Amid PGA Tour's altered schedule, Rocket Mortgage Classic loses Phil Mickelson

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Detroit — Lefty is out.

Phil Mickelson, who had planned on playing in this year's Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club, now is not expected to come to town, but rather appears poised to play the following two weeks at back-to-back PGA Tour tournaments at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio.

Phil Mickelson

Mickelson, even at 50 still the second-biggest name on the PGA Tour behind Tiger Woods, had committed to the Rocket Mortgage Classic in January, two months before the global COVID-19 pandemic thew sports a serious curveball.

"As of right now, Phil's probably gonna play two in Ohio and not here," said Jason Langwell, tournament director for the RMC. "We remain hopeful he comes, but as of right now, he's not locked in."

The PGA Tour was dealt several tournament cancellations and schedule alterations amid the coronavirus outbreak, including pushing back the Rocket Mortgage Classic to July 2-5 — and most recently the cancellation of the John Deere Classic in Illinois, which was set for the week after the RMC.

With the John Deere cancellation, the PGA Tour quickly added a replacement tournament for July 9-12, to be played at Muirfield Village, which also will host the longstanding Memorial tournament the following week.

The new PGA Tour tournament is sponsored by Workday, for whom Mickelson long has been a pitchman.

Mickelson last played a sanctioned tournament in Michigan in 2008, when he finished tied for seventh at the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills. He played five times at the old Buick Open in Grand Blanc, with his best best finish a tie for fourth in 2000.

Among those who remain committed to the Rocket Mortgage Classic, which will be played with no fans, are Rickie Fowler, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed and Bubba Watson, with Dustin Johnson strongly considering a return, and Tony Finau a possible upcoming addition, among others.

Additional commitments announced by tournament officials Friday include Davis Love III, Vijay Singh, Sungjae Im and Matthew Wolff, among otehrs.

Langwell said he expects about half of the 156-player field to be returners from last year's inaugural event, and half to be new. The field will be evolving rapidly in the coming weeks, and mostly finalized by early evening June 26.

"I think we're going to have a fantastic field," Langwell said Friday.

The PGA Tour fields remain as fluid as ever, with players having to factor how much they need to play down the stretch to not only qualify for the super-rich FedEx Cup playoffs but also prepare for a new schedule of majors, while weighing that with how much they want to be away from home. Players in the past often traveled with their families, and they still can, but families aren't allowed at the golf course for now.

If there is any silver lining to losing Mickelson, it's that it won't cost the Rocket Mortgage Classic anything in ticket sales, given there will be no fans. The fact Mickelson originally committed also means he sees some positives in the Detroit tournament, meaning he's likely to play in future ye

The PGA Tour returned last week at Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and featured a star-studded leaderboard as players proved eager to get back into the competition. The PGA Tour is in South Carolina this week and Connecticut next week, before shifting to Detroit. The first five tournaments are being played without fans.


Rocket Mortgage Classic

When: July 2-5

Where: Detroit Golf Club

Defending champion: Nate Lashley

Tickets: None; the event will be held without fans


Twitter: @tonypaul1984