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2022 Rocket Mortgage Classic First Round Leader Picks

Geoff Ulrich



The PGA Tour heads to Detroit this week for the fourth running of the Rocket Mortgage Classic. The setting has some similarities to last week in that it is again a flatter parkland setting. Detroit Golf Club is a very straightforward Donald Ross design that is pretty simple for the players. Twice the first-round leader at this venue has reached 9 under par after the first round (Nate Lashley in 2019 and Cam Davis in 2021). It is worth noting that two of the last three first-round leaders have gone on to win the event as well. The a.m. wave has also been the better heat for first-round leaders, as both Davis and Lashley were early starters and in 2020 two of the three first-round leaders came from the early wave as well.

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For 2022, the wind is expected to rise as the day goes on and the heat and lack of rain mean the course should only get firmer in the afternoon. Look to go heavy on the a.m. wave this week as a result. Using OddsShopper golf betting tools below, we’ll identify some of the best values on the board for the first-round leader market at the 2022 Rocket Mortgage Classic this week.

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2022 Detroit Rocket Mortgage Classic First Round Leader Bets

Best First Round Leader Picks

Denny McCarthy First Round Leader +5500 | Caesars

With a focus on early tee times and players who can get extremely hot with their irons/putter for a round or two, start off first-round leader bets this week with Denny McCarthy. The +5500 on offer is bigger than his outright number, and he’s been showcasing some extremely good play in all areas of the game of late. McCarthy has excelled at the other Donald Ross venue on the PGA Tour in Sedgefield (two top-10s there the past two years) and is a fast starter, ranking 15th in first-round scoring. The cherry on top is an early tee time, which has him out in the third grouping on Thursday and likely to avoid the worst wind and the firm greens.

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Russell Henley First Round Leader +6600 | BetMGM

If looking to make a wager on BetMGM this week, then Russell Henley is a first-round leader target to consider. For a limited time, you can get $200 FREE on BetMGM, and all you have to do is sign up.

Henley hasn’t done much of late, but he’s a fast starter and comes in ranked fourth in first-round scoring average in 2022. Henley’s latest downswing shouldn’t be too much of a problem, as he’s typically gone from playing poorly to playing extremely well in a flash. He’s also going out very early in the second group out on Thursday. This is a bet to be excited about, considering the +6600 price and the nice tee time on a player who loves to start fast.

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Longshot First Round Leader Picks

Michael Gligic +10000 | BetMGM

Michael Gligic has been playing very solid golf of late. It was just two starts ago that he shot a career-best 63 at the Barbasol, and he has been rolling it very well on the greens of late, gaining over two strokes putting in each of his last four PGA Tour starts. He opened with a 67 at Detroit Golf Club last season and is showing much better form coming into this event than he did last season. He’s got a nice 9 a.m. local start time and ranks top 40 in first-round leader scoring, making the 100-1 odds very attractive.

Kurt Kitayama +8000 | PointsBet

The boom-or-bust style of the first-round leader market sets up perfectly for Kurt Kitayama. Even though he is ranked outside the top 100 in Round 1 scoring, he has put in several low opening rounds already this season, including a 64 at the Honda Classic, which had him in the lead after Round 1. He does have an early-afternoon tee time, but getting some exposure to the other side of the draw with a player who has longer odds isn’t a terrible idea in case the wind stays down. Kitayama has also played well in wind in the past and is coming off a second-place finish in Scotland. He’s a favorite bet to target in the first-round leader market this week as well.

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Other Notables

Hayden Buckley First Round Leader +13000 | DraftKings

Chesson Hadley First Round Leader +11000 | FanDuel

Taylor Pendrith First Round Leader +7000 | DraftKings

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Rocket Mortgage Classic First Round Matchup Bets

Webb Simpson (+165) vs. Scott Stallings vs. Joohyung Kim | DraftKings

Webb Simpson is coming off two missed cuts in a row, but he loves Donald Ross courses and finished eighth at this event in 2020. The recent form doesn’t look great, but that’s driven him down in odds and made him a near equal favorite this week with Scott Stallings in a Round 1 three-ball. There’s no universe where Stallings and Simpson should be this close in odds, especially considering the course. Joohyung Kim also cooled off a bit last week, and Simpson has tended to dominate at these weaker-field events throughout his career. He’s been a fast starter in 2022 and makes for a great three-ball target in Round 1.

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