Dustin Johnson tees off during his Friday round at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Nate Lashley won the tournament, going 25-under par.

Dustin Johnson tees off during his Friday round at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Nate Lashley won the tournament, going 25-under par.

Photo by Patricia O'Blenes


Rocket Mortgage Classic a ‘huge success’ in Detroit

By: Zachary Manning | C&G Newspapers | Published July 1, 2019

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 Rickie Fowler walks up the fairway as fans follow during his Friday round at the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club. Fans came out in droves to see the first PGA Tour event in Michigan since the Buick Open ended in 2009.

Rickie Fowler walks up the fairway as fans follow during his Friday round at the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club. Fans came out in droves to see the first PGA Tour event in Michigan since the Buick Open ended in 2009.

Photo by Patricia O'Blenes

DETROIT –– As the Rocket Mortgage Classic neared, Nate Lashley was still trying to earn his spot in the field.

He played in a qualifying tournament at The Orchards Golf Club the Monday before the tournament. He shot 4-under par and wasn’t one of the four to advance to the tournament. 

But hope wasn’t lost for Lashley. He became an alternate and waited for a chance to play.

“Not getting in through the Monday was a little disappointing,” Lashley said. “I feel like I played really well. I knew I still had an outside chance of getting in, and once I moved up to first alternate and found out that David Berganio wasn't going to play, I was just really happy. I was just excited to be in the golf tournament really.”

Lashley entered the tournament — which ran June 27-30 at Detroit Golf Club — as the last player in the field and was ranked No. 353 in the world, but that didn’t stop him from posting a score of 25-under par to win the tournament by six strokes.

From last man in to last man standing, Lashley collected a check for $1,314,000 and moved up to No. 101 in the world golf rankings.

“It's a career changing event getting a win out here,” Lashley said. “It gives you job security, it gets you into majors, you have two more years to basically get more comfortable and play better golf. So you really can't put into words how much this means and it's just huge for my career.”

Golfers give course, fans rave reviews

A lot of golfers in the field had never been to Detroit, so getting to experience a new city and new course was a unique part of the playing experience.

Many of the players knew they’d have to go low on the scorecard to be in contention. For them, the key was hitting fairways and managing the greens.

“I think just kind of mentally knowing that you have to make a bunch of birdies to move up the leaderboard and then kind of doing it,” said reigning U.S. Amateur champion Viktor Hovland, who finished T-13 at 15-under par. “If you don’t drive it very good out here, you’re not going to make a whole lot of birdies, because it’s hard to get it close.”

Outside of their play on the course, many players praised the energy of the crowd during the tournament.

“Nothing's quite sunk in yet, but the fans were just absolutely great, especially today to me, rooting me on,” Lashley said. “It was great having them on my side. It made it feel like I wasn't out there alone, and I'm just really thankful for how great they were to me today.”

Rocket Mortgage ambassador Rickie Fowler finished the tournament at 9-under par and tied for 46th place. Even with disappointing results, Fowler called the tournament a success and believes it will only get better.

“I mean, first year was a huge success here,” Fowler said. “Obviously strength of field is a nice thing to continue to get better, but I feel like as a first year being in Detroit, strength of field was great. We had a lot of good players here, some of the best players in the world, and I think you’re seeing the quality of top to bottom of what the PGA Tour is.”

Fans enjoy PGA Tour being back in Michigan

Fans came out in big numbers to witness the first PGA Tour event in the city of Detroit. The PGA Tour’s last stop in the state was the Buick Open in 2009.

While golf was the main attraction, Detroit Golf Club had many other amenities to attract the eye of visitors. Whether it be food and drinks, picking up some gear from the fan shop or taking swings for charity, the course tried to provide fun for every age group.

“It’s absolutely amazing. Detroit put on a great show,” Karen Thomas, of West Bloomfield, said. “Having a great time. The weather’s perfect, the venue’s perfect, the golfers are doing great, and it’s just a great relaxing day.”

“I’m having a blast,” James Hainstock of Detroit added. “The last tournament I went to was the PGA Championship when they had it at Oakland Hills, and that was 2008, so I haven’t had my golf itch scratched in 11 years, so it’s pretty cool.”

Golf may have been the biggest spectacle for the weekend, but it’s hard to miss the impact of a PGA tournament coming to the city of Detroit.

Fans and golfers both noted the impact a tournament like this can have on the city, charities and local businesses.

“I think it’s amazing,” Hainstock said. “Detroit always needs big, familiar faces that stop on by. It’s always good getting Detroit on the national scene, whether it’s national television or some of the marketing guys that have been out here.”

“For me, I mean, seeing what Rocket Mortgage and Quicken Loans, what they’re doing in the city of Detroit and surrounding areas, it’s great to be able to help out and see a real change in a city,” Fowler added.