Here’s what you missed from Round 2 at the Rocket Mortgage Classic
Two rounds are in the books at the inaugural Rocket Mortgage Classic. Detroit Country Club looks sweet in HD and the crowds are warming up. Don’t look now, but it’s shaping up to be a fun weekend in Southeast Michigan. Here’s what you need to know through 36 holes.
Champ in waiting?
Heading into 2019, Cameron Champ was on a straight-line path to become golf’s next Big Thing. Blessed with the ability to drive it farther than anyone on Tour — past Rory, Brooks and yes, even DJ — Champ won the Sanderson Farms Championship in October and basically lived on the leaderboard for about six weeks. Here are his results from the season-opening Safeway Open through the Tournament of Champions: T25, Win, T28, T10, 6, T12, T11. No one had a better fall season.
Then a funny thing happened: Champ lost it. Whether it was adjusting to Tour life, the exposure of a few holes in his game (he ranks 200th in strokes gained around the green) or the cruel reality of regression, Champ hasn’t cracked a top 50 since the TOC at Kapalua, even as he continues to lead the world in driving distance.
That string appears ready to end, as Champ rang up six birdies and eagle during a front-nine 28 (!) on Friday and eventually signed for a seven-under 65. He’s one shot back.
Lurking: Rickie Fowler
Fowler shot a second straight 68 and sits six shots back. We’ve already seen several players go on birdie runs, none more impressive than Champ, and Fowler has plenty of firepower to be a big part of the weekend story. He had some nice moments on Friday.
Not Lurking: Dustin Johnson
In one of the biggest surprises of the week, World No. 2 Dustin Johnson went trunk-slamming Friday afternoon after shooting a second straight 71 to miss the cut by two shots. Also heading home early: Newly minted U.S. Open champ Gary Woodland (-2), last week’s winner Chez Reavie (-1) and Bubba Watson, who chased a Thursday 68 with a choppy 75.
Leading: Nate Lashley
The 36-year-old from Nebraska has just one top 10 all season (T8 at the Puerto Rico Open) but suddenly and without warning, he made 14 birdies through 36 holes to lead Champ by one. His best 36-hole score this year heading into the week was eight under in Puerto Rico, but after opening 63-67 in Detroit, he’s 14 under. He’ll go toe-to-toe with Champ in the final group Saturday afternoon.