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What better place for the PGA Tour pros to test drive a brand new, never-been-driven tournament than in the car capital, Detroit, Mich.?

Welcome to the Rocket Mortgage Classic being held this week at the Detroit Golf Club. The North Course (the other is the South, of course) is being used and both layouts are Donald Ross designs. The North is a par-72 layout and reaches more than 7,300 yards.

The Tour returns to Michigan for the first time since The Buick Open held its final event in the state in 2009. This new event, along with another debut event next week in the 3M Open scheduled for Minnesota, is a test the Tour needs to pass in a big way.

With new events, the question is always a simple one: Will the top-ranked players show up and draw fans out to the course and the event?

The early returns are in and the answer is a resounding yes — at least in Detroit. Start with U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland (12-1 odds). Add in world No. 2 Dustin Johnson (6-1) and crowd favorite Rickie Fowler (10-1) and you’ve got the makings of a star-studded field that includes no less than 11 of the top-30 in the world rankings.

That being said, everyone’s going to be on a pretty level field when it comes to playing this new-to-the-Tour course as not many pros have probably teed it up here.

Let’s face it, if Tour players have the choice of playing Pebble Beach, Augusta National or one of the other top-ranked courses (which they do), Detroit Golf Club probably isn’t going to be on the first page of their must-play list.

After this week? Who knows, that may just change in the winner’s mind. But, these guys aren’t here on vacation. Time is winding down in the hunt for FedEx Cup points and spots in the playoffs. With 500 points on the line, a victory boosts your stock way up whether you’re in the top 10 or battling for that No. 125 spot.

With that in mind look for a guy like Fowler, who’s 10th in FedEx Cup points, to make a big impact and possibly win his second event of the year. But that prediction comes with a little trepidation. Since his win at the Waste Management earlier this year it has been feast or famine for Fowler.

He’s got a runner-up finish and a third, but also has a MC (granted, it’s his only missed cut of the year) along with finishes outside the top 30 in the last two majors.

But playing here can be good news as the pressure will be dialed back and can let him freewheel it for the week knowing the talk won’t be about “The best player to have never won a major.” This also gives him a great shot to break another streak as he’s had just one season, 2015, where he has two victories. Will this be the second year?

Then there’s Woodland. That big gust of wind you may have felt a couple of weeks ago could easily have been Woodland exhaling after finally picking up a major victory in winning the U.S. Open. Now, it’s time to prove that he’s hitting his stride.

He’s won five times on the Tour, including once in 2018 (Waste Management). That victory snapped an almost five-year drought. Now that he’s won in back-to-back seasons, maybe it’s his time to showcase the talent that has gotten more than its share of rave reviews. 

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About the Author

Bill Bowman

Bill Bowman is a Las Vegas-based writer who has more than 40 years in the sports-writing business. He's spent the past 18-plus years covering the golf scene in Vegas including 10 years as a writer/editor with VegasGolfer Magazine. He also contributes to the GolfNow Network of websites and Las Vegas Golf Insider.

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