PGA Tour Picks: Rocket Mortgage Classic

By Tom LaMarre

After winning the RBC Heritage two weeks ago, Webb Simpson didn’t get the chance to make it two in a row because he withdrew from the Travelers Championship out of a sense of caution after one of his relatives tested positive for the Coronavirus.

Fortunately, Simpson and his wife, Dowd, plus their five children tested negative and he will be back this week for the second edition of the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club.

“The last week has been a roller coaster of emotions,” Simpson said in a statement. “From the high of a great week in Hilton Head to the realities of Covid-19 and the impact it can have on a family.

“Thankfully, I am happy to report that the Simpson family has all tested negative for Covid-19. We appreciated the outpouring of support from fans, friends and family.”

Simpson’s caddie, Paul Tesori, also tested negative.

However, the bad news heading into the fourth tournament of the PGA Tour’s restart is that Dylan Frittelli of South Africa and Harris English have tested positive and withdrawn from the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

Frittelli and English, who have gone into self-isolation, after joining Nick Watney, Cameron Champ and Denny McCarthy as the PGA Tour players who have tested positive for Covid-19.

“While it’s disappointing to receive this news, as I feel healthy, I’m pleased that the new safety protocols we have in place worked this week,” English in a statement. “I fully supported the Tour’s new rule of not allowing anyone on the tournament grounds until testing negative, as protecting others in the field and everyone affiliated with the tournament and the community should be the No. 1 priority as a result of a positive test. I appreciate the Tour’s support and I look forward to competing again after I’m fully recovered.”

Said Frittelli: “I am experiencing no issues and feel great physically and was surprised and disappointed to learn of the positive test today.  I’m thankful for the WHOOP strap notification of a minor increase (0.3) in my respiratory rate overnight. However, I’m most thankful for the Tour’s assistance, procedures and protocols, which I will continue to follow during my self-isolation, so as to keep everyone safe. I look forward to getting back on Tour once it’s safe to do so.”

Each of the first three tournaments since the PGA Tour’s return have featured much of the top 10 in the World Golf Rankings, but only the sixth-ranked Simpson, seventh-ranked Patrick Reed and 10th-ranked Bryson DeChambeau are playing in the Rocket Mortgage Challenge.

However, there still is a strong field that also includes Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson, Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, Tyrrell Hatton of England, Jason Day of Australia, Sungjae Im of South Korea, Brendon Todd, Sebastian Munoz of Colombia, Brandt Snedeker, Tony Finau, Kevin Na, Victor Hovland of Norway and defending champion Nate Lashley.

At least as long as they keep passing their virus tests.


  1. Bryson DeChambeau, United States – Even though he has not won, the bulked-up DeChambeau might be the hottest player since the restart with three top-10 finishes and six in a row dating to before the shutdown. He has five PGA Tour victories, but hasn’t won since the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at the start of the 2018-19 season.
  2. Webb Simpson, United States – The 2012 U.S. Open champion missed the Travelers because of a Covid-19 scare in his family after claiming the seventh PGA Tour victory of his career and second this season in the RBC Heritage. Simpson has five top-10 finishes this season, including second in the RSM Classic, and leads the FedEx Cup standings.
  3. Tyrrell Hatton, England – After claiming his first PGA Tour victory in the Arnold Palmer Invitational in his last full tournament before the shutdown, Hatton returned with a tie for third in the RBC Heritage and has three straight top-10 finishes, and four in his five events this year. His worst finish was a tie for 14th in the WGC-HSBC Champions.
  4. Patrick Reed, United States – Had a tie for seventh in the RBC Heritage and a tie for 24th in the Travelers, closing with a 64, to rank fifth in the FedEx Cup standings and seventh in the world. Won the WGC-Mexico in February, his eighth PGA Tour victory, and has five top-10s this season. Tied for fifth in the Rocket Mortgage Classic last year.
  5. Viktor Hovland, Norway – Has finished in the top 25 in all three tournaments since the restart, including a tie for 11th last week in the Travelers after opening with a 63. Hovland has five top-25s this season, including his first PGA Tour victory in the Puerto Rico Open. Closed with a 64 to tie for 13th in the Rocket Mortgage Classic a year ago.
  6. Sungjae Im, South Korea – His best finish since the restart was a tie for 10th in the RBC Heritage, and he still ranks third in the FedEx Cup standings. Im has six top-10 results this year, including his first PGA Tour victory in the Honda Classic. He tied for 21st in the Rocket Mortgage Classic last year, falling out of the top 10 with a closing 72.
  7. Rickie Fowler, United States – Rickie has missed the cut in his two tournaments since the restart, but opened with a 67 in the RBC Heritage and figures to regain the form that took him to three top-10s early this year, including a tie for fifth in the Sentry TOC. Tied for 46th in Detroit last year, opening with 68-68, before playing the weekend in 72-71.
  8. Jason Day, Australia – Another player who figures to turn it around soon, Day managed only a tie for 46th in the Travelers despite four scores in the 60s. Finished fourth at Pebble Beach for his only top-10 finish this season, but Day has 12 victories on the PGA Tour, although the last came in the Wells Fargo Championship two years ago.
  9. Brendon Todd, United States – Held the lead going to the final round of the Travelers in search of his third victory this season, but stumbled to a 75 to finish in a tie for 11th. That came after he missed the cut in the first two tournaments after the restart, but he ranks fifth in the FedEx Cup standings thanks to those wins in Bermuda and Mayakoba.
  10. Kevin Na, United States – Finished fifth in the Travelers last week by posting four scores of 67 or better to finish three strokes back. That was Na’s seventh top-25 finish this season, including a win in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in October, and he seems to be headed for the Tour Championship at 14th in the FedEx Cup standings.

OTHER PLAYERS TO WATCH: Brandt Snedeker, United States; Rory Sabbatini, Slovakia; Branden Grace, South Africa; Brian Harman, United States; Rafa Cabrera Bello, Spain; Harold Varner III, United States; Hideki Matsuyama, Japan; Bubba Watson, United States; Tony Finau, United States.


  1. Will Gordon, United States – The 2019 SEC Player of the Year at Vanderbilt earned temporary PGA Tour membership by closing with 65 to finish T-3 in Travelers last week.
  2. Lanto Griffin, United States – Posted four scores in the 60s for a T-24 in the Travelers and is ninth in the FedEx Cup standings with three top-10s and 10 top-25s this season.
  3. Doc Redman, United States – Was second in the 2019 Rocket Mortgage Challenge by finishing with three straight 67s. Closed with 63 last week for T-11 in the Travelers.
  4. 4. Tom Hoge, United States – Played back to his early season form with three scores in the 60s, but closed with a 70 for a T-37 in the Travelers. Has three top-10s, six top-25s.
  5. Xin-Jun Zhang, China – Has six pro victories, including two on the Korn Ferry Tour last year, and was T-4 in the Houston Open and T-7 in the Safeway Open this season.

For first-round tee times, visit

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