As the build up to this years final major, The Open Championship continues we have two cracking events to get our teeth in to this week with the inaugural Rocket Mortgage Classic on the PGA Tour and the Andalucia Masters on the European Tour.
Looking first at the Rocket Mortgage Classic and for the first time ever a PGA Tour event will be held in Detroit, as the tour heads to the Donald Ross designed course at Detroit Golf Club, a par 72 measuring 7334 yards.
The field is headed up by Dustin Johnson, Rocket Mortgage ambassador Rickie Fowler and newly crowned US Open Champion Gary Woodland where Paddy’s paying 8 places.
The latter is easily passed over. As big a talent as Woodland no doubt is, it would be a remarkable effort for him to get ‘straight back on the horse’ and win again on the back of his Pebble Beach heroics.
As for the other two marquee names, there is nothing in Rickie’s form on other Ross courses, or indeed his win ratio on tour, that would encourage me to back him at the odds. Similarly, while DJ is the most likely winner in the field, as I’ve said before, I am happy to swerve him at single-figure odds
Instead, I’ve a trio of players who have shown outstanding form on the distinctive characteristics of Donald Ross courses and who are all in great nick coming here. The first is Hideki Matsuyama @ 12/1.
The Japanese star has teed it up seven times on different Ross layouts since the start of 2015 and he has finished no worse than 15th on any of these occasions. That must give him a head start coming in to the week and if you couple this with his incredibly solid form this season – he has an outstanding chance of adding a sixth PGA victory to his CV.
Two other players who have consistently shone on Ross layouts over recent years are Billy Horschel @ 30/1 and Ryan Moore @ 28/1. Both like Matsuyama, have performed superbly at the Ross designed East Lake home of the Tour Championship, with Horschel memorably winning the whole Fedex shebang there. Moore also bagged his maiden PGA Tour title at the Ross designed Sedgefield CC.
Finally, I’ll finish my team for Detroit by including Nick Watney @ 80/1, another who has been playing solidly this year, and who has won on a Ross design before and young Chilean star Joaquin Niemann @ 40/1 who played fantastically last week at the Travelers and is sure to be winning soon on the tour.
Turning our attention to the European Tour and in contrast to the unknown of Detroit it is a return to the renowned Valderrama in Spain, a par 71 measuring 7000 yards. In a throw back to how golf courses should be, Valderrama serves up narrow fairways, tough to hit small greens and no respite. Basically anyone who wins at Valderrama has earnt it!
The player who has done most of the winning here of late is tournament host Sergio Garcia and if he was in any sort of form at all he would be hard to oppose, something, which is reflected in his odds.
Sergio, however, as he has admitted himself, is in no sort of form whatsoever, and on that basis I will warily pass him over. I will also pass by his fellow Spaniard Jon Rahm who to me is just not an ideal fit for here and instead side with the in-form Matt Fitzpatrick @ 9/1.
Fitzpatrick really should have won last weekend in Germany, before losing in a playoff and he is fancied to rebound on a course, which suits his precision tee-to-green game.
Scotsman Richie Ramsay @ 66/1 fits the bill as the second pick in a tournament where Paddy’s paying 7 places. Ramsay as befits one of the most accurate tee to green players on tour has a strong record here, has played some great stuff this year and is fancied to bounce back from a missed cut last week on a course, which is far more to his liking.