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'Sorry, Mr. Ross': Low scoring expected again in Detroit, though wind, rough are X-factors


Tony Paul   | The Detroit News

Detroit — Bryson DeChambeau is all the buzz on the PGA Tour these days, having gained 50 pounds and routinely bombing drives 340 yards.

But some have been left to ponder how that kind of game will play this week at Detroit Golf Club, which isn't the longest course on the PGA Tour, and in typical Donald Ross fashion, typically requires precision off the tee more than distance — especially with the thicker rough this year.

DeChambeau has barely played the course, but already was dismissing such concerns Tuesday when he met with the media.

The driver clearly will remain his club of choice off the tee.

"I think there's a lot of bunkers that are around like 290, so hopefully I'll be able to clear those and take those out of play," DeChambeau said. "So, sorry, Mr. Ross, but, you know, it is what it is."

Nate Lashley lapped the field last year when he shot 25 under to win by six shots — a wire-to-wire winner.

But 44 other players finished at least double-digits under par. The cut line was a ridiculous 5 under par.

More: 'This could be the break he needed': Canton's Donnie Trosper to let it fly at RMC

Rocket Mortgage Classic officials have dismissed the notion that the course played too easy, saying, instead, that fans like birdies, and they want to give the fans what they want.

Still, the rough was seeded with a thickener, and it shows this year. Members have been complaining for weeks about lost balls, even shots that end up just off the green.

"I've heard the rough is long," Lashley said. "Which is fine. This course, you know, it should be kind of a premium on hitting the fairways, so if the rough is a penalty this week, that's probably the way it should be."

Aside from that, there are no major changes — PGA Tour officials are holding off until at least next year, if even then, to make major alterations. They want at least two years of ShotLink data before any major decisions on that front.

An X-factor, though, could be the weather. Last year's weather was perfect, with almost no wind to speak of. 

If the gusts come out this week, that could change everything, particularly on the approach shots to some very tricky greens.

"That's when you can make some bogeys in a hurry," Lashley said.

More: Defending champ Nate Lashley's life has changed, fondness for Detroit hasn't

DeChambeau, for one, hasn't been making a lot of bogeys, anywhere, anytime.

He's up to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, thanks to six consecutive top-10 finishes — three before the COVID-19 shutdown and three in the three tournaments since the restart.

Those results are much due to his driving. He's averaging 320.1 yards off the tee this year, which ranks second on the season. Those numbers have gone up since he bulked up during the break.

His driving accuracy is 61.3%, which ranks 109th on the PGA Tour. So there's a give and take there, not that DeChambeau is much concerned about that this week. They say putt for dough, drive for show (he's actually 23rd in shots gained in putting, but 104th in shots gained around the green), but DeChambeau makes it clear: He's proud of his distance.

"Being able to hit an 8-iron 195 yards is a pretty good asset, I'd say," he said. "So even though (this course possibly could limit) my driving capabilities, my irons are going to be a lot shorter going into the greens no matter what club I have in.

"Like the style of golf courses, it just seems to fit me. They're like country-club style. I grew up on Belmont Country Club (in Fresno, Calif.), which is very similar to that style of course, so I'm comfortable with it.

"I really enjoy those types of courses and I feel like I thrive on them, so this course is none the different."

COMPLETE ROCKET MORTGAGE CLASSIC COVERAGE

Rocket Mortgage Classic

When: Thursday-Sunday

Where: Detroit Golf Club

Defending champion: Nate Lashley

Notable players: Webb Simpson, Patrick Reed, Bryson DeChambeau, Tyrrell Hatton, Tony Finau, Sungjae Im, Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Kevin Na, Danny Willett, Kevin Kisner, Erik van Rooyen, Christian Bezuidenhout, Bubba Watson, Matt Wallace, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Brandt Snedeker, Jason Day, Steve Stricker, Padraig Harrington, Vijay Singh

TV: Thursday-Friday — Golf Channel, 3-6 p.m; Saturday-Sunday — Golf Channel, 1-3 p.m; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Wednesday: Bubba Watson, Jason Day, Harold Varner III and Wesley Bryan will play a nine-hole exhibition for charity, and it will air live on Golf Channel from 1-3 p.m.

Tickets: None; the event will be held without fans because of COVID-19.

Merchandise: RocketMortgageClassic.com

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984