Detroit — This was supposed to be an ace of a year for professional golf in Michigan.
Now, it's starting to look more and more like a triple-bogey.
Detroit's Rocket Mortgage Classic, the state's lone PGA Tour stop, appears to be in serious jeopardy as the sports world continues to figure out how and when it'll hit the reboot button amid the global coronavirus pandemic.
Champions Tour and LPGA Tour tournaments in Michigan are on the clock to make a decision, too, with final verdicts not only deciding if fans will get to see their favorite stars up close and personal — but also whether several communities will be deprived of millions in charity dollars.
More and more sports cancellations well into the summer are popping up, Wimbledon, scheduled to run from late June through mid-July, was scrapped Wednesday. The Olympics, set for late July through early August, are off until 2021. MLB cancelled its London series, set for late June into July. College sports are done indefinitely.
Broader, the city of Toronto, the fourth-largest city by population in North America, has extended its ban on public gatherings until the end of June.
"That would really suck if we had to miss that," Brian Stuard, the Jackson native and Oakland alum who plays the PGA Tour, said of the Rocket Mortgage Classic, where he tied for fifth last year.
Well, there's a good chance it's going to suck.
The PGA Tour has cancelled or postponed its tournaments through mid-May. The Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas, from May 21-24, is the next tournament on the schedule that hasn't been called off, and the Rocket Mortgage Classic is set for the following week. The Irish Open, the popular European Tour tournament set for the same week as the Rocket, already has been postponed.
The Rocket Mortgage Classic was moved up a month this year, in what at the time was seen as a favorable move. It was done to accommodate the Olympics on the schedule; and now the Olympics are a no-go. (The change in schedule put the Rocket Mortgage Classic on the same weekend as IndyCar's stop on Belle Isle; IndyCar, so far, is idle until the Detroit Grand Prix.)
Detroit Golf Club continues to go ahead with its preparations for the tournament, said Derek Jacques, the club's chief operating officer. That includes the start of a $4.5-million clubhouse renovation.
PGA Tour and Champions Tour players have been given no recent updates on the tours' respective plans.
If the PGA Tour decides to call off more tournaments, it's doubtful the Rocket Mortgage Classic would be made up, given the Masters, PGA Championship and U.S. Open already are scheduled to be tacked on to the end of the season (the British Open is set to be cancelled Thursday, according to reports), and the PGA Tour runs a wraparound schedule — meaning next season starts in the fall, and the break is very minimal.
That would cost Detroit a banner sporting event, one that drew tens of thousands last year in its inaugural running, as well as more than $1 million in charity dollars for local organizations.
Jason Langwell, tournament director for the Rocket Mortgage Classic, and Quicken Loans, the title sponsor, didn't respond to messages for comment from The Detroit News.
Earlier this year, tournament officials said they were monitoring the situation, but that was before a slew of additional sports cancellations cropped up.
The Champions Tour, the 50-and-older-circuit, has a major, the Senior PGA, set for Benton Harbor from May 21-24. The Champions Tour already has rescheduled the following week's tournament, so that could be an indicator. The Senior PGA could theoretically be made up on the back end of the schedule, given the Champions Tour doesn't have a wraparound season. Being a major, the makeup priority is high.
The Champions Tour has a non-major event in Grand Blanc from July 31-Aug. 2, the Ally Challenge, and that seems safe, for now.
As for the LPGA Tour, it also has two stops in Michigan in 2020, the Meijer LPGA Classic near Grand Rapids from June 11-14, and the two-person team event at the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational in Midland from July 15-18. So far, the LPGA Tour has postponed all tournaments through the end of April.
The biggest hurdle in restarting sports, entertainment and, basically, the world is nobody knows how long the crisis will stay critical. Plus, nobody knows how, when things are opened back up, the public will feel about being around crowds.
The federal government is recommending continued social-distancing through the end of April. The state of Michigan's shelter-in-place order goes through at least the middle of April. Each timeline already has been extended at least once.
Scheduled state tournaments in 2020
Champions: May 21-24, Senior PGA Championship, Golf Club at Harbor Shores, Benton Harbor
PGA: May 28-31, Rocket Mortgage Classic, Detroit Golf Club
LPGA: June 11-14, Meijer LPGA Classic, Blythefield Country Club, Belmont
LPGA: July 15-18, Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational, Midland Country Club
Champions: July 31-Aug. 2, Ally Challenge, Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club, Grand Blanc