Bubba Watson, Jason Day to play exhibition to raise funds to end Detroit's digital divide

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Detroit — Last year's Rocket Mortgage Classic was voted one of the most fan-friendly stops on the PGA Tour, in large part because of its pre-tournament Area 313 celebrity shootout.

There will be no celebrities on the grounds of Detroit Golf Club this year — heck, there will barely be anybody besides golfers and caddies, because of all the COVID-19 precautions — but the shootout will return, albeit in a slightly altered form.

Bubba Watson during last year's Area 313 celebrity shootout.

Bubba Watson, who participated in last year's celebrity exhibition, this year will headline a nine-hole exhibition from 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesday, the day before the tournament gets underway.

Joining Watson will be former world No. 1 and PGA champion Jason Day, as well as Harold Varner III and Wesley Bryan. The foursome will play the back nine, which includes Area 313 (Nos. 14-16), with all the action being broadcast on Golf Channel and PGA Tour Live on PGATour.com.

The exhibition will help raise money for the Rocket Mortgage Classic's primary charity endeavor, eliminating Detroit's digital divide by the year 2025.

More: 'We're trying to give somebody a show': PGA Tour brings end to Michigan's sports shutdown

"It’s going to be a lot of fun to get out there Wednesday for a little hit and giggle with some friends to raise money for a great cause,” Watson said. “When I heard about what Rocket Mortgage and the tournament were doing to provide internet access to Detroit residents, I knew I wanted to get behind it and do what I could to help out. I hope the fans enjoy getting a little inside look at the banter we always have during a practice round and get behind the effort too by donating what they can.”

Before last year's tournament, Watson announced a $20,000 donation to Detroit youth programs.

Fans can donate to the "Changing the Course" initiative by texting AREA313 (243725). Rocket Mortgage Classic tournament officials have said they will match or even exceed last year's $1.1-million charitable donation, despite the lack of ticket revenue.

The 156-player tournament, featuring 18 of the world's top-50 ranked players, runs Thursday through Sunday.


Rocket Mortgage Classic

When: July 2-5

Where: Detroit Golf Club

Defending champion: Nate Lashley

Notable players: Webb Simpson, Patrick Reed, Bryson DeChambeau, Tyrrell Hatton, Tony Finau, Sungjae Im, Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Kevin Na, Danny Willett, Kevin Kisner, Erik van Rooyen, Christian Bezuidenhout, Bubba Watson, Matt Wallace, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Brandt Snedeker, Jason Day, Steve Stricker, Padraig Harrington, Vijay Singh

TV: Thursday, Friday — Golf Channel, 3-6 p.m; Saturday-Sunday — CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Tickets: None; the event will be held without fans because of COVID-19.

Merchandise: RocketMortgageClassic.com


Twitter: @tonypaul1984