2021 Rocket Mortgage Classic Primer: History, TV, Field, Odds

Nate Lashley Wins Rocket Mortgage Classic
Nate Lashley tees off on the 18th hole during the final round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club on June 30, 2019 in Detroit, MI. Photo by Ben Jared/PGA TOUR via Getty Images

The PGA Tour makes its return to the Great Lakes State this week for the third edition of the Rocket Mortgage Classic, headlined by defending champion Bryson DeChambeau.

Joining DeChambeau as headliners this week at Detroit Golf Club will be three more top-20 ranked stars in Patrick Reed (No. 9), Webb Simpson (No. 15), and Hideki Matsuyama (No. 18).

Co-starring in the Motor City event will be Rocket Mortgage spokesman Rickie Fowler, alongside Americans Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Gary Woodland, Jason Kokrak, Will Zalatoris, and Matthew Wolff, among others.

Other familiar names include international stars such as Joaquin Niemann, Jason Day, Sungjae Im, and Garrick Higgo.

2021 Rocket Mortgage Classic

The Skinny

Tournament: Rocket Mortgage Classic
Tour Debut: 2019
Dates: July 1-4, 2021
Where: Detroit, Michigan
Course: Detroit Golf Club
Distance: Par 36-36-72, 7340 yards
Architect: Donald Ross
Format: Stroke-play, 72 holes/36-hole cut
Field: 154 players
Purse: $7,500,000
Winning Share: $1,350,000
Win Pts (FEC/OWGR): 500/48
TV Network: GOLF/CBS
Defending Champion: Bryson DeChambeau

How to Follow the Rocket Mortgage Classic

Bryson DeChambeau Wins Rocket Mortgage Classic
Bryson DeChambeau is interviewed after winning the Rocket Mortgage Classic on July 5, 2020 at the Detroit Golf Club in Detroit, Michigan. Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

TELEVISION: Thu-Fri: 3-6 p.m. (GOLF); Sat: 12:30-3 p.m. (GOLF), 3-6 p.m. (CBS); Sun: 1-3 p.m. (GOLF), 3-6 p.m. (CBS)

PGA TOUR LIVE: Thu-Fri: 6:45 a.m.-6 p.m. (Groups); Sat-Sun: 8:15 a.m.-3 p.m. (Groups), 3-6 p.m. (Holes)
Watch on Prime Video*

PGA TOUR RADIO: Thu-Fri: 12-6 p.m.; Sat-Sun: 1-6 p.m.
(PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.com/liveaudio)

LINKS: Links: Website | Facebook | Instagram

Tournament History

Golf legend Bobby Jones congratulates Horton Smith after Smith won the the inaugural Masters Tournament at Jones’ Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia on March 25, 1934. Credit: Getty Images

The Rocket Mortgage Classic might be lacking history, but the host venue, Detroit Golf Club, most definitely does not, which includes acting as the host venue for the 1941 Ryder Cup matches.

The Club itself has roots dating all the way back to 1899 and the North Course, where the event will mostly be contested (see Course section), is an original design of the legendary golf course architect Donald Ross, whose resume includes Pinehurst No. 2, East Lake, Oakland Hills, and Aronimink, among many others.

One of the Detroit Golf Club’s former club pros knows a few things about inaugural golf events. Horton Smith held the position from 1946 until 1963; the same Horton Smith who won the first ever Masters Tournament in 1934. Smith’s 32-win PGA Tour career also included a second Masters triumph in 1936.

The tournament also has roots going back to the Motor City Open, a PGA Tour event played at various clubs in and around Detroit for just under two decades.

The PGA Tour record for the longest sudden-death playoff was established at the 1949 Motor City Open when Cary Middlecoff and Lloyd Mangrum played 11 holes at Meadowbrook Country Club in Northville, Michigan. The stalemated lasted until darkness, and tournament officials, with their mutual consent, declared them co-winners.

