The Area 313 Celebrity Challenge kicks off events at the Rocket Mortgage Classic on Tuesday. The Detroit News
Detroit — Rickie Fowler and Kid Rock, it would seem, are developing a little bromance. They've spent time together in Florida in recent years, and on Tuesday they were teammates in the Rocket Mortgage Classic's celebrity shootout.
And Fowler, Detroit's adopted son as this week's unofficial tournament host, and Rock, Detroit's native son, will tee it up together again Wednesday in the pro-am portion of Detroit's inaugural PGA Tour tournament.
They will tee off at 7:20 a.m. Wednesday at Detroit Golf Club, alongside Bill Emerson, vice chairman of Quicken Loans and Rock Holdings, Inc.; Bob Walters, president and COO of Quicken Loans; and Jeff Eisenshtadt, CEO of Amrock, a subsidiary of Rock Ventures. Hey, being a title sponsor sure has its perks.
The majority of the 156-player field will participate in the pro-am, though only Fowler will be playing all 18 holes. Every other group will get one PGA Tour pro for the front nine, then another pro for the back nine.
The groups were announced Tuesday night, following a posh pairings party attended by many of Detroit's movers and shakers, including Jay Farner, Quicken Loans CEO.
The Fowler-Rock pairing will be the big draw, of course. (Tickets remain available at RocketMortgageClassic.com, starting at $25.)
Fowler is the fan favorite this week, and as a paid Rocket Mortgage pitchman, he's done everything the tournament could ask to promote this big week in Detroit. Meanwhile, Rock the rocker has become quite the golfer in recent years, even carding his first hole-in-one earlier this year (in the presence of Jack Nicklaus, no less). As his game has progressed, so has his wardrobe. He used to wear overalls, beer in hand, during his appearances at the old Buick Open pro-am, but went collared shirt and khaki shorts Tuesday. Asked why not go bold, he said there's always tomorrow. So stay tuned.
Pro-ams, a weekly staple on the PGA Tour, are a key component of the Tour's business model, as it's a reward for the sponsors who shell out big bucks during the week, and it brings out enough celebrity names to sell tickets.
Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo will be teeing off at 7:50 a.m., along with Arn Tellem, vice chairman of Palace Sports & Entertainment. Their pros will be Charles Howell III and Scott Brown.
The Red Wings will be represented heavily in one group, with Jimmy Howard, Danny DeKeyser and Mickey Redmond playing in the same group, at 12:50 p.m., with 2013 PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner and Kyle Stanley. Justin Abdelkader goes off at 2 p.m., in a group that includes 2016 PGA Championship winner Jimmy Walker and Max Homa, who won his first PGA Tour event earlier this year.
Lions Hall-of-Fame running back Barry Sanders plays at 8 a.m., and his pro partners will be Si Woo Kim and Nick Taylor.
Detroit Golf Club president Andy Glassberg will participate in the pro-am, a day before his maintenance workers have threatened to strike — on the tournament's opening day. Other notable names including in the pro-am list include Fox Sports Detroit broadcaster and former Tigers outfielder Craig Monroe, former Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis (who has consulted with Dan Gilbert and Co. on this week's tournament), and Michigan State trustee and millionaire developer Joel Ferguson.