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PGA Tour aims for mid-June reboot; Rocket Mortgage Classic prepares for 'any and all scenarios'

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Detroit — The Rocket Mortgage Classic still has its tee time on the PGA Tour schedule, but tournament officials acknowledged Monday they are preparing for "any and all scenarios."

Those scenarios could include outright cancellation or rescheduling, but playing it as scheduled at the end of May seems like a serious stretch as most of the sports world continues to push back its tentative restart times — and amid recent word that the PGA Tour is aiming for a mid-June reboot.

On Monday, the entire golf community, including the PGA Tour, the PGA of America, the United States Golf Association, the LPGA Tour and the R&A, announced some detailed plans to resume play, with the PGA Tour apparently hoping to return in June. The Rocket Mortgage Classic was scheduled for May 28-31 at Detroit Golf Club, and that technically remains the case.

Rickie Fowler was one of the headliners at the 2019 Rocket Mortgage Classic.

But Golf Digest reported earlier Monday that the PGA Tour plans to restart its season in mid-June, at the Memorial, Jack Nicklaus' popular Ohio tournament, without any fans present.

"Health and safety remain our top priority and we remain in very close contact with the Tour and local and state government on a daily basis," said Jason Langwell, tournament director for the Rocket Mortgage Classic. "We're doing that to prepare for any and all scenarios.

"That is the story. That is what's happening."

Langwell, asked if Detroit Golf Club was moving ahead with preparations, wouldn't comment at midday Monday, just as IndyCar's Detroit Grand Prix, on Belle Isle, was canceled Monday. The auto race was scheduled for the same weekend as the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

Detroit Golf Club officials didn't immediately return a message from The News on Monday. 

PGA Tour players hadn't been told of any more official regular-season cancellations as of Monday morning, pro Brian Stuard, a Jackson native and Oakland alum, said in a text to The News.

The PGA Tour has officially canceled all tournaments through mid-May, with the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas, from May 21-24 and then the Rocket Mortgage Classic next on the schedule. The PGA Tour already canceled or postponed nine tournaments, starting with The Players Championship in early March, with more likely to come, including a strong possibility of the Rocket Mortgage Classic. The European Tour's Irish Open, scheduled to be played opposite of the Rocket Mortgage Classic, has been canceled.

In its Monday announcement, though, the PGA Tour does leave open the possibility that as many as three regular-season tournaments could be rescheduled — into the weeks of June 18-21 (formerly U.S. Open week), July 16-19 (formerly British Open week) and July 30-Aug. 2 (formerly Olympics week). The Memorial, among the biggest non-majors in the game, could take the mid-June slot.

The golf world's entire major schedule has been turned on its head by the coronavirus crisis, with the R&A announcing the outright cancellation of the British Open on Monday. This marks the first time the event won't take place since World War II. Like with Wimbledon, the cancellation of the British Open was ordered, in large part, because of insurance reasons, Golf Digest reported.

The PGA Championship, which was scheduled for May, is moving to Aug. 6-9 at TPC Harding Park in California; the U.S. Open, set for June, is moving to Sept. 17-20 at Winged Foot in New York (that will allow additional lead-up days to hold its local and sectional qualifiers); and the Masters, set for April. is moving to Nov. 12-15 at Augusta in Georgia.

The Ryder Cup remains on track to be played Sept. 25-27 at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.

If it's canceled, the Rocket Mortgage Classic would be the second professional golf tournament in Michigan to get the ax, following the Senior PGA Championship, a major had been scheduled for mid-May in Benton Harbor. Champions Tour officials had hoped to be able to reschedule the Senior PGA for sometime later in the year, but couldn't find an ideal opening. The Senior PGA will be back in Benton Harbor in 2022.

The LPGA Tour's Meijer Classic, set for June 11-14 outside Grand Rapids, has been postponed, likely until sometime in late June.

The LPGA's Great Lakes Bay Invitational, scheduled for July 15-18 in Midland, remains on track for now, though tournament officials said Monday, "We continue to take the necessary steps to plan for any contingencies in coordination with the LPGA, its global health partners, and government officials."

The state's fifth major pro golf stop for 2020 is the Champions Tour's Ally Challenge, set for July 31-Aug. 2 in Grand Blanc.

The Rocket Mortgage Classic was a big hit in 2019, the first time a PGA Tour event ever was held within the city of Detroit. The tournament had a decent-name field, headlined by such stars as Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson, and drew tens of thousands of fans, selling out on the weekend. They saw birdies galore, with Nate Lashley winning at 25 under par.

The tournament also raised more than $1 million for local charities, including the First Tee of Greater Detroit and Detroit Golf Club's caddie scholarship program. (The axing of the Senior PGA cost Benton Harbor $200,000 in charity.)

It already was off to a good start for 2020, landing the second-biggest draw in golf, Phil Mickelson.

The PGA Tour was among the last pro-sports outlets to shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic. At The Players Championship in Florida in early March, it completed the first round and then announced the second round would be played in front of no fans, but eventually reversing course and cancelling the tournament, and eventually all events through mid-May.

It has pushed back its four-week FedEx Cup playoffs by one week, now ending the season Sept. 7. It said it will have announcements about the fall schedule, which is the start of the 2020-21 season, in coming days.

Scheduled state tournaments in 2020

Champions: May 21-24, Senior PGA Championship, Golf Club at Harbor Shores, Benton Harbor (CANCELED)

PGA: May 28-31, Rocket Mortgage Classic, Detroit Golf Club

LPGA: June 11-14, Meijer LPGA Classic, Blythefield Country Club, Belmont (POSTPONED)

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


Twitter: @tonypaul1984