It's a week of unknowns as the PGA Tour is in Detroit for the brand new Rocket Mortgage Classic.
The inaugural event at Detroit Golf Club - a 7,340-yard, par-72 course designed by Donald Ross - makes for a difficult week of handicapping. There's no tournament history to draw from and projecting the winning score or the style of golf required to play well on the course becomes somewhat of a guessing game.
The only place to start is looking at other Ross-designed courses the PGA Tour has visited, both past, and present:
There are a few other courses that players believe resemble Detroit Golf Club, including Ridgewood Country Club, which played host to The Northern Trust in 2018.
Given the style of the venues above and the general design of most traditional courses built in the early 1900s, accuracy and shot-making will be at a premium compared to the bomb-and-gauge approach that most power players deploy.
He's the only one who threatens to run away with the tournament. In addition, Johnson frequently wins regular PGA Tour events, unlike Brooks Koepka, who was priced in the same 6-1 ballpark last week. Even with his ability to have the tournament wrapped up by Friday night, DJ is tough to back at such a short number.
As for the other guys at the top - Rickie Fowler (12-1), Hideki Matsuyama (12-1), and Gary Woodland (14-1) - it's tough to get excited about any of their prices. Fowler doesn't win nearly enough to justify his odds; Woodland is coming off the biggest win of his career; Matsuyama is in good form but a number closer to 20-1 would be much more interesting.
However, if you're only wanting to back a single player with less of a payoff than usual, Johnson is the play with Matsuyama a close second.
Odds for all of the players listed above 20-1 are suppressed because of the weaker field set to compete at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Still, there are plenty of names worthy of consideration.
When diving into golfers with success on Donald Ross courses, Billy Horschel (30-1) leaps off the page. He won at East Lake in 2014 and finished inside the top three in the final three FedEx Cup playoff events last year, where two were hosted at Ross designs, and Ridgewood resembles Detroit Golf Club, as noted above.
Jason Dufner (50-1) also carries solid value. Is Chez Reavie (25-1) really twice as likely to win this week as Dufner? No chance. Also, the difference between Dufner and Kevin Streelman (45-1) is non-existent, so you may as well back Dufner, who won the 2013 PGA Championship on a Ross design.
With Johnson a heavy favorite amid a field full of very average Tour players, there are numerous long shots with a chance. The Rocket Mortgage Classic could be the most wide open tournament of the year if DJ doesn't play well, especially at an unfamiliar course.
Luke List (80-1), Nick Watney (80-1), and Corey Conners (100-1) appear like good fits on paper. Watney won the 2011 AT&T National at Aronimink and has multiple high finishes at Ross designs in the past. List and Conners are cut from the same cloth as ball-strikers who struggle to putt on a weekly basis.
Max Homa (125-1) won the Wells Fargo Championship in May but isn't priced as a recent winner. Si Woo Kim (100-1) is inconsistent but could be one of the top-five talents in the field. Mackenzie Hughes (100-1), Russell Henley (100-1), and Austin Cook (125-1) are all winners on Tour who play better on tighter trackers where accuracy is a premium.
Billy Horschel (30-1)
Horschel's history on courses similar to Detroit Golf Club is simply too outstanding to pass up. Additionally, he's heading into the Rocket Mortgage Classic with four straight weeks of gaining four or more strokes gained: tee to green.
Jason Dufner (50-1)
Dufner finished T-7 at the Memorial and T-35 at the difficult Pebble Beach layout leading up to this week. He's gained over four strokes through approach shots in three of his last six events. The 42-year-old has plenty of history on similarly designed venues, including the 2013 PGA Championship at Oak Hill.
Luke List (80-1)
If List is ever going to win a PGA Tour title, it's going to come on a course like Detroit Golf Club. Aside from his T-6 result at this year's PGA Championship, the remainder of his high finishes on Tour were on tighter tracks that require fairways to be hit.
(Odds courtesy: Bodog)