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‘Dawgs On Tour: Driving in Rock City

There were honestly a lot of ways to go with this title. Automotive references as a play on words for teeing a golf ball came to mind. Urban decay. Even Jim Harbaugh. Ultimately I went with (though I don’t like them as musicians,) KISS.

AT&T Byron Nelson - Round Three Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Tournament: Rocket Mortgage Classic, June 27-30, 2019

Course: Detroit Golf Club (North), 7,334 yards, par 72 (yes, it’s actually in Detroit, MI)

Purse: $7,300,000

Defending Champion: None. Technically, this is a new tournament. If you want to debate it, the parent company of current title sponsor Rocket Mortgage is Quicken Loans, who was the title sponsor of a tournament in Maryland until last year. Money got moved around, the tournament swapped spots on the calendar, and Bob’s your Uncle.

Fun Fact: I don’t care for Michigan. The university up there ruined the whole state for me. But this is the first time in 10 years that the PGA Tour has held competition in the state. The last was the Buick Open in 2008. If you remember your recent history, automotive sponsorships in 2008 and 2009 didn’t fare so well, resulting in Michigan losing it’s PGA Tour stop. Ha.

‘Dawgs in the Field: 8. Bubba Watson, Harris English, Kevin Kisner, Joey Garber, Keith Mitchell, Sepp Straka, Russell Henley, Brian Harman.

Television: Thursday-Friday, 3-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday-Sunday, 1-2:45 p.m. (GC), 3-6 p.m. (CBS).

I admit I don’t know much about Detroit Country Club. All I know it’s now a “regular” Tour stop 2 weeks after the US Open and 3 weeks before the British Open. Which means the field is a mixed bag - some pros are taking off a week or two before an Open warm-up, some are playing this week before heading over to Ireland early for some acclimation.

The US Open champion Gary Woodland returns to play this week. World #3 Dustin Johnson will also tee it up. Rickie Fowler, who gets a lot of money from Quicken and Rocket Mortgage, will of course be on hand for corporate outings, pro-am golf, and appropriate levels of brown-nosing.

Getting back to the Athenians, we’re past the half-way point in the golf calendar. 3 majors have been contested, with only the aforementioned British Open yet to commence. There will be few chances to make big moves in preparation for the season-ending FedEx Cup playoffs short of a win or top 3. So here’s where our boys stand in the playoff race coming into this week:

Joey Garber. #183 FEC (FedExCup). He’s a Tour rookie, but is still well outside the magical 125 spot. He did well in the US Open and might be rounding into form after early jitters.

Sepp Straka: #157 FEC. Not positioned too badly, but remember than the next 75 spots ahead of Straka are packed tightly, and all those golfers will move up and down each week depending on finishes. It won’t be easy.

Brian Harman: #109 FEC. Safe for now, but you really want to be in the top 70 going into the playoffs.

Russell Henley: #161 FEC. See Straka, Sepp. Henley is a 4 time Tour winner, so he’s got the game. Unfortunately his form has been off the last several months.

Harris English: #134 FEC. This is tight. The good news is that making cuts and a top 25 or so should seal the deal. The bad news is that all the guys immediately behind can bump English out.

Keith Mitchell: #30. Probably safe for the first two rounds, thanks to his win back in March. His performance in the playoffs will determine if he makes the top 30 and thus the final Tour Championship at East Lake.

Kevin Kisner: #17 FEC. Also in good shape thanks to his WGC win in February. Not to mention making 16 of 19 cuts. Mr. Consistency.

Bubba Watson: #71 FEC. I wouldn’t call him consistent, but he’s mostly making cuts. At this spot, he’s pretty much guaranteed the first round of the playoffs, but will need to play well to advance.

Only Bubba, Kiz, and Mitchell are eligible for the British Open at the moment. It will likely take a win or a top 2 to gain eligibility in the next couple of weeks.

Hope you enjoy this trip to Michigan, and I sincerely hope one of these former ‘Dawgs takes their money and trophy and brings it back home wrapped snugly in a fresh pair of Dockers. And as always...