Matt Charboneau and Tony Paul recap Round 1 of the Rocket Mortgage Classic on Thursday at Detroit Golf Club. Tony Paul, The Detroit News
Detroit — Here's a look at Thursday's highlights from Day 1 of the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club:
Shot of the day
It came early in the morning, and it came from the tournament's most popular player, Rickie Fowler. At the par-5 17th, his eighth hole of the day after starting on the back nine, he found trouble off the tee and had to lay up. No worries. From 122 yards, he jarred a wedge straight into the hole — it even damaged the hole, which needed to undergo some emergency surgery.
That got Fowler to 2 under and he finished with a 4-under 68, a fine start for the Rocket Mortgage pitchman and, as such, the tournament's unofficial host.
"That was a nice way to kind of have something happen," Fowler said.
Quote of the day
"It was a lot of bad shots and one good shot." — Dustin Johnson, never one to use too many words, when asked to describe his path to birdie at the par-5 17th hole.
His drive on the 17th was so far right, on the PGA Tour's ShotLink system, it was described as landing in "unknown." Fortunately for him, in the "unknown," a good 75 yards right of the fairway and in the rough, his path to the fairway and green was blocked by hospitality tents, affording him a free drop.
The free drop got him a little bit closer to the fairway, but was no picnic. He begged the hoard of fans to move back, one yelled out, "We trust you, DJ!" and he chuckled — and then he hit and clipped some trees. That left him in the right rough, nearly 200 yards away. He hit that shot just over the green, and then chipped in from 19 feet.
Johnson then rolled in a 10-footer for birdie at No. 18 to get under to red figures, at 71.
Hole of the day
There were many birdie holes out here today, as was expected to be the case.
No hole was torched more than the 560-yard, par-5 seventh hole, which played the easiest on the course, at more than a half-a-stroke under par. It coughed up more birdies (83) than pars (62), and there were only six bogeys and one double (sorry, Morgan Hoffmann).
There were four eagles, including one by Bubba Watson, who shot 68, and Charles Howell III, who is near the top of the leaderboard at 7-under 65.
Souvenir of the day
There are a whole lot of nifty options out here, though sadly, it's a lot of things that say Rocket Mortgage, and seemingly not as many that say Detroit.
Then there's Rickie Fowler's Puma hat, custom made for this week, that features four Velcro patches, depending on what you want your emblem to be that day.
The best one, no doubt, is the one that features a silhouette of the Detroit skyline. Another patch says Motor City Puma Golf.
The hat goes for about $40, and is available in multiple colors.
While two of the locals — Brian Stuard (66, Jackson) and Joey Garber (67, Petoskey) — really made themselves at home in Round 1, the two others with Michigan ties didn't.
Grand Rapids' Matt Harmon, the former Michigan State standout who's on the mini-tours these days, rallied on the back nine to at least get under par, with a 1-under 71.
But Glen Arbor PGA professional Lee Houtteman, at 57 the oldest player in the 156-player field, struggled to a 8-over 80, the worst score of the day.
Area 313 update
This will be the epicenter of the tournament this week, and it's especially intriguing because of a $313,000 charity payout (half to the player's charity of choice, and the other half to the tournament's) that will be triggered if, over the course of the four days, any player manages to go 3-1-3 on Nos. 14-16 — eagle at the par-5 14th, hole-in-one on the par-3 15th, and birdie on the par-4 16th.
So far, nobody's really threatening. There were four eagles on the 14th, but none of them birdied the 16th. And nobody aced the 15th.
J.J. Spaun came the closest at 15, hitting his tee shot to 11 inches.