Rickie Fowler, the unofficial tournament host this week in Detroit, met the media Wednesday after playing 18 holes of golf with buddy and Detroiter Kid Rock. Tony Paul, The Detroit News
Detroit — Rickie Fowler said it's a "bummer" that Dan Gilbert won't be here this week, at the PGA Tour's inaugural Rocket Mortgage Classic that the Detroit billionaire booster first envisioned several years ago.
Gilbert suffered a stroke last month and continues to recover in an in-patient rehab facility, after a lengthy stay at Royal Oak's Beaumont Hospital last month.
Fowler is in his fourth year as a spokesman for Rocket Mortgage, a wing of Gilbert's mega-lending company Quicken Loans — and in such a role, Fowler is serving as this week's unofficial host, of sorts.
"This has been a dream of his for quite some time and all the work that he's put into, not just downtown, but the city as a whole," Fowler said. "So for him not to be able to here, yeah, it's a bummer.
"I wish he was able to see kind of what he's helped create."
Gilbert's Quicken Loans first got into business with the PGA Tour five years ago when it was the presenting sponsor for The National in Washington, D.C., and it added other charity ventures along the way.
The PGA Tour's understanding then was that Quicken would be a sponsor — which can cost as much as between $5 million and $10 million per tournament — as long as the end game was eventually bringing the PGA Tour to Detroit for the first time.
This week, it finally happens.
Last week, Fowler and his team sent a get-well video to Gilbert and offered, if Gilbert was up to it, to pay a visit this week. No word if that will happen.
"We would love to go see him, visit, say hi," said Fowler, 30, a five-time PGA Tour winner who is among the most popular men in golf, particularly among young fans.
While Gilbert, 57, will be on his mind, Fowler said he's confident Gilbert and his team will be proud of what's been accomplished this week.
Turnout is expected to be great, with more than 100,000 fans likely to visit during the week, with Saturday and Sunday sold out.
The national narrative about the city is expected to be overwhelmingly positive, too.
Fowler was downtown Monday, having a dinner at Shinola before taking in the fireworks.
"Just from the turnout, the guys that are here playing, the fans that will be here through the week, it will be cool for everyone to show their appreciation for (Gilbert) bringing a Tour event to Detroit," said Fowler, speaking after he played 18 holes in Wednesday's pro-am with his good buddy, Metro Detroit musician Kid Rock — a huge draw for the fans. "I'm happy to be a part of it, like I said, with everything that Dan and his companies, what they've done to help the city."