Rocket Mortgage Classic: Lift off with Stallings

American Scott Stallings
Scott Stallings can challenge for victory this week
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Dave Tindall is back to preview the Rocket Mortgage Classic and has three each-way selections for the action at Detroit Golf Club...

"The American stepped up from T48 at Hilton Head with T6 at the Travelers last week and improved his performance across the board when taking a closer look at his stats."

Main Bet: Scott Stallings each-way @ 80/1

Tournaments with just one year of course form always take on an added degree of difficultly and this week's challenge is made even harder when factoring in the lack of crowds and the unsettling possibility of a positive COVID-19 test.

Last year's inaugural edition produced a six-shot win for Nate Lashley over Doc Redman which was real needle-in-a-haystack stuff for punters.

Lashley, not surprisingly given the margin of victory, was excellent all round when shooting 25-under, ranking third in SG: Tee To Green and second in SG: Putting.

Widening the search a little and it could be helpful to note how the top 10 finished in the main Strokes Gained categories. The average rankings of those top 10 are listed below:

Off The Tee: 31.1
Approach: 21.2
Tee To Green: 17.0
Around The Green: 21.3
Putting: 15.4

Putting comes out on top while it seemed you didn't have to be excellent off the tee although that could change a little this year with the rough reported to be up. However, it's fair to note that a balanced attack was needed and, as these averages were very rarely skewed by a poor performance in one area, I'm looking for players this week who appear solid in all departments. I may just lean a little on putting though.

One candidate who seems to have his whole game going in the right direction is Scott Stallings.

The American stepped up from T48 at Hilton Head with T6 at the Travelers last week and improved his performance across the board when taking a closer look at his stats.

Stallings ranked 10th for both Tee To Green (6.922) and Approach (4.667), 14th Around The Green and 21st for Putting.

We're on his favoured Poa Annua greens this week and they're smaller than average so there's an obvious correlation with Torrey Pines where he's had some of his finest hours.

That included a win in 2014 while he also landed the 2012 True South Classic (now the Sanderson Farms) with 24-under to show he could come out on top in a birdie-fest. His ranking of 9th for Eagles this season is encouraging given that we have four par fives to go at this week.

The 35-year-old's first PGA Tour victory came at the Greenbrier and, although the evidence is early, there's some correlation in form at the Old White and here too.

After a real health drive and loss of weight, Stallings must have been delighted to have seen some results at the Travelers and I'll back him to continue his progress here.

He played in last year's event and opened with a six-under 66 before fading away but those four rounds would have gone in the memory bank.

It's a weaker field than last week where he cracked the top six so I'm playing at 80/1.

Next Best: Kevin Na each-way @ 30/1

kevin Na winning at colonial.jpg

Looking at the front end of the market, it's easy to make a strong case for Bryson DeChambeau now that he has a 7,200+ golf course to go at.

He's not finished worse than T8 in the three June comeback events and his putting figures were much better last week so all the signs are there.

But, then again, so they should be for a 6/1 shot and I'm happy to let him win at that price.

Webb Simpson has two wins in his last four PGA Tour starts so is arguably a better bet at 11s but again you'd have to be very sure at those odds.

The trio of 14/1 shots - Hideki Matsuyama (MC at Heritage in only June start), Patrick Reed (I think he's missing crowds more than most) and Tyrrell Hatton (he's great but the handicapper really has got him) - don't appeal.

So, where to look? Well, I can't pretend he's the greatest price but Kevin Na absolutely fits the bill this week so I can't ignore him at 30s.

If you want a very simple justification he's won three of his last 42 events so this isn't the non-winning Kevin Na of old.

Those triumphs came at the Greenbrier (correlating course klaxon) with 19-under, at the Charles Schwab with -13-under and at the Shriners with 23-under (birdie-fest klaxon).

The good thing about Na is that he picks and chooses his venues based on where he thinks he can push for the title and this one very much looks in his ball-park.

A back issue hampered him at Colonial but the physios must have done a good job at last week's Travelers where he posted tied fifth after laps of 66-66-65-67.

When the putter gets hot, he really rolls them in and Na ranked 6th for SGP (5.629), similar figures to the WGC-Mexico Championship three starts earlier where he was T9 in a far superior field.

Also 24th SG: Tee To Green and no worse than 34th in any of the main SG categories, Na was solid across the board and temperatures in the 90s this week will certainly be good for an achy back.

Final Bet: Lanto Griffin each-way @ 100/1

Sticking with the same need-to-be-solid-everywhere formula takes me towards Lanto Griffin - the surprise winner of the Houston Open back in October.

But, then again, was it a huge shock? He was a Korn Ferry winner in both 2017 and 2019 and before his win he'd built up confidence with a run of 13-11-17-18.

The first two were at the Greenbrier (T13) and the Sanderson Farms (T11) so he's got some form at two of the courses already mentioned in a positive way with Stallings.

Griffin is getting his first look at Detroit Golf Club but he comes here on the up after sharpening up during the first three events the re-start.

His opening three laps were 77-73-76 which paved the way for two missed cuts but he closed with 67 at Hilton Head before bowing out and then fired 66-67-68-68 for the T24 at the Travelers.

Going through his stats at TPC River Highlands and they were positive for all the main Strokes Gained categories and very few could boast that.

Griffin was 18th for SG: Putting and is 42nd in that category on the season-long stats as well as a solid 88th Tee To Green.

Only two more players have made more birdies than him this season so he's used to scribbling circles on his card and, although already backed, I'll give him a whirl at 100/1.

Ryan Armour was my other one at a three-figure price while last week's surprise third place finisher Will Gordon could also go well again although 70s was too shot.

***

Get all the course and form guides for Detroit Golf Club here

Staked: £724
Returned: £516.26
P/L: -£207.74

2018/2019 P/L: -£338.25
2017/2018 P/L: +£362.84
2016/2017 P/L: +£1179.89

Dave Tindall,

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