Breaking down Round 2 of the Rocket Mortgage Classic: The highs, the lows, the Bubba-isms

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Detroit — Breaking down Friday's second round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club:

Hole of the day

NO. 11, 214 YARDS, PAR 3

Tournament officials have the option to get this hole all the way back to 233 yards, but decided to shave some distance Friday given a very tough hole location, tucked just behind the bunker that borders the front right of the green. The hole played the second-toughest during the second round, with just nine birdies to 31 bogeys and one double. One of those birdies was a huge one for leader Chris Kirk, who found that bunker, threatening to spoil his near-perfect round — until he blasted it out and into the hole for another birdie.


Shots of the day

An ace always takes first place. The honor Friday goes to PGA Tour veteran Ryan Armour, who one-hopped it with an 8 iron at the 155-yard, par-3 fifth hole. It was the 14th hole-in-one for Armour, and it was the second hole-in-one in the short history of the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Ollie Schniederjans made the first, in 2019, also on the fifth hole. Honorable mention will go to Hank Lebioda, who jarred an 82-yard wedge for an eagle at the par-5 fourth, after holing from 146 yards for an eagle at the par-4 sixth in the first round. Amazingly, it wasn't enough for Lebioda to make the cut.

Mark Hubbard walks off the 14th green during the second round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

Quotes of the day

"You've gotta play smart here." — Ted Scott, Bubba Watson's caddie, on the approach to the par-4 10th.

"That'll be a first." — Watson, before hitting his 137-yard shot from the rough to 11 feet. He two-putted for par.

Stat of the day

— Course since the PGA Tour restart that plays to a traditional par 72: Detroit Golf Club. In Texas and Connecticut, they played to a par 70, and in South Carolina they played to a par 71.

Stat of the day II

3 — Players who withdrew after the start of the tournament, the biggest name being Kevin Na, who pulled out with a back injury after nine holes Friday. He wasn't likely to make the cut, at 1 over. Talor Gooch and Wyndham Clark WD'd after the opening round.

Stat of the day III

491 — Days since Vijay Singh's last made cut on the PGA Tour, spanning 10 tournaments. But the 57-year-old made a run at it this week, finishing 4 under, one off the cut line. At 57, he'll be back in Michigan for the Champions Tour's Ally Challenge later this month, at Warwick Hills in Grand Blanc, where Singh won three Buick Opens.

Local watch

Brian Stuard (Jackson/Oakland): A string of four consecutive birdies on his opening nine holes led him to a 5-under 67 and another shot at his second PGA Tour title. At 9 under halfway through, he'll be squarely in the mix on the weekend.

Ryan Brehm (Traverse City/Michigan State): He made three pars on the par 5s during Friday's round, which will cost him a chance to play the weekend in his first PGA Tour tournament since the restart four weeks ago. He shot a second consecutive 71.

Donnie Trosper (Canton/Michigan State): Monday was his big day, surviving the qualifier, but otherwise this wasn't his week. A triple-bogey and two doubles derailed his opening 78, with a three-putt bogey on No. 9 and then a back-nine 41 leading to a 77 in his second round.


COVID-19 watch

Webb Simpson: He's going for two wins in a row, after claiming the trophy at Hilton Head two weeks ago. He WD'd last week as a precaution after a potential family exposure to COVID-19, but tested negative and scrambled to play Detroit, where he's tied for the lead after a second-round 64 that could've been even better, had he not made par on both par 5s on the back nine.

Cameron Champ: The last man in the field after receiving word Wednesday night that he was cleared to play after three straight negative COVID-19 tests, he got into the fringes of contention with a second-round 68 to enter the weekend at 7 under. He shot a back-nine 32 on Friday for his second made cut in as many Rocket Mortgage Classic appearances.

Area 313 watch

Again this year, Rocket Mortgage officials have pledged to donate $313,000 to charity, if any of the 157 golfers pulls off the feat of all feats — going 3-1-3 in Area 313, holes No. 14-16. That means an eagle on the par-5 14th, an ace on the par-3 15th and a birdie on the par-4 16th. Golfers can use all four rounds to get it done. Bryson DeChambeau and Jamie Lovemark are the only golfers who are two-thirds of the way there, making the eagle on the 14th (Lovermark's approach was from 268, DeChambeau's from 185 yards) and then making birdie on the 16th in Thursday's opening round.

Souvenir of the day

The "Drive Detroit" T-shirt is pretty sweet, designed by students from the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy in Detroit. The shirts feature a silhouette of a golfer, in front of the Detroit skyline, and golf fans are gobbling them up. The moment the RMC shop went live this summer, the shirts quickly sold out, forcing a quick reorder. They're $33.99 plus tax and shipping, with proceeds going to the tournament's mission: To end Detroit's digital divide by 2025.

Twitter: @tonypaul1984