Rocket Mortgage Preview, Picks & Analysis
MANY of the world’s best players have chosen to take the week off at the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club but, for many, the focus will be on the ongoing battle against Covid-19. A series of positive tests have reminded everybody that we are still in the midst of a pandemic that has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people around the people, and the PGA Tour is now painfully aware of how close to home it all is. Webb Simpson, the winner at Harbour Town, was among a group of players who withdrew from the Travelers Championship when he discovered that a member of his family had the virus, but he will be back in action this week.
It is difficult to know for sure exactly who will be teeing it up this week, and with all of this going on it is not easy to concentrate on tournament golf, especially when you consider that, once again, they will be playing without fans. The big focus in Detroit will be on charity and on giving.
During the tournament, players will be wearing a special pin to show their support for the event’s “Changing the Course” initiative – a multi-year campaign that aims to ensure every Detroit resident has access to the internet, technology and digital literacy training within five years.
The pandemic has highlighted a number of issues in Detroit – internet accessibility being one of the most severe. The vision of “Changing the Course” is a Detroit where every resident has access to the technology, internet and digital literacy that is the baseline for education and opportunity in today’s economy. And the Rocket Giving Fund will invest funds in organisations and infrastructure that seek to ensure 5G internet technology becomes widely available across Detroit.
“As we witnessed the heartbreaking toll that Covid-19 has had on our city, we knew we had to use the Rocket Mortgage Classic as a driver of lasting change,” said Jay Farner, chief executive of Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans. “In talking to leaders and partners throughout the city, the issue of internet accessibility always came back to the top. Kids are falling behind because they can’t get to school, parents cannot search for jobs, and families were unable to get needed telemedicine. Detroiters deserve better.
“Addressing this systemic, generational issue that Detroiters have been facing since the inception of the internet, is the kind of greater mission we targeted the moment we learned that the 2020 Rocket Mortgage Classic was moving forward. We thank our community partners and key leaders who have assisted us in honing our strategy to make a tangible impact for the better.
This digital divide has never been more prominent than during the Covid-19 crisis, with internet usage at an all-time high around the world. But Detroit has experienced challenges with digital access for decades. It is the least connected city in America, with nearly 30% of its homes without broadband of any type.
The Rocket Mortgage Classic aims to help solve the digital divide. This includes being a vehicle for awareness, fundraising opportunities and creative problem-solving to address the needs of households who do not have access to broadband internet. In the coming weeks, details and a roadmap to accomplish this multi-year plan will be released to the public. These are lofty goals.
“When we announced the tournament’s new date, we said that we were flipping this event on its head,” said Jason Langwell, Executive Director of the Rocket Mortgage Classic. “Once out of the gate, our mindset for the 2020 event has been centred on how we can set the standard for how a PGA Tour event can galvanise an entire community to assist at-need populations.”
In 2019, the tournament raised more than $1.2m in support of non-profit organisations, with $1.1m being directly invested in Detroit. It also won three “Best Of” awards in its inaugural year from the PGA Tour, including the “Fair Way Award” for its diversity and inclusion initiatives, making it the most-awarded event on the Tour.
Rocket Mortgage have been active in supporting the Detroit community since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, they have directed more than $6m through procurement initiatives, partnerships, philanthropic investments and logistical support. Additionally, Rock Connections supports Detroit’s COVID-19 testing facility by offering the services of its call centre, and created the appointment software that serves up to 1,000 people per day.
This year’s tournament sees something called the Area 313 Challenge in which players will compete to make an eagle, ace, birdie (3-1-3) on holes 14, 15 and 16 on each of the four days of tournament play. The first golfer to achieve this unlikely feat will win $313,000 in their name to support the “Changing the Course” initiative.
So what of the golf? Patrick Reed has shown some excellent form since the sport returned and could well be the man to beat this week. It is a course that is made for bombers so that means it is made for Bryson DeChambeau, who has been there or thereabouts in all three tournaments since the restart. Look out, too, for another big week from England’s Tyrrell Hatton, a golfer who is full of self-belief after his victory earlier this year at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
This is only the second playing of the tournament, which was won last year by Nate Lashley.
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Patrick Reed. Showing some excellent form
Bryson DeChambeau. Has done everything but win since the restart
Kevin Na. Now a truly consistent player
Patrick Reed. Ready to win again
Bryson DeChambeau. Don’t make him angry. You wouldn’t like him when he is angry!
Kevin Na. Full of confidence
Vicktor Hovland. A superstar in the making
Tyrrell Hatton. Now a truly world-class golfer
Rickie Fowler. Still struggling with his swing changes but too good for that to last much longer
Hideki Matsuyama. Looking to rediscover his very best form
Sungjae Im. The man is a machine
Jason Day. Striking the ball beautifully - just needs to hole a few putts
Keegan Bradley. Gutsy character with a game to match
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