vs. Keegan Bradley 4/5
Gary Woodland 10/11 vs. Si Woo Kim 10/11