Another oddity: In 1955, the Motor City Open was originally scheduled to be played at Meadowbrook again. This was abandoned, however, when Meadowbrook professional, Chick Harbert, won the PGA Championship in 1954. Meadowbrook petitioned for and won the opportunity to host the 1955 PGA Championship. Due to this development, the Motor City Open was not held in 1955. This is the only time that a defending champion of a major championship has hosted the tournament the following year.

In 2019, the inaugural Rocket Mortgage Classic replaced The National event on the PGA Tour schedule, which was played for 12 years in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, hosted by Tiger Woods.

The Course: Detroit Golf Club

A general view of the clubhouse entrance at Detroit Golf Club in Detroit, Michigan on June 24, 2019, ahead of the inaugural Rocket Mortgage Classic. Credit: CBS Detroit

Detroit Golf Club is comprised of two historic golf courses – the North and South – both designed by Donald Ross in the early 1900s.

To accommodate a PGA Tour event, however, tournament organizers, and club officials, have blended the championship tracks together in order to create one big PGA Tour venue with extra yardage, new pro-style tee boxes, additional sand hazards, rerouted holes, and ample room for the PGA Tour’s traveling circus (TV towers, stadium seating, galleries, concessions, hospitality tents, equipment/TV trucks, parking, and whatnot).

The newly-reconfigured Detroit Golf Club will play to a par 72 (36-36), while stretching 7,249 yards for the event. It will include the traditional four par-5s, four par-3s, and the 10 par-4s.

Rocket Mortgage Rewind

Bryson DeChambeau Wins Rocket Mortgage Classic
Bryson DeChambeau and caddie Tim Tucker celebrate on the 18th green after winning the Rocket Mortgage Classic on July 5, 2020 at the Detroit Golf Club in Detroit, Michigan. Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Bryson DeChambeau shot a final-round 65 to claim his first victory of the 2020 season at the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

DeChambeau finished his final day at Detroit Golf Club offsetting a single bogey with eight birdies, highlighted by a hat trick on Nos. 16-18, to finish 23-under par, three shots clear of Matthew Wolff (71).

The win was DeChambeau’s sixth career PGA Tour title, all coming since 2017 – less than four seasons.

For the win, the then 26-year old star earned $1,350,000 and 500 FedExCup points. He also secured 48 first-place OWGR points to move up to No. 7 in the world rankings.

Final Top 5

Pos-Player-To Par (Final Rd)
1. Bryson DeChambeau -23 (-7)
2. Matthew Wolff -20 (-1)
3. Kevin Kisner -18 (-6)
4. Danny Willett -16 (-6)
4. Adam Hadwin -16 (-5)
4. Tyrrell Hatton -16 (-4)
4. Ryan Armour -16 (E)

Rocket Mortgage Field

Rickie Fowler Webb Simpson
Rickie Fowler and Webb Simpson wait to hit on the 12th hole during the second round of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at TPC Summerlin on November 2, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Newly-minted PGA Championship winner Phil Mickelson will make his debut in Detroit, and first start in Michigan since 2008 (PGA Championship at Oakland Hills). He will be joined by

Reigning Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama will also play the Rocket Mortgage Classic for the third year in a row, giving the Detroit stop two of the four reigning major champs.

In total, 13 major champions are set to tee it up this week including Webb Simpson, Jason Day, Bubba Watson, and Gary Woodland.

Players in the Official World Golf Rankings’ top 10 include two more recent major winners: defending champ Bryson DeChambeau (6) and Patrick Reed (9).

FedExCup top-10 players include DeChambeau (4) and Jason Kokrak (10), both two-time winners this season.

Other marquee names include Rickie Fowler, Will Zalatoris, and Garrick Higgo, among others.

Top-5 Betting Favorites

1. Bryson DeChambeau (7-1)
2. Patrick Reed (14-1)
3. Hideki Matsuyama (16-1)
3. Webb Simpson (16-1)
5. Will Zalatoris (22-1)

Related: 2021 Rocket Mortgage Classic Power Rankings

Full Field & Odds

Detroit Golf Club . Detroit, MI . July 1-4, 2021

Carey Hoffman contributed to this preview.
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