'I belong': Fresh off marathon playoff, Kramer Hickok joins big guns in featured pairings at RMC

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Detroit — Kramer Hickok was admittedly exhausted Sunday night.

Here's betting he's about to find his second wind.

Fresh off his best finish on the PGA Tour — he lost to Harris English in a marathon, eight-hole playoff at the Travelers Championship in Connecticut — he finds himself this week in one of the feature pairings for the opening two rounds of the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club.

Kramer Hickok will play in one of the featured groups in the opening two rounds of this week's Rocket Mortgage Classic.

Hickok will play with defending champion Bryson DeChambeau and fellow bomber Cameron Champ in the first (1:10 p.m. Thursday, No. 1) and second (7:55 a.m. Friday, No. 10) rounds.

"I learned that I belong," Hickok, 29, said Sunday night, after taking home a consolation prize of $806,600 and a lot of new fans — his pop-culturish first name made him the fan favorite in the second-longest playoff in PGA Tour history (behind the 11-holer at the 1949 Motor City Open at Meadowbrook in Northville). "You can always tell yourself that, but until you're — I could've easily won. … Keep my head up, keep my chin up and take what I learned today and keep battling and go next week and see what happens."

The biggest of the four feature groups features two of this year's major champions, Phil Mickelson (PGA) and Hideki Matsuyama (Masters), along with fan favorite Rickie Fowler. They go off at 7:55 a.m. Thursday off No. 10, and 1:10 p.m. Friday off No. 1.

Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson, who has taken a liking to Detroit with significant charitable donations the last two years, will play with last year's runner-up, Matthew Wolff, and Max Homa, a winner this year at Riviera and a fan favorite for his social-media swing critiques. They tee off right before Mickelson and company, at 7:45 a.m. Thursday off No. 10 and 1 p.m. Friday off No. 1.

The fourth featured group includes major champions Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson, and Jason Kokrak. They're off at 1 p.m. Thursday on No. 1, and 7:45 a.m. Friday on No. 10.

Watson, who hasn't won since 2018, was leading late Sunday at the Travelers, before a disastrous back nine put him out of contention. He joins another struggling fellow major champion Jason Day in this week's field. Day, too, had a good showing at Travelers, as he looks for his first win since 2018. Day, despite battling his chronic back injury, tied for 10th, while Watson tied for 19th. Neither has made the cut at the Rocket Mortgage, Watson 0-for-2 and Day 0-for-1.

"I'm glad that I was there, had the opportunity," Watson said Sunday. "You know, I would love to do it again next week, throw up on myself again. It would it be great. I want to the opportunity and the chance to win."

You can check out the complete first- and second-round tee times here:

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Twitter: @tonypaul1984