After a nine-year hiatus, one of the most loyal and passionate fan bases in all of sports is back in the mix in a big way. The PGA TOUR has returned to Michigan.
The inaugural Rocket Mortgage Classic will be contested at Detroit Golf Club. It's just seven miles from downtown and within the city limits. It's the first time since Tiger Woods concluded the decades-long run of the Buick Open with his third victory in that tournament in 2009.
A field of 156 has assembled in Motown this week. Scroll past the projected contenders for details on the classic Donald Ross design that serves as host, what should define the first champion of the event and more.
Zack Sucher, Bubba Watson, Patrick Reed and Billy Horschel will be among the notables reviewed in Tuesday's Fantasy Insider.
After five years as the title sponsor of the Quicken Loans National held in the Mid-Atlantic, the mortgage lender has partnered with Detroit GC for four years and rebranded its event as the Rocket Mortgage Classic. While it's a first-time event, it's of value to note that the arrangement includes a transition from an invitational to an open. Competitive course and tournament records also will be established this week.
Detroit GC consists of two courses – the North and the South. The setup for the RMC is a stock par-72 composite that includes 17 holes from the North. The par-4 third hole is the exception. It plays at No. 1 on the South for members. The par-5 fourth hole for the tournament can tip at 635 yards. That’s equal to the second-longest hole on the TOUR. Only the 663-yard finisher at Kapalua is longer, but that's played downhill and on the side of a mountain.
Ross' creation is just over 100 years old and it's been renovated numerous times since he applied his seal of approval, but the only modifications made for the PGA TOUR affect overall length. With six new tee boxes, it can stretch to 7,340 yards.
The relatively tricky Poa greens will defend scoring similarly to TPC River Highlands last week. Likewise, they're readied to run up to 12 feet on the Stimpmeter and they're guarded by primary rough trimmed at four inches, so hitting greens in regulation is a priority as it will be challenging to hold slick surfaces from the thickest grass.
Trees frame sightlines tee to green and one-and-one-quarter-inch rough serves as the nearest sideboards for wayward drives. Four of the 10 par 4s tip at fewer than 400 yards, and with four par 5s, those in attendance will be cheering early and often for par breakers. When greens are unfamiliar as they are this week, good ball-strikers who profile as average putters tend to emerge as probable contenders. This angle is supported by putting surfaces that average only 5,150 square feet.
To maximize the spectator experience, the course opens in the middle of the back nine. This isn't unusual on a composite course for a new event, but the would-be champion will want to plan on having at least a one-stroke lead upon arrival at the 18th tee. At 455 yards, it's one of the longest par 4s on the property on which par will be a good score.
Wasting no time in joining the party, the RMC is included in The Open Qualifying Series. The top two, not otherwise exempt into The Open, inside the top eight at Detroit GC will earn tee times at Royal Portrush.
Mother Nature may have an impact on the launch. After a warm but dry opening round, the threat for inclement weather sits and stays in the forecast for the remainder. It'll remain muggy throughout with daytime highs climbing into the 80s. Wind will not be a factor.
ROB BOLTON’S SCHEDULE
PGATOUR.COM’s Fantasy Insider Rob Bolton recaps and previews every tournament from numerous angles. Look for his following contributions as scheduled.
TUESDAY*: Sleepers, Fantasy Insider
WEDNESDAY: One & Done, Champions One & Done
* - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, which also publishes on Tuesdays.