Detroit vs. Minneapolis: How Rocket Mortgage Classic field compares to 3M Open
Detroit — Forget Detroit vs. Everybody.
This has been Detroit vs. Minneapolis.
In a battle of first-year PGA Tour tournaments, Detroit's Rocket Mortgage Classic and suburban Minneapolis' 3M Open have been waging a subtle, behind-the-scenes war, trying to secure the world's best golfers.
Last summer, the PGA Tour announced two new stops for the 2018-19 season, Detroit next week, and Minneapolis the following week.
And almost instantly, the recruiting war began, like Harbaugh vs. Dantonio.
The 3M Open in Blaine, Minn., long the site of a Champions Tour tournament, took the early lead on the trail, securing big names like Phil Mickelson, the modern-day Arnold Palmer; major-championship hoarder Brooks Koepka, this year's PGA Championship winner, U.S. Open runner-up and top-ranked player in the world; and Jason Day, the 18th-ranked player in the world and winner of the 2015 PGA Championship.
The Rocket Mortgage Classic, set for June 27-30 at Detroit Golf Club, countered with Rickie Fowler, a no-brainer given he's a Quicken Loans pitchman, and Dustin Johnson, who won the 2016 U.S. Open and who was the No. 1-ranked player in the world when he committed to Detroit, only to since be replaced by Koepka.
Minneapolis got No. 10 Bryson DeChambeau. Detroit got No. 12 Gary Woodland, who just happened to win the U.S. Open, and two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson.
Both got 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed.
Neither got Tiger Woods, the reigning Masters champion who announced after the U.S. Open that he was taking time off to spend time with family — making it very unlikely he will tee it up before next month's British Open.
Meanwhile, both continue to wait on BFFs Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas. The deadline to enter the Rocket Mortgage Classic is 5 p.m. Friday.
Securing a top-tier PGA Tour field is a tricky task, and it involves a lot more than just the tournament's location and the purse (Detroit's is $7.3 million, Minneapolis is $6.4 million). Players want events for the wives or significant others (Detroit has planned such a gala at Shinola Hotel in Detroit), plus events for the caddies (Harold Varner III, for instance, wanted assurances on this front before committing to Detroit). There also are other perks, some talked about (cars, etc.) and some not (under-the-table appearance fees).
The other big factor is where the tournament is on the schedule, and Minneapolis had the advantage there. Minneapolis is two weeks before the British Open, a spot on the calendar that usually appeals to PGA Tour pros prepping for the next major. Detroit, meanwhile, is three weeks out, often a rest week for the biggest of the big fish.
But that hasn't deterred Detroit organizers, including tournament executive director Jason Langwell, who has been to a half-dozen or more PGA Tour tournaments to recruit. And the hope is that there's still a big name or two to reel in.
In other words, Minneapolis, beware.