Davis captures second RMC title off Bhatia 3-putt

Players making PGA Tour debuts hope smoke turns into fire

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Metro | Published July 1, 2024

 Cam Davis hoists the Rocket Mortgage Classic trophy for the second time in his career after finishing in first with a score of 18 under on June 30 at Detroit Golf Club.

Cam Davis hoists the Rocket Mortgage Classic trophy for the second time in his career after finishing in first with a score of 18 under on June 30 at Detroit Golf Club.

Photo provided by Rocket Mortgage Classic


DETROIT — The Rocket Mortgage Classic has its first two-time winner in only six years of existence.

It wasn’t how 2021 RMC winner Cam Davis drew up the tournament ending in his head; in fact, he said he felt 72 holes might not be enough to decide a winner on June 30 at Detroit Golf Club.

“It was a rollercoaster of emotions at the end there,” Davis said after the conclusion of the final round. “Honestly, I felt like I had done a pretty good job of really not knowing where I stood on the leaderboard. I felt like honestly so much, especially that back nine, just moment after moment of could-have-been awesome but just didn’t quite happen, I felt like it just wasn’t going to be my day. I was honestly very surprised that I was tied for the lead with the last group coming down 18. I guess I've been here before; I need to go get ready for another playoff.”

Akshay Bhatia, who led the Rocket Mortgage Classic after Thursday, Friday and Saturday, took to the 18th tee tied at 18 under, his least-successful round of the tournament at 1 under at that moment, and tied with Davis.

Bhatia, like most golfers during the final round, struggled with the Sunday conditions of wind, cooler temperatures and more rigid greens than the previous days.

None of it seemed to matter when Bhatia drilled his final tee shot 300 yards down the middle of the fairway and followed up with a well-executed second shot courtesy of his 7-iron to leave a 28-foot putt for birdie and a potential win.

Leaving his birdie opportunity short, Bhatia missed the 4-foot par save to earn his second bogey of the day — and second of the entire tournament — finishing runner-up to Davis and tied with Davis Thompson, Min Woo Lee and Aaron Rai, who was the 54-hole co-leader with Bhatia.

“It sucks, no other way to put it,” Bhatia said. “I mean, just sucks.”

As previously stated, the greens offered a little more of an aggressive look in the final round, and the 4-footer ran right and went just over the right side of the cup.

“Yeah, I mean, it’s hard, you’ve got so much slope there so you don't want to run it 5, 6 feet by,” Bhatia said. “Yeah, just a little bit of nerves, honestly. I’m human and yeah, the greens get slower throughout the day here, Poa annua’s pretty tough.”

Davis entered the final round trailing the leaders by one stroke and didn’t start things particularly well with a bogey on the first hole of the round.

The Australian right-hander birdied the third, fifth and seventh holes to put his front nine scorecard back on track.

Detroit Golf Club wasn’t kind to Davis, currently 40th in the FedExCup standings after the win, in his first two stints at the RMC in 2019 and 2020, missing the cut both times, but a pair of top-20 finishes and two titles since 2021 has shown the course opening its heart to the 29-year-old.

“The first couple years I played here I missed the cut and felt like this place just wasn't for me,” Davis said. “I love old-school design. Donald Ross golf courses to me visually are very fun, I love the greens, I love the way the fairways meander through the tree lines and I love the shapes of the bunkering. For some reason, I’ve never done well on a course like this before, and I don’t know what’s changed. Obviously, my game plan worked really well in 2021. I’m a different golfer and it’s a different game plan; the weather was completely different.”

On the amateur side, Luke Clanton, a rising junior at Florida State University, finished tied for 10th at 14 under alongside a slew of golfers including Nick Dunlap, who makes up two-thirds of the top-10 finishes for amateurs on the PGA TOUR this season with Clanton.

Clanton, 20, was in contention going into the final round after scoring a 7 under on day three, but finished even in the final round.

“I think the people I’ve surrounded myself with out here the last couple years have been a big help with that, because there’s a lot of doubt that goes in your mind sometimes,” Clanton said. “To be able to be out here and even say I’m in contention to win a PGA Tour event is pretty nuts. It’s pretty cool, man.”

Amateur and University of Virginia golfer Ben James, 21, also made the cut and finished tied for 44th at 8 under while 15-year-old Miles Russell, who captivated the RMC crowd early, missed the cut and finished the first two rounds at even par.

Russell fired up the crowd when he chipped in for birdie in the second round on 11, but he went through the trials and tribulations of a PGA Tour debut.

The Florida native will only be away from Michigan for a short time before competing in the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship golf tournament July 22-27 at Oakland Hills in Bloomfield Township.

“Detroit’s been awesome. I love Detroit,” Russell said. “Looking forward to a month and hopefully it’s a little better.”

The RMC is slated to return to Detroit Golf Club in 2025 from June 26 to 29.