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2020 Rocket Mortgage Classic, despite no ticket sales, raises $2.7M for charity

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Detroit — The second annual Rocket Mortgage Classic raised a whole lot of green, despite no ticket sales.

Detroit's PGA Tour stop announced Tuesday the 2020 tournament, held in early July, raised more than $2.7 million for local charities, with $2.4 million allocated toward the tournament's ambitious mission of ending Detroit's digital divide by 2025.

The 2021 Rocket Mortgage Classic will take place July 1-4 at Detroit Golf Club.

Because of COVID-19, the PGA Tour played the second half of its season schedule, including in Detroit, without fans. But in Detroit, corporate sponsors and residents stepped up to more than fill the dollar void.

"This year's Rocket Mortgage Classic is a testament to the boldness and ingenuity of the entire team, who understood the unique opportunity we had to use this event to bridge the digital divide in Detroit," Jay Farner, CEO of Rocket Companies and chairman of the Rocket Giving Fund, said in a statement. "We are committed to Changing the Course and working tirelessly to deploy resources and foster great equity and digital access for Detroit residents and families."

In 2019, the Rocket Mortgage Classic, which drew tens of thousands of fans to the inaugural tournament at Detroit Golf Club, raised more than $1.1 million for Detroit-based charities.

In 2020, the exact figure raised was $2,716,770.

Here's how that will be broken down:

►$2.1 million for the Connect 313 Fund, which, in partnership with the City of Detroit and the United Way for Southeastern Michigan, will help fund local nonprofits to increase access to technology and the Internet.

►$344,450 to the Children's Foundation, including First Tee Greater Detroit, Midnight Golf and the Detroit Police Athletic League.

►$150,000 to the Greater Palmer Park Community, seven neighborhoods surrounding Detroit Golf Club.

►$122,320 to 74 other nonprofit charities, generated through the tournaments Birdies for Charity program.

"Like all other PGA Tour tournaments, our overriding mission is for the Rocket Mortgage Classic to serve as a vehicle to support the nonprofits that do such amazing work in our community, and it has been amazing to see so many people come together this year in particular to get behind such a great cause," said Jason Langwell, Rocket Mortgage Classic executive director.

"We will continue to work every day toward Changing the Course and addressing this great need."

According to estimates, more than 30% of Detroit's residents don't have adequate access to the Internet and Internet-capable technology. When COVID-19 struck the area in mid-March, tournament officials decided to alter its giving program to focus on an area of need highlighted by the pandemic.

The money was raised through corporate sponsors that stuck with the tournament — and other companies who signed on to help fill the void — as well as significant, seven-figure giving during a charity exhibition featuring Bubba Watson, Jason Day, Harold Varner III and Wesley Bryan the day before the 2020 tournament started. Rocket Mortgage donated $250,000, Rickie Fowler $100,000 and Watson $25,000. Also, many fans deferred their ticket purchases until 2021, or donated the money outright. 

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984