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Tony Paul: Rocket Mortgage Classic field is nearly set, lacks a huge star -- for now

Tony Paul, The Detroit News on

Published in Golf

DETROIT — For the inaugural Rocket Mortgage Classic, they got Dustin Johnson, who paused his hobnobbing at Kid Rock's place long enough to blow a tee shot out of bounds late in his round to miss the cut in 2019. The next year, there was Bryson DeChambeau, who turned Detroit Golf Club into a chip-and-putt en route to victory. Last year, Phil Mickelson thumbs-uped his way around Wayne County, taking a few minutes to play some golf when he wasn't tweeting his disdain toward the local media.

As of right now, there is no huge, huge name in the field for the fourth playing of Detroit's first and only PGA Tour stop, which runs July 28-31. But that's not to say it's not a strong field. Tournament officials, in fact, would argue it's the deepest yet — and frankly, they might just be right.

"The best Rocket Mortgage Classic that we've ever had," Jason Langwell, executive director of the tournament, predicted when talking to reporters last month.

When the action begins early next Thursday, July 28, in the shadows of Palmer Park, 156 players will be teeing it up. As of Wednesday morning, 152 of those spots were spoken for — 147 actual names, with another exemption going to the winner of the second-annual John Shippen invitational (which will be Saturday and Sunday at DGC), and four to Monday qualifiers from The Orchards in Washington Township.

That means four spots are still open for any PGA Tour players who make a last-second decision to swing into Michigan. That's entirely possible, given the Rocket Mortgage Classic is the final regular-season event before the start of the lucrative FedEx Cup playoffs the following week.

Anyone on the top 125 bubble will want to play Detroit (and is probably already committed), as will some guys higher in the standings who might want to improve their position. There's tons of money up top in the FedEx Cup race, which pays $18 million for first but seven figures for the top 10 and six figures from 11th to 125th ($950,000 down to $120,000). And there's always the chance a star or two might decide they needed a little tuneup before the playoffs start. Rocket Mortgage Classic officials had privately been holding out hope for this year's PGA Championship winner, Justin Thomas, even leading into the British Open, especially given his new sponsorship from Greyson Clothiers, which has a big presence in Detroit. Thomas has not committed to Detroit. At least, not yet.

 

Players have until Friday night to commit to the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Players have until 30 minutes after play is completed for the day at the 3M Championship in Minnesota to sign up for Detroit — hence the four open spaces. If nobody bites, the Rocket has a long list of alternates who can fill out the field.

As of today, the Rocket Mortgage Classic has six of the top 30 players in the world golf rankings, led by Patrick Cantlay, who's No. 4 — but carries easily the least star power in the world's top 10.

Cantlay is Detroit's only top-10 player at the moment. He's followed by No. 13 Will Zalatoris, No. 17 Tony Finau, No. 19 Cameron Young, No. 21 Max Homa and No. 27 Kevin Kisner.

Of the top 100 players in the world, Detroit has landed 29 of them.

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